Our Quality Journey

It’s been said that quality is a journey, not a destination. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great stops along the way. Earning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is one of the most significant milestones on our journey so far.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took years of careful analysis and implementing hundreds of process improvements to get us to this point. And we’ll continue to collect data and continuously improve our processes in the years ahead.

The first steps began in 1993 when management implemented a Total Quality Management program, designed to completely overhaul operations and service delivery by becoming customer-focused and quality-oriented. The central feature of the program was a new business model that would take us from ‘government as usual’ to a high-performance municipal corporation. In 1995, staff implemented the strategic and business planning system we continue to use today. Prior to 1993, staff would react to issues as they came up, rather than proactively analyzing, planning and measuring.

The business model starts with the Strategic Plan that contains the City’s mission, from which the City Commission develops strategic priorities to focus the daily efforts of all City employees. The priorities are identified through customer requirement data, an environmental scan, and a variety of process and performance measures. Directional statements and Key Intended Outcomes (KIOs) for each priority help define success for the organization.

The City staff then develops a Business Plan that responds to the Strategic Plan with initiatives and a financial strategy to accomplish the outcomes identified. Resources are allocated in the budget according to the design articulated in the Business Plan.

We believe that before we can allocate our available resources, we must first understand the needs and desires of the residents of Coral Springs and the environmental factors that will affect us in the future. By looking ahead and asking our customers what they need, we establish a vision for what level of service we will provide, along with an understanding of what resources will be necessary to provide them.

Based on the business plan, each employee develops personal objectives that tie back to the KIOs. By linking each City employee’s objectives to the KIOs, the City’s priorities become real in the everyday activities of all City employees.

One of the earliest initiatives, to flatten the organization and promote employee empowerment, although stressful, actually worked. Since then, our employees are faster on their feet and everyone is more engaged in their work. Our productivity — as measured by employees per 1,000 population — is significantly better than other area governments.

Another key to our success is participation in the Center for Performance Measurement of the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA). Collecting and reporting data on ICMA’s templates enables Coral Springs to compare their outcomes against a large number of other communities.

In 1995, we began using the Baldrige criteria as a model for improving the City’s processes. Using the Florida Governor’s Sterling Criteria for Organizational Performance Excellence, Florida’s equivalent to the Malcolm Baldrige Award, we began slowly shaping our business model to efficiently and effectively respond to customer needs and expectations. After a couple of unsuccessful applications, Coral Springs was awarded the Sterling Award In 1997, becoming the first local government in the nation to win a Baldrige-based quality award.

We continued to look for more ways to Improve, many times through cross-functional process Improvement teams. Among the dozens of teams we’ve used, two competed and won regional and state quality competitions, our EMS team “Time=Life” In 1998 and our traffic citation “CSI” team in 2005. Both of these teams went on to with regional and state awards. The ‘Team=Life” team also won fourth place in a national competition.

After many more process improvements and even more impressive results, we applied again for the Sterling Award in 2003, becoming the first two-time winner.

When the Baldrige pilot program was launched for 2006 we were excited to participate.After being selected for a site visit, we used the feedback report to implement numerous other process improvements.

We have learned from the successes and recognition, but have also learned from bumps along the road. The Sterling Award examiners’ feedback in our initial Sterling application was critical to moving Coral Springs towards a more balanced approach of performance measurement. Making the extra effort to try out new approaches like the quarterly performance reporting and the ICMA consortium has helped us develop expertise and fine tune their overall quality initiatives.

One of the most important lessons for our City has been that simpler has been better. We have dramatically streamlined the performance measurement process, tracking fewer but higher quality indicators. The Strategic and Business Plan are short, easy to read documents. Even the Budget has become lighter and more user-friendly.