Pareto Award winner: The route to excellence for Sound Transit
Teamwork promotes excellence
The Sound Transit Procurement and Contracts Division holds an annual retreat off-site, facilitated by a professional consultant who helps the group review goals and objectives, mission and values. The Procurement and Contracts Division promotes values of accountability, integrity, respect, efficiency and teamwork. The retreat enables team members to re-assess, re-confirm and re-connect with each another through educational and fun tasks/games to build team strength and commitment.
An example of the pride Sound Transit employees have in their organization is the practice of “street teaming” whenever the transit system opens new service. The whole agency is involved as new transit service is being launched, with employees from every department on hand to help riders during the launch. “We get to hear directly from some of the riders how Sound Transit has affected their lives,” said Alexander. “Sound Transit employees like getting out there and talking to our riders and feeling like we’re making a difference.”
Procurement improvements at Sound Transit include implementing a Contracts Help Desk within the Contracts System Section to ensure timely response to internal customers and to provide a central point to submit requests and questions. The Contracts Help Desk also provides internal customers a central location for assistance utilizing Oracle’s JD Edwards Enterprise One (E-1) system. This system is used for the issuance of purchase orders, payments to vendors and consultants, and other purchasing and accounts payable activities. Help Desk data is collected and analyzed to evaluate areas for additional training and improvement.
The Procurement Activity List (PAL) is a checklist of activities for solicitations (Requests for Proposals or Qualifications and Invitations for Bid) from the initial discussion with the Project Manager through award and notice to proceed. The PAL includes sample documents for the various activities required for issuing solicitations. The team worked together to create this helpful tool in producing work for the agency, and it works continually updating and revising it. This tool helps to ensure regulatory compliance and confirms that everyone is working under the same processes and procedures. Utilizing best practices ensures that procurement provides consistent and quality work. At the request of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the PAL has been recently showcased at a national FTA Conference by the Division Director. The FTA wants to make the PAL a model for other agencies to follow.
In 2011, the Procurement and Contracts Division began utilizing a Kaizen/Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) initiative to work with internal departments to review and evaluate workflow with the assistance of a professional consultant, to achieve improvements in workflow processes. RPI is a fast cycle method of removing waste, improving quality, improving morale and reducing costs within a specific process. In working with the Accounts Payable department, procurement was able to eliminate some duplicate processes and streamline others, greatly reducing the time from invoice to payment, and achieving a more effective and responsive workflow. Similarly, a cross-functional group assessed the Change Order process using RPI, reducing the lead time of change order process; clarifying cross functional roles; increasing early cross functional collaboration and reducing redundancies.