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Streamlined purchasing will allow more time for mission-critical work at AG's Office

IN BRIEF: Thanks to a much simpler and faster purchasing process, staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office won't have to wade through forms and procedures to get essential supplies and services -- and can direct that saved time to their mission-critical work of enforcement, investigation, training, consumer protection, support, and advocacy.

STANDARDIZATION: 12 different purchasing processes have been reduced to 2.

SPEED: The overall processing time will be 58-65% faster, depending on what's being purchased.

SIMPLIFICATION: The new approach has up to 53% fewer steps, 56% fewer decision points, and 33% fewer handoffs.





The Kaizen team developed a much leaner process that eliminates time-wasting handoffs, redundant signoffs, and unnecessary decision points. The new work flow is up to 65% faster.


They work behind the scenes, and what they do will never become a TV show like CSI or Law & Order. Yet purchasing is a vital function at the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

The people in purchasing order everything from lab coats (for the crime labs) to legal pads (for staff attorneys) to undercover vehicles (for investigators) to binders (for training) and much more. The AG's Office fills many roles. The purchasing function ensures that staff are stocked with what they need to get the job done, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Intent on making a good process better, a team from purchasing, finance, and other areas of the AG's Office convened for a Kaizen event. Team members worked for five days straight, and their analysis and newly designed work flow went far beyond incremental change. They developed major improvements that will cut the request-order-delivery-payment time by more than half.

For example, the team took on the inefficiency of having 12 separate purchasing processes. This was resulting from different sections developing their own approaches over time, especially for purchases of mainstay goods like envelopes and paper. Team members simplified and standardized, eliminating redundant approvals and other valueless steps. They went on to create one main process plus a separate flow for print orders, which are processed through DAS.

The team consolidated three purchasing-related forms into one. The new form will be more comprehensive, with people who make purchase requests providing all the needed information at the start of the process. This will reduce questions, loopbacks, and delays as the request moves on to purchase, delivery, and payment.


UNTANGLING THE PROCESS
Those thin blue lines are yarn, put there by team members who wanted to see the purchasing process in all its frustrating fullness. Various strands extend from points on the main current-state process map to the start of various subprocesses on the facing wall. Yes, the work flows were that complicated. The new approach is simpler, faster...and completely yarn free!



Also, there are now plans to expand use of a payment card to additional sections. This purchasing approach is used widely among state agencies. The P-Card, as it's called, has proven its worth as a secure and efficient way to expedite purchases.

Another big improvement will unfold early in 2012. Following the scheduled installation of an upcoming upgrade to SharePoint, people will be able to do easy online tracking of their purchase requests, approvals, order status and more.

All these improvements are being rolled out with informational materials, meetings, and training sessions. These fully address the new work flow, the new form, P-Card usage, and other aspects of the change

At the team presentation on Friday of the Kaizen week, Kim Murnieks saluted team members for developing so many positive changes. As Chief Operating Officer of the Attorney General's Office, Murnieks knows every aspect of the back-office operation. Purchasing is a key function that “really does impact us all,” she said.

 
This report was published on July 12, 2011. Projected and actual results may have changed since then. Contact LeanOhio or the team leader for the latest information.
 
Ohio Attorney General
Purchasing Office
June 2011

Team members
Left to right  Team sponsor: John Levitt, Director of AG General Services. Team members: Joselynn Burnett, Assistant Deputy Finance Director; Doug Armbrust, Facilities Manager; Kathy McNeal, Procurement Manager and Kaizen Team Leader; Denise Peterman, Facilities Services Superintendent; Daveen Goodman, Quality Assurance Review Coordinator, ODOT; Carol Schubert, Statewide Management Quality Coordinator, ODOT; Rebecca Brackney, Purchasing Coordinator; Jennifer Biedenharn, BCI Business Manager; Scott Weimer, OPOTA Business Manager; Lewis Maddox, Crime Lab Director, BCI Richfield.
 


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