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Aircraft owners set to fly through faster registration process

IN BRIEF: Ohio's aircraft registration process is speeding up in a big way. The manual paper-and-postage process required of aircraft owners each year is being replaced by time-saving online registration. Scheduled to roll out in early 2012, the improvements were developed by a Kaizen team that included the president of the Ohio Aviation Association.

HIGH-SPEED PROCESSING: Registration processing will take 80% to 96% less time when all the improvements are in place -- speeding along at 11 days in some cases. That's because the process has been so streamlined -- with 60% fewer steps, 25% fewer handoffs, and a delay-free approach that avoids batching and keeps registrations moving.

NEUTRALIZING THE BACKLOG: A backlog that grew to 12,000 in-process registrations will be eliminated in three months.

EASE OF USE: Paper forms, envelopes, and postage will no longer be necessary. By March 2012, aircraft owners will be able to register and submit their fee online.

DOLLARS AND SENSE: With paperless processing, the Office of Aviation expects $33,000 in first-year savings due to big reductions in paper usage, envelopes, printing, and mailing expense. And a more efficient process will bring in an additional $60,000 in fee revenue compared to last year.

Ohio's aircraft owners will enjoy smoother skies ahead with the registration of their aircraft, thanks to a simpler and speedier process that will benefit everyone. Once all the changes are in place, the new process will take 11 to 75 days -- a huge improvement over the old turnaround time of 275 to 375 days.

What's more, the improvements will enable staff to erase a big backlog. At one point, some 12,000 registrations were waiting to be processed. The team projects a reduction to zero within three months once its first round of process changes are in place, with a zero backlog being maintained going forward.

Registration is required for all new aircraft, and annual renewal is required as well. There were 6,105 registrations in 2010, up 18% from the previous year. The backlog got serious when this increase in registrations ran into a process that was built for lower volume. With 2011 registrations likely to exceed the 2010 number, the improvements are timely to say the least.

In Ohio, aircraft registration is done each year, with revenue going to the County Airport Maintenance Assistance Fund. The registration program was established to provide a funding source for navigation facilities and airport capital improvements. Quicker processing of registrations means quicker collection of registrations fees -- which means that needed dollars get put to work more efficiently.

The old process met its match during an intense week of analysis and planning. Teaming up were staff from the Office of Aviation, which runs the program within the Ohio Department of Transportation; an Ohio pilot and president of the Ohio Aviation Association; the ODOT Divisions of Operations and Finance; and the ODOT Offices of Quality Assurance and Training.

Team members included Alan Harding. He's an Ohio pilot, so he's a customer of the aircraft registration process. He's also a major stakeholder in his role as President of the Ohio Aviation Association. At the team's end-of-week presentation, Mr. Harding praised the Kaizen approach. "I recommend it be used throughout the state," he said.

In other words, this one-week project brought all key players to the table. They accomplished so much so quickly by using the tools and techniques of Kaizen – an approach that has brought greater efficiency, savings, and customer satisfaction to private-sector organizations. Guiding the group were Kaizen facilitators from the LeanOhio Office.

Early in the week, team members developed a detailed map of the current process, and they were shocked to see that it involved a tangle of 129 steps and 24 time-consuming handoffs. But the group was determined rather than deterred. They went on to identify 70 improvement ideas, then they dug deeper and reached consensus on a final set of high-impact changes.

The new process has 60% fewer steps and 25% fewer handoffs. It keeps registrations flowing smoothly through the system, replacing the delay-filled batching approach that led to backlogs. Registration processing time will take 80% to 96% less time once the full package of changes has been implemented.

The biggest change is an upgrade to paperless registration. Mailed-in submissions with fee paid by check will be replaced by online registration and payment. Registrations will be sent online as well. The team calculates annual savings of $33,000 in paper, envelopes, printing, and postage that will no longer be needed. And because a more efficient process allows for more registrations in less time, an added $60,000 in fee revenue is expected in the first year of the new system.

Because IT improvements take longer to implement, the team has designed a phased-in approach with its changes. March 2012 is the target month for having online registration in place and fully operational, but before then, there are IT and HR "bridge plans” with immediate changes.

Team member Stephanie Eich admits that when the Kaizen event began, "it was very difficult for me, it was very personal." She has long been the main person working the process. "There were times (during the start of the week) that I thought people weren’t listening to me, but I stand corrected. They were."

Ms. Eich told how the need for improvement became clear as the team mapped the workflow -- and needed twice as much writing space because the process had so many steps. The new process is simplicity at its best. "The amount of paper and filing that this will eliminate is tremendous," she said. "The office will perform the same functions but in a much shorter time."

Another team member, aircraft owner Alan Harding, said he's "amazed" by the power of Kaizen to bring huge improvement to a key process in so short a time. Mr. Harding is president of the Ohio Aviation Association, so he's the perfect voice for customers of the registration process. "This was very interesting," he said during the group's end-of-week presentation. "I've never participated in something like this, and I'm really impressed. I recommend it be used throughout the state."

 UPDATE  The new process with online registration and payment has been fully implemented. The online system gives aircraft owners their registration certificate or status report within 7 business days on average -- which is 97% faster than the 275 days it used to take. Click here to see the opening registration page.

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This report was published Sept. 15, 2011. Projected and actual results may have changed since then. For the latest info, contact LeanOhio or ODOT.

    ODOT contact:
    Kevin L. Rogge
    (614) 387-2347

Ohio Department of Transportation
Aircraft Registration Process
August 2011

Team members
Team members: (left to right) Daveen Goodman, ODOT Office of Quality Assurance; James Gregory, Information Technology; Michael Buerger, Office of Training; Alan Harding, an Ohio-based pilot and President of the Ohio Aviation Association; James Bryant, Office of Aviation; Robin Chambers-Dersoon, Office of Aviation; Karen McDaniel, Division of Finance; Stephanie Eich, Office of Aviation; Sue Grundey, Office of Quality Assurance; Dushon Johnson, Division of Operations; Sue Kirby, Kaizen Facilitator, LeanOhio; Kevin Rogge, Office of Aviation; Rich Martinski, Kaizen Facilitator, LeanOhio.