Award of Excellence – Student Project

An IT College student or team that exhibited excellence while delivering a capstone project

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- University of Dayton / Whirlpool Corporation

Continuous Improvement Management System

Describe the type of IT services that your student or student team provided (e.g. programming, database administration).

Our team performed requirements gathering as well as sample forms and reports to guide system development through a third-party developer.  Since our project is focused on the entirety of the SDLC process, we provided physical hardware recommendations such as the usage of Chromebox, computers, televisions, mounts, etc. While not directly IT work, system implementation assistance in the form of marketing materials like training videos and posters from Adobe were created. Additionally, after system implementation, the client will be utilizing our team’s maintenance plan regarding a triage method as well as change management documentation.

Describe the project that was undertaken. What was done, for what purpose?

Our team has been working to build a Continuous Improvement Management System for Whirlpool. Our client came to us with a business problem of utilizing a white board for employees to write suggestions; however, these suggestions were frequently not getting addressed. To fix this, we worked with our client and the employees to build a system that creates ownership of employee ideas and suggestions. In order to increase employee engagement and drive change within the company, we have built a system and process flow for employees to input ideas or suggestions via a kiosk, and a member of upper management takes accountability for each idea by assigning themselves as the Idea Champion. By working through the process flow, the ideas are implemented and tracked through the idea life cycle that we built. Upper managers change the status of the ideas throughout the idea life cycle and assign champions through their personalized accounts. Employees are able to track the status of the ideas they input through a leader board which is displayed on a large TV screen. This system allows for employees to suggest ideas that would benefit their work experience and ensures that they are addressed in the appropriate manner. Ultimately, through providing this system Whirlpool is hoping to increase employee engagement as well as to gather better quality and greater quantity of ideas regarding process improvement.  

Describe aspects of the undertaking such as challenges overcome or team collaboration.

There have been many different aspects that our team has had to overcome to make this project successful. Our client is located in Greenville, Ohio which is about an hour away from our team. This challenge enhanced our virtual communication skills, as most of our meetings took place via phone and a lot of important communication was done over email. Additionally, our third-party developer, Planbox, is also located out of Ohio and our team has only met with them virtually. To overcome this challenge, our team setup from the start a weekly phone call time with our client where agendas were placed in a shared Google Team Drive beforehand. Similarly, one member of our team focused primarily on client communications to ensure a quick response time. The importance and necessity of setting up meetings with our client and developer was crucial in being successful while communicating virtually. Another challenge was during the development phase regarding user authentication for employees. Originally, we wanted each employee to sign in at the kiosk with personalized accounts. Due to seasonal employees and the disadvantage of employees having to remember passwords, we got both business leaders and technical teams into the same conversation to mutually conclude that it was best to create one account for kiosk sign-in to maintain a user-friendly interface.  

Describe the result of the project. As a collaborating company, what was the response to the work / project? How will this impact your company's efficiency and/or productivity?

This project has resulted in a system that will increase employee engagement and drive change in the company. Employee satisfaction will increase due to their ideas and suggestions being addressed and easily tracked. This system will go live on March 16th, and we have built reporting tools to ensure that change is brought to life through this system. With this system there will be the ability to better track trends in suggestions and the degree to which ideas are being implemented. Some of the metrics tracked include number of ideas submitted per category (e.g. process, safety), total ideas per person, total ideas per shift, average amount of time it takes to implement an idea, and champions that have ideas past due. Ultimately, Whirlpool will become more productive by implementing ideas that upper management may not have thought about. Our client has been very receptive to our ideas throughout the entire process from start to finish. A great example of this is during our milestone presentations where many members of the Distribution Center were present in addition to individuals from the Manufacturing Plant in hopes of getting them excited about the potential to scope this system to other Whirlpool facilities. As launch gets closer, we are increasingly excited to observe hands-on the benefits to the employees.  

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