City projects were reaching the City Council for approval weeks after initiation because of delays caused by bureaucratic red tape. The delays resulted in a variety of predictable and unfortunate occurrences including law suits against the city, unused budgeted capital, disgruntled employees, and irate citizens. All of the constituents of the city were frustrated but none knew what to do about the problems. MainStream was engaged to understand what the City’s objectives were relative to the approval process, analyze the current procedures, determine the root cause problems and make recommendations for improvements.
MainStream assessed all current methods used to submit projects to the City Council and found numerous problems. These problems included ‘turf protection’, unnecessary approvals, miscommunication, lack of prioritization and ownership, excessive hand-offs, and multiple tracking systems. Working with the involved functional departments, MainStream formed a steering committee to identify how to improve cooperation and to serve as an implementation team putting into action the solutions MainStream identified. The goal was to develop a focused business improvement process made up of the people that had to live with the process every day; who would be motivated to make changes; and who would have a direct interest in sustaining the results.
The results were staggering. Within two months, 95% of all projects were available for approval by the City Council within five working days. That compared to a norm that had been four to five weeks prior to MainStream’s engagement. The City found that they were more responsive in their ability to carry on the daily operations of the City but could also meet requests from local Citizens. A side benefit realized through the implementation team was the improved communications amongst functional departments which led to personnel who were more productive and happier with their jobs.