In 2000, the City of West Des Moines implemented a quality initiative throughout the entire organization. This initiative was created to address concerns relating to improvements in service, meet customer requirements, develop a process to make work more efficient and effective, and receive input from employees in the decision-making process. The City’s efforts were highlighted in an article entitled Road Map to Citywide Quality in the September 2007 issue of the International City/County Management Association’s PM (Public Management) Magazine.
The quality initiative is self-governed by the City Wide Quality Team (CWQT) which consists of each department head and one line employee of each department. The CWQT meets monthly in order to examine areas for improvement in processes and systems across organizational boundaries. Each department also has a Department Quality Team that address process improvement within their own department.
Process Action Teams
Process Action Teams (PATs) are formed by the CWQTand by Department Quality Teams to research and recommend solutions to processes. A PAT is a small group of employees that are stakeholders in the process being evaluated because the issue relates to their work. Serving on a PAT is voluntary and all members are trained in problem identification and data collection methods. If issues do not cross organizational boundaries, then they are designated for the appropriate department’s Quality Team.
PATs have studied and improved processes including workers compensation; the hiring process; the development review process; handling of blood borne pathogens; and methods of delivering employee training. Recommendations that have been implemented from the City-wide and departmental PATs have tremendously improved and streamlined service delivery.
Sampling of Citywide Process Action Teams
Below are summaries of six of citywide PATs undertaken so far and their recommendations. Citywide PATs can have an internal or external focus and often result in the creation of implementation teams to follow-through with the recommended solutions.
Facility Maintenance PAT: Studied and made recommendations on methods to improve the communication and execution of facility maintenance projects, including routine upkeep and repairs, emergency situations, and replacement of building related equipment.
Development Review PAT: The most complex process reviewed in the Quality Initiative. The team formulated 33 recommendations to improve the development review process. Highlights include a revised review process, a case advisor acting as single point of contact, a new development review team, and pre-submittal meetings.
Special Events PAT: Identified and implemented a shared electronic special event calendar, and streamlined the process to a one point of contact including sound and tent permits for special events. Created a clearer definition: "An activity occurring on city-owned public property for uses other than the properties intended use."
In-House Computer Training: As recommended by the In-House Computer Training PAT, a series of computer training opportunities (basic operations, word processing, spreadsheets, and e-mail) were held resulting in better hardware/software knowledge and a more productive work environment.
Code Enforcement PAT: Streamlined the appeals process from an appointed board to a Hearing Officer who provides background and knowledge in code enforcement and/or judicial experience. The resulting process has allowed the addressing of appeals within thirty days of a request.
New Hire Process PAT: Review of this process yielded comprehensive written policies to maintain consistent hiring practices, training to hiring managers to ensure they understand their role in the hiring process, and a simplified process for re-hiring returning seasonal employees.
Departmental PATs have covered topics like stormwater intake, communications, document flow, library appearance, equipment maintenance, and numerous other items. They reflect all aspects of the organization from public safety to community services to public works.