June 13, 2017

When you think of continuous improvement, what are some of the words that come to mind? Organization, improvement, efficiency and communication might be a few.  These, along with many others, are important components of being a continuous improvement manager at Discovery Benefits. And these are the types of skills and traits our improvement managers embody on a daily basis, to help make sure we’re continuously enhancing our technology and processes for the good of our customers.
Day in the Life of a Continuous Improvement Manager

Staying Organized

Getting organized for the day is the first thing you’ll find a continuous improvement manager doing when they get to the office. After they’ve settled in and grabbed their coffee for the morning, they check for any urgent emails and take a look at their calendars to prepare for any meetings that day. As part of the Project Management team at Discovery Benefits, these team members focus on organizing and supporting all levels of initiatives and projects that help drive technology and process changes at the company. As Continuous Improvement Manager, Kerry Helland, explained it in her own words, “We focus on the bigger picture. Essentially, there may be a better way to a solution by involving other areas of the company; one that may align with other teams’ planned changes.”

Because of this focus, the team helps with a lot of different projects and initiatives within the company – which also means they’re part of many different meetings and have a number of responsibilities for each project. This includes leading meetings, establishing project teams for initiatives, creating project plans, conducting process mapping and more. And throughout the process, they aim to keep the lines of communication open among all of the different teams and stakeholders working on any given project.

Practicing Flexibility

With so many different projects going on at one time, there are bound to be changes with project timelines, scope and more, so our improvement managers are accustomed to accommodating changes and being flexible while staying focused.

As Kerry shared, “One email, meeting or specific request can completely change my focus for the day or even the week, so the ability to quickly re-prioritize and re-focus is essential.” When these changes happen, improvement managers must adapt quickly. This helps ensure nothing is lost in the shuffle and helps projects stay on track.

Thinking Bigger Picture

With an ultimate goal of bringing departments across Discovery Benefits together to find solutions, our improvement managers are constantly thinking about the bigger picture. Their focus is on what’s best for our clients and participants as a whole, which means no matter how granular a project gets, they’re always on the lookout for how a decision or change will impact our company and those we serve.

Sometimes, to make sure they keep this focus, this means stepping away from the details of a project to ensure everything aligns with the strategic direction of the company. And sometimes this means they brainstorm together, bouncing ideas off of one another and asking for input from other improvement managers. Heidi Burgess, continuous improvement manager, says the team is always willing to help one another. “I love our team because we are all so different! We have very diverse skillsets and I love the fact that we can tap into each other for help,” she said. “Everyone is so genuine – anything I ever need, they would all jump in to help me in a second.”

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