After the first successful merger with Unity Health Insurance and Gundersen Health Plan, Quartz recognized the need to review business processes throughout the new, combined organization. Quartz partnered with the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development (CPED) to design a continuous improvement program that has increased quality scores, reduced process times, and created a significant return on investment, saving the company millions of dollars.
After the first successful merger with Unity Health Insurance and Gundersen Health Plan, Quartz recognized the need to review business processes throughout the new, combined organization. This was a critical step to ensure the organization could continue to scale and still serve its members, providers, and community with the best service possible.
The team at Quartz had a significant amount of manual work occurring throughout the organization, which was exacerbated by the merger. Post-merger, Quartz quickly identified the need to evaluate processes that had been merged from the two legacy systems into one, cumbersome process. For the organization to grow, processes needed to become sustainable, scalable, and efficient. The team knew this wasn’t something they could handle on their own and began to look for an external partner.
Emily Murphy, program manager, process improvement, attended programming with the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development (CPED). She knew the organization would be an ideal partner to help design a sustainable continuous improvement process that reduced internal and external costs, improved service, and created greater employee and customer satisfaction.
The program was built on two critical components:
- Obtaining senior leadership understanding and sponsorship for resources needed to do project work
- Ensuring that project scoping is an iterative process that can benefit from the expertise and support of either an internal process improvement leader or the support of an external resource
Prior to developing the programming, CPED instructor and process improvement expert Scott Converse was brought in to provide an executive-level training to ensure leaders understood and found value in the methodology. Together, they began developing a Lean Ecosystem, which included educating staff on Lean Six Sigma methodology. This was done in several ways.
Murphy’s team built an internal program for employees who wanted to learn basic Lean Six Sigma concepts. A key goal for Quartz was for 75% of the organization to be trained in some level of Lean Six Sigma by 2022. Today, they’ve achieved 55%, and 88% of departments had team members participate in a Lean Six Sigma project or Kaizen Event.
Another unique aspect of the program is the partnership with Scott Converse, who co-designs Quartz-specific training sessions to showcase how the organization applies the methodology and framework to internal projects. This customization helps employees understand they have internal support and shares specific examples of how Quartz implements the methodology. Not only does this provide practicality, but it also increases engagement. They also developed a Lean Six Sigma communication campaign and developed control plans sponsored by the project’s executive stakeholder for all projects.
Quartz and CPED have been growing this program for three years, and Quartz has experienced excellent results. It has increased quality scores, reduced process times, and achieved a significant return on investment, saving the company millions of dollars. Quartz has also seen increased employee engagement. Employees are responsible for determining the solution for their challenges, so there’s a strong sense of ownership. It’s also provided development opportunities for employees from almost every area of the company.
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“This program has led employees to shift¬ careers! One of the employees on my team was formerly an executive assistant when she took the yellow belt program. Aft¬er seeing how the projects impacted the organization, she found a new calling. Having the ability to drive positive change throughout an organization is extremely rewarding.”
Program Manager, Process Improvement, Quartz