Virtual Improvement Event Update - August 2020

With the shift to virtual work, the Process Excellence team has developed a new improvement workshop, known as a Virtual Improvement Event (VIE). The VIE allows teams to make focused improvements on a critical process without the need to be colocated. This workshop consists of 3-4 virtual two-hour sessions that are designed to quickly explore problems and come up with solutions that can be tested immediately. Some of the activities in a VIE include: 

  • Mapping the current and future state of the process being assessed
  • Brainstorming idea that the team will test to improve their process
  • Analysis of metrics to inform the effectiveness of the team's improvements
  • Targeted action items to be completed in between sessions to further explore problems offline
  • Weekly huddles after the event, to ensure improvements are implemented and problems that arise are addressed


The new VIE process combines the rigorous improvement methodology of our in-person Launches...

...with the flexibility of virtual tools like Zoom, Miro, and Smartsheets to implement meaningful change.

The Process Excellence team is working with 3 teams on this new VIE process:

  • Dept of Medicine PostDoc Coordinators - The Department of Medicine is focused on aiding the PostDoc coordinator roles. Their aim is to create a supportive infrastructure designed to help the PostDoc Coordinator succeed in their role and thereby increase satisfaction and retention for the position. They’ve already started standardizing workflows and creating repositories of resources that PostDocs can use to complete their work, and will move forward looking to standardize job classes, optimize workloads, and address leave of absence coverage in order to address resilience. 

  • Financial Management (CD) - The Financial Management Cross-department team has been focused on reducing the occurrence of Labor Distribution Adjustments (LDAs) in the School of Medicine. Through their VIE, the team has been able to evaluate the process for initially setting up labor distributions for staff and come up with ways to ensure critical information is gathered early on in the process through the use of a Smartsheet form. The team is currently in the process of testing this form in multiple departments and is aiming to roll out this form to more teams in the near future.

  • Pediatric Surgery VIE - The Pediatric Surgery Team is working to improve patient discharge communication and coordination among admin and clinical team members. Their goal is to reduce time wasted in managing follow up needs and to improve satisfaction for families.  The team has defined a two phase approach to addressing identified pain points and is currently in the process of implementing the first phase.

Teams have been able to leverage virtual tools like Zoom, Miro, and Smartsheets to help implement and manage their improvements to great effect.

The VIE process has taught us a lot about how improvement happens here in the School of Medicine. Teams have appreciated the virtual nature of this process and the ability to quickly evaluate their work to come up with ways to improve. We’ve also learned ways that teams can enhance this process for themselves.

  • Come in with data - Many VIE participants have appreciated having data to react to and make decisions based off of. If you want to enhance your VIE experience, gather some data ahead of time that shows how big your problem truly is. Teams that have done this have said that it helps them pinpoint their focus and more easily come up with ways to improve their work.

  • Get set up EARLY - Like a launch, there is a fair amount of work that goes into a VIE. Multiple meetings and huddles have to be set up throughout the course of the VIE in order to ensure teams can thoroughly explore their problem, ideate, and put their solutions in place. The sooner you can schedule VIE meetings and huddles, the better prepared your team will be to focus on improvement instead of logistics.

Virtual improvement events have allowed us to approach improving our work in a way that we haven’t been able to before. Teams have been able to more quickly explore their problems and work collaboratively to fix them. If you’d like to see if a VIE can be useful for you and your team, reach out to the Process Excellence team at