tiger fur photo
student affairs logo

What is Lean Process Improvement?

The 3 core concepts of Lean Process Improvement are standardization, elmination of waste, and continuous & incremental improvement. Lean thinking emphasizes creating valuable, low waste services, processes, & goods in the most efficient and cost effective way. While lean thinking began in manufacturing, it has made its way into nearly every other industry, including higher education. 


The Division of Student Affairs impacts every Clemson student in some way. It is the goal of SABO's Lean team to ensure that students have the best experience by making the processes that touch them the most time and cost effective. We also strive to provide lean training for university employees to create a workforce which is focused on continuous process improvement.


Kayla Cleveland is SABO's Process Improvement/Lean Coordinator. She works in conjunction with Lisa Knox, Director of Lean, and leads the Student Affairs Lean initiatives. Below are examples of past and current projects within Student Affairs as well as further information on how you can get involved.

Project examples

Department(s) Involved


Project Status

Project Scope

Current Updates/Outcomes

Housing & Dining, TigerOne Card



This event focused on the price change process from the point at which ARAMARK compiles and submits price change information to TigerOne until the barcode is scanned at the point of sale.
A LEAN event was performed where the current and future state were identified. From both, all employees involved developed an enacted an implementation plan. There were eighteen action items established; these were to be complete by the designated date, with the individual assigned to the task, providing periodical updates to the LEAN event team. To date, all items have been finalized and documented.

Housing & Dining


In Progress

This event will focus on the floor scrubbing process from the initial point of machine preparation, to the end of clean up. This process will help establish streamlined safety steps for machinery, prior to and after use.
Housing & Dining staff perform the aesthetic duties for every building on Clemson University campus. One major process is the floor scrubbing process involving 455 & 455b machinery. Employees are expected to efficiently know this process and have the ability to move from building to building, if necessary, and perform this process in a timely manner; then return to their initial area and continue with their duties. Knowing this process also means that employees should be aware of machine inspection/maintenance, and all possible safety issues that could arise involving themselves and occupants of the area. With the upcoming placement of a new Safety Director for Housing & Dining, the new process will present an established, streamlined process.

Key Processes & Procedures

In Progress

This event will focus on evaluating the current key tracking processes from the point where a student request a key, to the point where documentation is complete (this includes a re-core, if necessary).
Currently the key processes and procedures include both, staff and students. However, this initial Lean Event will solely focus on the processes performed by staff. Streamlining the key process for the desk staff will be a major way for desk staff (Resident Asst. or Desk Asst.) to take ownership of their duties. Due to mistakes, wrongful charges are being made, and facilities is dedicating 1 hour of labor per lock change. This event will raise the proficiency of the staff, and allow them to critically think through the key process when a student checks out a temporary key.

Housing & Dining Utilities Billing

In Progress

This event will focus on the utilities billing process from the time meter information is gathered through PC input, or manually read and recorded, to the point where the utilities bill is paid by Univ. Housing
Housing receives billing from Univ. Facilities for all utility usage on a monthly basis. There is no verification for bill accuracy, and no information is shared on how well or inefficient the individual buildings are performing. The billing cycle tends to get behind for a month or two; if one of the utility systems malfunction, old data cannot be looked into until weeks later.

SABO Financial Analysis

In Progress

There will be separate events to focus on the 4 main financial processes: Invoices, IDO's, Vouchers, and P-Cards. Each event will focus on the process from start to finish.
Currently, SABO analysts are receiving [Invoices, IDOs, Vouchers, and P-Cards] from their departments in various manners. This VSM (value stream map) will require all stakeholders to enter, and send, all [Invoices, IDOs, Vouchers, and P-Cards] in the same way.

How you can get involved

Get Lean Certified

Clemson offers training programs for employees who wish to participate in and lead process improvement projects. Visit the lean training website here to learn about the training process. If you are a Student Affairs employee wishing to get involved with the lean certification program, email Kayla at kaylac@clemson.edu to begin the process.

Suggest Projects

We are always looking for new areas to implement lean process improvement. If you have an idea for a project within your department or would like to discuss the possibilities, fill out this form and send it to Kayla at kaylac@clemson.edu.