Applying LSS to Day to Day Processes in a Financial World

Randy Boyd, Manager Process Excellence, University Federal Credit Union, Austin, TX, USA

Co-Speaker: Mike Irwin

Keywords: Lean Six Sigma Finance, Lean in Daily Processes, Lean Six Sigma in Financial

Industry: Financial Services

Level: Intermediate


The maturity of an organizations LSS deployment is seen in how deeply the LSS concepts are instilled throughout all levels of the organization. All too often organizations are only able to see LSS's impact only through project outcomes.

University Federal Credit Union is a Credit Union located in Austin Texas with a workforce of about 620 at the time of this writing. They began their LSS Journey 4 years ago in typical fashion training key executives, identifying core projects, training a group of individuals to lead these projects, and then deploy overall awareness training throughout the organization to start bringing the organization into alignment around Lean and Process Thinking. The projects were successful. They have experienced typical challenges such as delayed improvements due to IT support/backlog, breaking the “We’ve always done it this way” mentality, and overall buy in at all levels of the organization.

After 3 years of deployment, projects are still going well, but overall deployment and benefit of the application benefits had been held only at the project level. Challenges of taking people off of their regular work for large periods of time (ex. a week long training) was difficult and challenging. While benefits were realized with quick hit opportunities within a project, the major benefits were delayed unit the implementations of project ideas could be implemented.

After looking at many of the project improvements that were in place and separating the process level steps from the IT related types of improvements, they noticed that at the process level with the right insight and training many of the improvements that were identified could have been identified from the process owners within their day to day activities. All it required was to help them become more process oriented in their thinking. The belief was that the real benefit was not in the project outcomes but in the many quick wins we could realize by driving Lean concepts to our daily lives.

As a result, UFCU Process Excellence department began implementing a new strategy to add to their current deployment.

While their current training was focused implementing LSS through projects and some minor awareness courses, they broke out all Lean concepts into its most basic and foundational concepts. Stripping training that involved project work, such as project charters, project management units, etc. they developed a 12 session training plan with each session requiring 2 hours of workshop time. The courses were opened to anyone interested in learning how to apply these principles to their daily work and processes. It was titles Lean for Process: Quality in Daily Work.

The course took on such interest in its development that the Learning and Development department that was supporting the Process Excellence group in pulling material together, asked to be the pilot.

The course was designed to accomplish several things.

  • Be offered to anyone in the organization
  • To provide a set of units that would become our Foundations of Lean awareness material
  • Provide onboarding training beneficial to all incoming and current Managers and Sr. Managers around process thinking and management.
  • Provide the core Lean concepts to be applied at the day to day process level.
  • To be taught in shorter manageable units.
  • Be on the job training focused (applying concepts to their personal processes)

The training was designed where participants were required to bring with them a process they personally owned and could control. They would take each 2 hours workshop with the intent of applying the Lean concepts they were taught to that process before the next training. By the end of the training they would have applied all taught lean concepts to their personal processes and realized improvements. They essentially would end up with Lean training minus the project focus.

What have been some of the results:

  •  Over $80k a year in reduction of mailing costs
  • Over $180k per year reduction in elimination of auto loan title fees
  • Taking a portion of General Ledger process requiring over 180 hours of processing and research to less than 1 hour.
  • Eliminating 5 hours of non-value added time each day from an auto Title Servicing position
  • Reducing a debit origination approach taking over 18 hours per complete end to end to less than 4 minutes per DBO
  • For Auto Loans
  • Elimination of title packet
  • Elimination of 45 day backlog that had been a 10 year problem
  • Reducing a process that took 45 days to less than 5 days

The biggest improvements have come in helping process owners to ask “why”? Why do we do the things we do, then having the tools and concepts to do something about it.

This workshop’s focus is to tell the UFCU story, give framework into how it works, and offer guidance to other organizations interested in taking process thinking from a project level to a process level including:

Concepts outside of the course outline include:

  • Member and Customer Flow
  • Provider Process Flow
  • Product Process Flow
  • Supplier Process Flow
  • Equipment & Resource Flow
  • Information Flow
  • Process Flow
  • Work Area Flow (includes turnover)