Joe and Mary walked down Commonwealth Avenue to the Boston University Office of Personnel after their first Quality Lunch, and neither had much to say. They had been enthusiastic when they asked Mike, Bill, and Ann, all professors in the Operations Management (OM) department, to meet with them to discuss starting a Quality Improvement Program in the Office of Personnel, but the discussion had taken an unexpected turn.
The meeting had started out well enough with a lot of general enthusiasm about quality management concepts all around the table, but during dessert, Bill turned to Ann and asked, “Did you show Joe and Mary the case you wrote?” Ann looked a little uncomfortable, but began her story about her recent visit to the Office of Personnel.
This is my first year here and I'd already been through the new faculty orientation, but I still needed to get a BU ID card to be able to use the library and to get a computer account. So I called your office and made an appointment for 3:00 o'clock one afternoon. When I got there I was rather rudely told that I could not have the ID made until 3:30 — and the receptionist informed me that no one would have told me that 3:00 o'clock would be possible. Finally a work-study student stepped up and admitted that he had scheduled the appointment. He hadn't told me about needing a letter from my department chairman, either, but they told me they would make the card for me anyway. I had to either wait or come back later, so I left and came back and then had to wait for another half-hour behind two other faculty members. Making the ID couldn't have taken two minutes! I was really frustrated and upset when I left — so I wrote a case about it to use in my Quality Management course.
Ann had been matter-of-fact in her description of the incident, but Mary was embarrassed.
“The first few weeks of a new semester are always really hectic and we're very short staffed. We don't have the resources to deal with the peaks in demand. We only have one receptionist and she's responsible for answering phones, greeting people, making IDs, scheduling . . .”
“Mary, that's not a quality answer. You know that there are busy times and they're pretty predictable. If you really want to serve your customers better, you'll be prepared.”
There was awkward silence around the table for a few seconds, then Mary said, “Ann, may I have a copy of your case?”
“Sure,” Ann replied. “The real point of the case is that no one is to blame, but the system needs to be fixed to serve customers better.”
Talk turned to more general quality topics and the rest of the lunch was uneventful. As Mary and Joe approached their offices, though, they agreed that it was time to pay some attention to the Personnel Reception Area. They knew, from Ann's story and from other complaints, that . . .
- What is the quality improvement theme for the Office of Personnel.
- Using the data provided in Exhibit 2, produce a run chart of calls received in the Personnel reception area for the data collection period.
- Draw a process flow diagram of the procedure for processing faculty ID cards.