Lean Process Improvement Initiative

 “We must continually strive to push ourselves in new ways that challenge our thinking and past practices.”

~ OSU Strategic Plan 3.0


Lean Process Improvement Arrow

Leaning Forward at OSU

What's happening now? Review the list of current Lean Projects.


Leaning Forward is a long-term Oregon State University process improvement initiative that brings together stakeholders from across multiple units to collaboratively develop improved processes which result in positive resolutions for users, as well as greater efficiency and effectiveness for the University. The initiative is sponsored by Ron Adams, Interim Vice President for Administration; Mike Green, Vice President for Finance; and Linda Powell, Director of OSU Shared Services-Business Centers.



About LPI

Leaning Forward at OSU

Lean Process Improvement Initiative

Lean Cycle Image with Quote

Leaning Forward at OSU was started in 2014 to enhance collaboration in challenging assumptions and improving practices. OSU's Strategic Plan 3.0 calls for us to implement highly efficient administrative processes to enhance the student experience, improve faculty productivity and enable more resources to be directed toward academic success.

The Lean Process Improvement Initiative is a collaborative model that makes it possible to break down existing information silos. It provides unifying concepts, shared terminology, and an atmosphere of respectful communication, enabling project teams to review processes that cut across multiple university departments. Lean Teams are dedicated to addressing specific processes that have been identified as overly time-consuming or inadequately meeting the needs of the University, resulting in:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency while mitigating risk
  • Improve services valued by customers
  • Focus on increasing value of University processes
  • Implementation of processes which enhance the student experience
  • Redirect available resources toward academic success


We offer the OSU community Lean resources and tools that can be utilized by individuals or work-groups who want to streamline their own processes.


Background of the Lean Concept

The Leaning Forward program is based on five principles:1

  1. Define the value of the process from the perspective of the customer of the process.
  2. Identify the flow of the process, from both the customer and provider perspectives, to determine whether and how each step and activity in the process adds value.
  3. Eliminate the many types of waste that add no value to the process.
  4. Make the process flow smoothly, with activities or services "pulled" as needed by the customer rather than "pushed" by the provider.
  5. Pursue perfection through a combination of continuous improvement and radical transformation of the process.


1Balzer, William K. Lean Higher Education. New York: Productivity Press. 2010. Print.



Lean Projects

See what OSU Lean Teams are improving...

We have trained a group of employees to be Lean Facilitators; they are currently leading a variety of University-wide and departmental improvement projects.


Active Projects


Business Center HR Process Change

Improve coordination with stakeholders across campus when changes to Human Resources processes and policies are proposed and implemented.

Fiscal Policy Creation and Maintenance Framework

Develop an effective and efficient framework for fiscal policy creation, refinement and communication, while engaging with the University community to find a balance between compliance and customer needs.

Grant Processes and Services

Improve service to PIs and appropriately mitigate risk to the University and grant funds by streamlining grant administration processes, reducing redundancy, and ensuring timeliness of service and compliance.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Process

Improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of the Institutional Review Board processes and customer service.

Integrated Construction Planning Process Improvement Task Force

Integrate and align capital planning, financing, budgeting and contracting functions through identification of best practices for capital projects at OSU. Enhance communication across all units and the university community for project understanding and transparency.

Payroll Processing

Streamline the payroll process for hourly employees, from the end of pay periods through pay issuance, to make it more convenient for users, and ensure accurate payment.

Summer Appointments for 9/10-month Employees

Implement an efficient and timely process for hiring 9/10-month employees into summer appointments to provide increased clarity and guidance for supervisors and employees.

Monitored Projects  Goal

Employee Records Terminations

Develop effective processes to ensure timely employee record termination in Banner and EmpCenter, resulting in improved accuracy of the supervisor’s employee list in EmpCenter, reduced system costs and unnecessary risk, and ability to efficiently re-activate records in support of hiring managers. This project is in the monitoring and assessment phase.

Finance Systems Access

Develop an efficient process in which new employees (and employees changing jobs) are authorized to access the necessary finance systems required to perform the duties of their position, so users can be productive more quickly. The project is in the monitoring and assessment phase.

Initiating Recruitments

Ensure efficient processing and timely posting of standard, up-to-date position recruitments. The Rapid Recruit web tool is available online. Project is in the monitoring and assessment phase.

New Employee Onboarding

Enhance the onboarding experience for new faculty and staff by providing a coordinated, consistent, comprehensive and welcoming process for orienting new employees to OSU.  The New Employee Onboarding project is in the monitoring and assessment phase.



New Employee Onboarding

Building a Strong Foundation at OSU

What are the new tools and resources for hiring managers and new employees? People in meeting

  • The revised NEO program will promote personal connections between new employees and specific Business Center contacts, their supervisors, and others who can become a network of resources for new hires.
  • A streamlined, step-by-step Essential Notice and Welcome Letter will guide new employees through necessary preparations to begin work.
  • A consistent approach to onboarding will be enabled by newly developed checklists for each role in the process (Department/Supervisor, Business Center Human Resources, Business Center Finance and Accounting, the Office of Human Resources, and Environmental Health & Safety).
  • New sessions, including Safety, Ombuds, Mandatory Reporting and Anti-harassment, will be added to the monthly New Employee Orientation and Training for staff and faculty.
  • Updates to the Inside OSU website will ensure a consistent, clear, and thorough message to new employees.
  • A new relocation and moving webpage consolidates necessary information and forms for supervisors and new employees.
  • A "Welcome to OSU" video highlights the university’s mission and shares reasons employees choose to work at OSU.
  • A personal welcome letter from President Ray will include information about OSU’s Strategic Plan 3.0 and the Provost’s Council Ethos.
  • A complimentary week-long parking pass (valid in all lots) for new employees will ease the transition to campus.
  • A new evaluation survey will collect feedback from new hires and allow us to develop metrics to track our progress.

 What is the NEO Lean Project?

  • The New Employee Onboarding (NEO) program is one of our first Lean Process Improvement Projects. This project is important because the improved New Employee Onboarding program will ensure that new employees feel connected with the University more quickly. Ultimately, it will help us retain great and engaged people at OSU.
  • A key part of this and all Lean projects is building bonds between people. Strong relationships with our colleagues make all the difference when it comes to collaborating on projects that advance the goals and strategies of the university. For new employees, individual relationships with key contacts across the University will give them the support they need to be successful team members.

 Why did we need to improve the existing New Employee Onboarding process?

  • We wanted to address the lack of consistency and segmentation of new hire orientation approaches that varied across the University, and instead develop a comprehensive program that delivers onboarding with a University-wide perspective.
  • Historically, the onboarding process had been reactive. We determined that a proactive approach would be more beneficial to all parties involved.
  • Recently hired employees said they were provided limited direction on how to get started, weren’t sure of the tools needed to do their jobs, and were unaware of everything the OSU community has to offer.

 What is the process for making improvements to New Employee Onboarding?

  • A NEO Lean Team, comprised of representatives from Business Centers, the Office of Human Resources, OSU Shared Services, and Environmental Health & Safety, was formed to guide the project.
  • The NEO Lean Team mapped the original onboarding process. It revealed a lack of role clarity, duplication of effort, bottlenecks, lack of training in key areas, inconsistent processes, limited tools, areas of non-compliance, and a lack of a comprehensive roadmap.
  • The team received input and assistance from Academic Affairs, Office of Equity & Inclusion, General Counsel, the Research Office, Environmental Health & Safety, the Office of Human Resources, the Ombuds Office, University Relations & Marketing, and many others across campus.
  • An optimal “lean” process was developed that defines the desired workflow and clearly delineates responsibilities.

 How does this change benefit the OSU community?

  • It ensures new employees will receive comprehensive orientations and mandatory trainings.
  • New employees will feel welcomed and a part of the OSU community. They will become engaged and fully productive more quickly.
  • New resources and tools reduce duplication of effort, save time, and ensure a consistent approach.
  • Ongoing monitoring of newly developed metrics ensures a program that will continue to be flexible and responsive to the needs of OSU. 


NEO Resources



NEO Lean Team

The New Employee Onboarding Lean Team members below developed and implemented project goals with assistance from partners in Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, Transportation Solutions, Equity and Inclusion, General Counsel, University Relations & Marketing. Various employees and supervisors across OSU provided input and testing.


Team Members

Lori Wolcott (Auxiliaries and Activities Business Center), Lean Team LeaderOSU Flowers Building

David Barnes (University Administrative Business Center)

Mitchell Barrington (Auxiliaries and Activities Business Center)

Joey Carson (Arts and Sciences Business Center)

Donna Chastain (Office of Human Resources)

Karren Cholewinski (Finance & Administration)

Kim Cholewinski (Health Sciences Business Center)

Jennifer Creighton (Auxiliaries and Activities Business Center)

Michael Dooley (Health Sciences Business Center)

Tammy Hubert (Auxiliaries and Activities Business Center)

Luke McIlvenny (Business and Engineering Business Center)

Kay Miller (Environmental Health and Safety)

Cindy Myers (Agricultural Sciences and Marine Sciences Business Center)

Tracey O’Brien (Business and Engineering Business Center)

Jenna Reeves (Forestry, Oceanic and Atmospheric Business Center)

Melanie Rose (Finance & Administration)

Christina Schaaf (Office of Human Resources)


Linda Powell, Director of OSU Shared Services/Business Centers

Dave Blake, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, Facilities, Risk Management & Public Safety

Mike Green, Associate Vice President for Finance & Administration

Glenn Ford, Vice President for Finance & Administration/CFO (Executive Sponsor)


Patti Snopkowski, Chief Audit Officer





Training & Information

June 1, 2015

Presentation to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee

May 13, 2015

Presentation to the Provost's Council

March 20, 2015

Business Center HR Staff Training PowerPoint Presentation

Contact Us

Office of Human Resources


Oregon State University

204 Kerr Administration Building

Corvallis, OR  97331-2132


Phone:  541-737-3103

Fax:  541-737-7771

Email:  http://hr.oregonstate.edu/contact

Web: http://hr.oregonstate.edu/





Rapid Recruit

Smiling business people


The Recruitment and Selection Lean Process Improvement Team unveiled the Rapid Recruit Web Tool on February 3, 2015. It enables all departments and units across OSU to quickly and easily initiate recruitment requests within the Online Recruiting System through an easy automated process. This innovative electronic form saves time for hiring units. Processing time from submission to posting by the Business Center HR team will now be as fast as two days!


How does it work?

  • The Rapid Recruit Web Tool can be used for academic teaching/research, administrative and professional faculty, and classified staff recruitments that have had a position description updated or established within 12 months prior to posting.
  • This automated recruitment initiation form includes user-friendly fields that make it quick and easy to provide necessary information.   
  • Helpful links provide strategies and examples to assist with recruitment efforts.   
  • An integrated upload feature makes it easy to attach organizational charts, draft position announcements, and any required budgetary documents for streamlined review.
  • Automated routing directs submitted recruitment forms to your Business Center Human Resource Team for review and further action.


When and how do I access and start using the Rapid Recruit Web Tool?

The Rapid Recruit Web Tool is available now! It can be accessed on the Office of Human Resources website.  


Where can I find more information about the new tool?

For more information and assistance with the Rapid Recruit Web Tool, please contact your Business Center Human Resources team:

Lean Resources

Lean process improvement concepts can be applied to all sorts of work-flows, from complex systems that span multiple departments to smaller processes within your own work groups. These resources can provide you with direction and inspiration to tackle improvements on your own. The Lean Sponsors welcome you to contact us with your suggestions for broad, cross-departmental process initiatives that can be included on the Leaning Forward at OSU project list.


Lean Toolbox Button Orange Gears


 Our favorite Lean websites: 

What is Lean?: A quick overview of what Lean Process Improvement is, and how it works, courtesy of the Lean Enterprise Institute.

Lean EPA: See how the Environmental Protection Agency is applying Lean to government work. This site is full of great tools and information.

Lean Enterprise Institute Knowledge Center: Templates and forms that will help you develop your Lean project.

University of Washington Operational Excellence: Explore the University of Washington’s Lean program and get motivated by their successes.


Our favorite Lean blogs:

Planet Lean: The Lean Global Network Journal

Gemba Academy, Blog and Podcasts

The Lean Post


OSU Lean Toolbox

These tools can help you streamline a process within your work group:Orange wrench graphic

Leaning Forward Process Checklist (fillable pdf)

Step-by-step guide to managing a process improvement project.

Process Prioritization Tool (Excel)

Determine whether an issue is appropriate for Lean treatment, and its priority relative to other projects.

Lean Event Scoping Guide (pdf)

How to identify what aspects of a process you will focus on.

Lean As-Is Process Mapping Guide (pdf)

How to map a current process to identify issues.

Implementation Priority Tool (Excel)

Determine and prioritize the cost, ease, and impact of potential solutions.