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Less is More

By Robyn Undieme | April 2, 2015

This week's blog is a story about a small group of City employees in Water & Sewer and Streets & Stormwater, who saw a problem with a process, and decided to fix it. These are our heroes in the MAAP Office and I'd like to take this week to brag on them for just a moment.

About two years ago I was assigned to work with Tom Graham in Human Resources to update the uniform policy and pare down the uniform items the City offered to a more reasonable selection. Unbeknownst to me, this ended up being a rather daunting task for Tom and me. It became clear rather quickly that employees found the uniform order process to be unorganized, time consuming, and often more complicated than it should be. Being brand new to the City, it was an eye-opening experience.

Just this month I happened to run into Tom again. He was excited to tell me how smooth the uniform order process is two years later. Pleasantly surprised, I asked him what the reasons were for such a change from where we were two years ago. He said it wasn't due to him; rather it was a team of people in the different departments that made all the difference.

I should note that I interviewed only five of those individuals that Tom specifically mentioned to me, but I'm told there are several more to spread the accolades around to as well. So, if you know any uniform coordinators in your department, please feel free to pat them on the back or give them a high five for me.

I met with Ann Nuttall, Philip Eakes, Celicia Warren, Gary McColpin and Georgene Rasmussen, in Water & Sewer and Streets & Stormwater. They brought me the 60-page uniform document they receive as department coordinators for the uniform orders and explained how each employee use to sort through it. Half the items listed in this document are not even eligible items for employees to select, so it created confusion.

The uniform coordinators saw the issue and decided to simplify it. They created a short list of options that are specific to their department and section along with the year of the employee listed on the form to note what the employee is eligible to receive: that's all they hand out now. They also coordinate these forms with Steve at Unifirst to ensure accuracy of orders.

This is something so simple and yet it has made a huge difference. I asked them why this was never initiated before given it is such a common-sense solution. They noted two reasons: 1) sometimes there's a mentality that this is just how we do it, so we are stuck repeating bad processes, and 2) selecting a local, supportive, and flexible vendor like Unifirst has been extremely helpful and has been something they didn't have two years ago.

Here's to the City's uniform coordinators! Thank you for streamlining a messy process.  Together, with the assistance from Unifirst, these coordinators have reduced what was a yearlong process into a six -week process to receive uniform orders. That's incredible progress and one that the MAAP Office is proud to showcase!