Chief Building Official Mike White has his work cut out for him. Not only is he responsible for interpreting building and related codes, but his operational responsibilities also include plan reviews, permitting, and inspections. Efficiency is a top priority for White, so he and Deputy Building Official Susie Hernandez have undertaken a process improvement project to deliver value to their customers through tight processes and quality standards. Enlisting the help of Misty Eaves, who holds a Lean Six Sigma green belt certification, the team has undertaken a review of customer service, technology, permit processes, other workflow, and succession planning.
“The commitment Mike and Susie have made to managing their business as efficiently as possible is really appreciated,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We understand that customers need us to move as quickly as we can, but elements of the work are directly tied to safety. This is why we need great processes and leadership that values the impact of our work on the customer.”
Working with Eaves, the team Initially identified tasks that could be accomplished quickly. These tasks ranged from cross-departmental process enhancements to customer-facing system corrections. Workflows, informational dashboards, technology enhancements, and training were the first steps. The team has also identified other cities and studied their processes with an eye to finding new methods or ideas.
“Misty has a natural ability to streamline work and is fanatically committed to efficiency,” said Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson. “This is her superpower. She has a strong command of Lean Six Sigma techniques and can quickly help a team identify areas for improvement.”
As the team completes project initiatives, customers should see new self-service options, reduced wait times, and fewer inconveniences. For staff, stronger communication and access to modern technologies will ease workload challenges. In the end, the process should benefit all involved.
The City of Southlake has long used lean/six sigma techniques to improve processes and enhance customer service. Multiple employees have completed basic training, and several now hold green belt certifications.
“I’m always proud to see employees use these practices to make things better,” said Yelverton. “Technology advancements and innovative approaches are good things, if you can come up for air long enough to think things through. Our team thoughtfully manages their day-to-day but never loses sight of the need to continually improve.”
“This staff is impressive that way,” she said.