Frequently Asked Questions about Institutional Improvement
What is the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP)?
A systematic method of continuously improving processes to better meet and exceed stakeholder needs and expectations.
Why would an organization want to get involved in CIP?
CIP provides the philosophy, the steps, and the tools needed to launch the institution on a journey of achieving excellence and success while serving our students and external stakeholders. In short, CIP, when deployed effectively, will aid in taking our institution to the next level of success. CIP provides great return on investment. It will save time, money, and other resources, while involving people at every level of the organization in improving the processes to better meet student and stakeholder needs.
What is AQIP?
AQIP stands for Academic Quality Improvement Program. It is an innovative and effective alternative to the traditional re-accreditation process for the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. AQIP is based on continuous improvement principles and values and focuses on 9 AQIP Categories:
- Helping Students Learn
- Meeting Other Distinctive Objectives
- Understanding Student and Stakeholder Needs
- Valuing People
- Leading and Communicating
- Supporting Institutional Operations
- Measuring Effectiveness
- Planning Continuous Improvement
- Building Collaborative Relationships
What is the Continuous Improvement Process?
CIP is designed to focus small teams of the right people on a problem or an opportunity that we need to address anyway. CIP provides proven methods and tools that aid in getting the team and the whole institution to real and lasting solutions that ulitmately save time and effort while improving service to students and stakeholders.
Who oversees the Continous Improvement Process Teams' work?
Institutions use different oversight methods to monitor teams' progress. At Richland, the Quality Council is comprised of representation for all major areas. One of the Quality Council's charges is to lead and coordinate the CIP process. The Quality Council reports to the Institutional Effectiveness Group, also comprised of stakeholders from all major areas.
How do teams learn what to do?
Training in the Continuous Improvement Process is critical for a team's success. Some team members received intensive training when Richland first moved to AQIP and Continuous Improvement. Now, a 5-session training introduces new employees to the CIP process. When teams are formed, a facilitator meets with them to review the seven-step process and expain the project, completion dates, and other team requirements. Teams with experienced members do not require much assistance, and their work may be completed in a shorter time frame.
How many teams are working at one time?
Team formation is done formally by the Quality Council and the Institutional Effectiveness Group each fall. However, divisions also use CIP when working on processes and challenges. No "magic number" of teams exists; the decision is based on the recommendations of the Quality Council and the Institutional Effectiveness Group.
What is the biggest mistake teams usually make?
The most common problems teams have are examining too large a process at one time and trying to address a problem that is not clearly defined. The Quality Council and Institutional Effectiveness Group help by narrowing the project before identifying the team leader, sponsor, and members. In addition, regular reports to the Quality Council also help guide the teams so that they can complete their work in a reasonable but aggressive time frame. Teams need to use the quality tools as they are making decisions and consult resources in the institution in creating their recommendations.
What is the most rewarding part of CIP for the individual?
Being part of a team that succeeds in improving the institutions, even in a small way, is a motivator for doing more great work. Strengthening connections with other team members and learning about the institution are other benefits.