UCR Printing & Reprographics is Living the Promise with Organizational Excellence & Lean Thinking

By Nadeesha Hapuarachchi, Audit & Advisory Services Intern, UCR

UCR Printing & Reprographics and UCR Audit & Advisory Services (A&AS) student interns recently participated in an Organizational Excellence project to ‘Lean’ the inventory and year end count process at UCR Printing & Reprographics (P&R).  With great enthusiasm and willingness from P&R management and staff, the department was able to overhaul its decades old inventory counting process.


The highlight of this Lean Inventory Project is that the P&R’s  new and improved inventory counting process now takes 9 hours of process time compared to 174 hours of process time. Another remarkable improvement is that the Lead Time was reduced to 22 days from 1 year 51 days. The main reason for the long lead time was rooted in manual systems (filling out approximately 560 count tags by hand, entering counts to an excel spreadsheet, and looking up valuation information for each item) requiring 17 touches to complete the process. Because of the lengthy process, the year-end inventory count missed the cutoff for the deferral journal entry and inventory was recorded the following year end.

The team was also able to identify the elements of waste in the current process: overproduction, waiting time, and obsolete inventory.

  1. a) Overproduction– This primarily occurred with pre-printed materials (i.e. envelopes). P&R recognized that its long-held practice of keeping stock of pre-printed inventory for a campus department is inefficient and risky (departments move, logos change, etc.). Also, the P&R team identified that pre-printed items for campus departments takes up shelf space in the warehouse, increases inventory holding cost, and takes on the risk of demand not materializing.
  2. b) Wait time– Significant time was lost in the old inventory process as staff uses manual processes and waits on the tasks to be finished in P&R’s manual process flow.
  3. c) Obsolescence– This occurred due to the reluctance to scrap or recycle obsolete items in inventory. P&R is now taking action to dispose of or recycle obsolete merchandise, clean up shelf space, and update inventory promptly.

The lean process efforts of P&R’s Organizational Excellence Team thus far has shown quantitative results such as reduced process time, reduced lead time, less employee hours spent on counting inventory, reduced levels of obsolete inventory, reduced days in inventory, up-to-date inventory counts, and qualitative results such as a boost in employee morale, better understanding of sustainability, and compliance with campus policies.  We project a significant reduction in Days in Inventory (to industry standards) as a result of the Lean Process. The new process gradually reduces the elements of waste and the risk imbedded in the old process.

The Organizational Excellence Team identified one of the root causes of these inefficiencies as not having a proper Inventory Management System (IMS) that is typical of an operation of this size and complexity.  In fact this review identified that many departments on campus face similar challenges and have their own disparate inventory management systems ranging from excel based systems, to vendor packages, to end-of-life legacy systems.  The current scattered approach to inventory management is both inefficient and risky.  As such, the P&R team has identified an opportunity to improve inventory processes campus-wide by identifying a possible campus-wide solution – an Inventory Management System like the one found in PeopleSoft Financials/Supply Chain Management, an Enterprise Resource Planning System, which we currently already run at UCR.

This Lean Thinking and Organizational Excellence exercise at P&R reconfirms the value and importance of Organizational Excellence and Lean Thinking efforts in organizations.  The advisory services offered by A&AS aim to contribute to positive and significant change at UCR.

Conferencing and Events OE Workgroup

In 2015, a small group of self-organized CFAOs across campus began an exploration and discussion regarding the need for a more streamlined event planning process on campus. Working with disparate and, at times, outdated information on policy, procedure and costs, the CFAO group identified three areas in need of improvement: 1) consolidating/streamlining policies and procedures for planning an event; 2) the costs involved with hosting an event; and 3) the need for training and coordination in order to provide event services.

The exploration findings were presented at the September 2016 CFAO meeting to Vice Chancellor of Planning & Budget, Maria Anguiano. Impressed by the self-guided exploration and the identified benefit of streamlining the event process, VC Anguiano commissioned the group as a new OE Workgroup on campus. The workgroup consists of six committees that have been in preliminary meetings to outline the work plan. The workgroup work will serve for three months and will be the foundation of future phases, which could include the implementation of a new event registration system as well as the development of an event concierge service on campus. Committee leads have held initial meetings to cull current procedures and policies in order to determine what areas need to be updated. The project teams will also identify policies to be added to the new Event Management Protocol website.