OM in the News: Business Students Find Real World Applications for OM Topics
Crime-scene DNA is processed three weeks faster at a state forensic laboratory thanks to internship work by recent Washington State University graduate Kristina Hoffman, writes WSU News (Feb. 3, 2016). A forensic scientist with the Washington State Patrol, she applied “lean” business management practices that resulted in a 26% increase in productivity, $5,200 savings on overtime pay, and reduction in the average turnaround time for processing DNA samples from 93 days to 71.
“The importance and impact are immediately translatable to the public at large,” said the director of the WSU degree program. A DNA sample could help identify a serial criminal who would be arrested 3 weeks sooner, thus making communities safer. Alternately, if you were a suspect in jail awaiting DNA analysis, you time in jail would be shortened by 3 weeks,” she said.
For her internship, Hoffman sought to reduce the delay in DNA sample processing by applying the principles of lean management, the topic of Chapter 16, which systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality. She enrolled in Lean Agility, one of the WSU professional science master’s courses. At the State Patrol, she incorporated lean principles into various aspects of the workflow, from DNA case assignment to sample analysis to sample result reporting.
In the Lean Agility class, adds our new coauthor, Chuck Munson at WSU, students learn how to minimize problems and maximize productivity. They use statistical and logical techniques to identify and deliver improvements in production and operations management.
Classroom discussion questions:
- Ask students for ideas as to how lean could be used in companies they know.
- What are some areas in which lean could be applied at your college?