$25,000 donated to streamline operations at local non-profits

Dec 18, 2013

Five Snohomish County non-profits will be learning about spaghetti charts, value stream mapping, kaizen and 5S over the next several months in an effort to streamline or "Lean" the delivery of services.

Grants totaling $25,000, funded by The Boeing Co. and administered by United Way of Snohomish County, expands the number of non-profits using the technique first pioneered by Toyota in the ‘70s.

"Boeing has been a strong supporter of our Lean work over the past three years,” said said Dennis G. Smith, president of United Way of Snohomish County. “They have trained our staff, and have offered technical support and encouragement,".

Translating techniques that work well in the manufacturing world into a non-profit environment is challenging.

"Workforce Development Council of Snohomish County was and is a real leader in adapting these principles,” Smith added. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share best practices with other nonprofits.”

The bottom line is that Lean is good for the bottom line and good for the community.

"We have saved time, money and other resources while increasing our capacity," said Jeri Wilkes, CFO for United Way and one of the group's Lean coordinators. "Over that time we have expanded several initiatives and increased the number of programs we can support – in part due to Lean management techniques.”

Each of the five local organizations – Senior Services of Snohomish County, Center for Human Services, Work Opportunities, Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County and the Interfaith Association – will receive $5,000 as part of this grant.

The non-profits will also be assigned a volunteer from Boeing to help them with technical assistance and implementation.

• Senior Services of Snohomish County will use the money to train staff and plans to implement Lean management principles in their nutrition, fund development and transportation departments.

• Center for Human Services will use the money to streamline and improve their billing process and create a single billing team.

• Work Opportunities plans to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their intake and billing processes.

• As part of their move to a larger facility, Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County is looking to streamline communications, improve emergency preparedness protocols and improve the efficiency of meal preparation and delivery.

  • The fifth agency, Interfaith Association is planning to build capacity at their shelter with increased efficiencies in service delivery.

In addition to Boeing and Toyota, Lean is also practiced by numerous manufacturing companies, including Senior Aerospace in Arlington and several healthcare organizations such as The Everett Clinic.

Gov. Jay Inslee is also interested in adapting it for use in state government.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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