When the Covid-19 pandemic began, agencies all throughout the City and County of Denver were hard at work identifying what they needed to innovate to adapt to the current circumstances. One organization that got an early start at innovating was Excise and Licenses (EXL). This agency participated in one of Peak Academy’s first virtually facilitated events, a Rapid Improvement Event focused on streamlining and reorganizing the EXL Shared Drive.

Why Change was Needed?

The EXL Shared Drive is utilized agency-wide for storing important documentation for teams such as Inspections, Licensing Technicians, Records Management, and several other areas crucial for the agency’s day-to-day operations. With an entire agency’s worth of employees leveraging it to store files, it grew to be a massive drive with 126 top-level folders containing 306,520 files total.

While EXL grew accustomed to their current file structure, they felt it was the perfect time to reimagine what their shared drive looked like in order to clearly and quickly communicate information and processes amongst staff and deliver customers the resources they need in an efficient and seamless manner.

The Participants

The Action Plan

  • The Rapid Improvement Event began by taking a deep dive into the current state of the shared drive. We came to a consensus on what types of files belonged and which ones should be removed (outdated files, personal files, loose shortcuts, etc.).
  • The group created a spreadsheet where each team can draft what their subfolders would look like and what files belonged in them. It was important to map out what the changes would look like beforehand because once they’re made in the actual shared drive, there’s no easy way to undo them.
  • Each team combed through their files and using the spreadsheet, identified if files would be kept, archived, or quarantined to be deleted at a later date. The goal of this step was to eliminate the clutter and organize what was left.
  • Once we reached a consensus on the new structure, the group was ready to make the actual updates in their shared drive. Because we had a solid plan in place, this step was completed within just a couple of days.
  • To sustain the new organized file structure, the group created standard work that outlined naming conventions, a maintenance schedule, and rules for keeping the drive clutter-free.
  • To help reinforce the naming standards, an abbreviation guide was created to familiarize staff with the common abbreviations in EXL.
  • The group then met at 30, 60, and 90-days to discuss the results of their innovation and update on any outstanding action items.
  • At the end of the Rapid Improvement Event, the group was able to showcase their work in a readout to EXL Leadership.
The group completed 80% of the Action Plan by the end of the Rapid Improvement Event
This spreadsheet helped the team proactively map out what the changes would look like

The Metrics and Outcomes

  • The innovation improved the way EXL employees felt about using the shared drive, improving their average satisfaction score from a 4/10 to a 9/10.
  • The total number of files was reduced from 306,520 all the way down to 124,000 Files.
  • The number of top-level folders was reduced from 126 down to 11 (folders designated for each team, and an archive folder).
  • The error rate of misplaced files was reduced from 31.3% down to just 10%.
  • The streamlined Shared Drive was ready to transition to a cloud-based SharePoint to improve accessibility while working remotely.
  • This innovation led to an annual soft savings of $72,707.70 (1,960.83 hours per year).

Innovator Q&A: Layla Meyer and Rodrigo Picasarri

What were the biggest challenges that you overcame with the Shared Drive Project?

Layla: “Initially, the quantity and scope of the project seemed daunting. The shared drive was a mess, disorganized, and there wasn’t any consistency in the way documents were named and stored, making it difficult to locate specific documents.”

Rod: “The biggest challenge to the Shared Drive Project was the fact that it was an area of our organization that had not received much (if any) operational attention. We were essentially starting from scratch and had to develop everything around it (strategy, policy, maintenance) from the ground up.”

What tools, strategies, or ideas helped make the project so successful?

Layla: “The PEAK team was incredibly helpful in giving us guidance and strategies regarding how to tackle such a large project, as well as help building out our “rules” going forward to make this improvement last beyond the project itself.

Having members from the various teams in our department helped to task the project, giving the primary users of a set of information the job of sorting through the documents. Everyone on the team worked hard and took it seriously, so we were able to get through a bulk of the work in a short amount of time.”

Rod: “The collaboration and buy-in from everyone on the project team was key in making the project successful. Every member of the project team took the assignment seriously and was proactive from the get-go. Because of the nature of the project, there was no one person that could have done this on their own, it required representation from all of our teams and we had that.

The PEAK team was also instrumental in the project in terms of providing some of those foundational skeletons that we didn’t have. The policies and maintenance strategies we have now are a result of PEAK having done previous projects like ours and us being able to leverage those tools.”

What about the new shared drive are you most proud of?

Layla: “It’s clean and organized in a way that makes it easy to find information and the transition to SharePoint has also helped with ease of access while working from home.”

Rod: “The ease of access. Both from an organization standpoint and also by moving the shared drive to SharePoint. Our drive is more accessible than ever and that is a huge win for us.”

What advice do you have for other innovators or people seeking to do a similar project?

Layla: “While a project may feel overwhelming, the PEAK team has the resources and experience to break it down in a way that makes it feel manageable and attainable. It’s also helpful to have concise goals and instructions. By having a clear plan for each day made it easy to work through our project one step at a time and kept team members engaged.”

Rod: “Really take advantage of the PEAK team and their expertise. They were a great resource to us. Also make sure that every person on your project team remains engaged and plan out your change management process before making any changes. Everyone being a part of the process is key in a successful project.”

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