The significant time and money savings resulting from adoption of the appraisal waiver process were clear to most of those involved. As Chart 6 illustrates, the savings in most States were enormous. Florida did not realize the monetary savings from the appraisal waiver process to the extent of the other four States due to state rules and policies, not the appraisal waiver process itself. Chart 6 depicts the cost savings by State as well as an accumulative total.
No evaluation on quality management systems would be complete without noting the potential for additional improvements. The quality process demands a push toward continuous improvement of customer focus and operational procedures. Quality is a journey, not a destination.
There are four major opportunities for improvement in the quality planning process:
In most of the organizations studied, strategic planning took place at levels higher in the DOT and included limited input from the various ROW divisions. In other words, the ROW's goals were in a large part set by others outside of the division. The opportunity exists for ROW divisions to implement their own strategic quality planning initiatives that include sub-goals, action items, resource deployment plans, and recognition systems specific to the needs of the division. In this way, the mission and goals of the division can be aligned with the mission and goals of the larger organization.
Along with the strategic planning initiative comes the opportunity for everyone to take part in the goal planning process. Goals set by the division should be measurable, and personnel within the organization should be held accountable for them.
In order to evaluate these goals, organizations need to deploy the correct performance indicators. Performance indicators should measure input to a process, not the output of it. ROW divisions should periodically reevaluate their performance indicators to make sure that they truly measure performance.
Finally, within the planning process, there is the opportunity for ROW organizations to develop additional internal and external measures of performance. In this way, divisions can collect a well-rounded cross section of data pertaining to customer evaluation of their operational excellence.
In addition to observations pertaining to planning, there are three opportunities for improvement in operational processes, including (1) the opportunity for continuous employee training and empowerment, (2) the opportunity for improved communication skills, and (3) the need for sharing processes and databases throughout the entire organization.
Additional education and employee empowerment lead to increased job satisfaction and personal performance, and put decision-making closer to the customer. There is the
opportunity in any technical arena to improve communication between technical personnel and the rest of the organization. Improved communication in a technical setting can help smooth workload requirements, prevent misunderstanding, and build common bonds between personnel.
Finally, there is an opportunity for STD organizations in general to develop processes and databases that are used across functional and geographic boundaries. Building an integrated transportation system is more that just the design of that system, the procurement of the parcels, or the construction of the highway. It is an integrated process that demands integrated processes and databases to become truly effective.
There has been a major shift in the mindset of managers and employees in many ROW organizations on the quality improvement process. They realize that quality can be seen with job requirements, internal employee satisfaction, and external customer supports. ROW divisions have come to view quality as not "just another program" or additional cost to the organization, but as an investment in their future. This investment has led to significant, measurable improvements in the processes and services provided by the various States in this study, including the cost savings that result from doing the job better.
Good luck in implementing your quality improvement process and enjoy the journey!