AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION

How Longevity Consulting transformed the USDA into a leaner, meaner machine to better support America’s farmers.

Read Time: 3 minutes

How Longevity Consulting transformed the USDA into a leaner, meaner machine to better support America’s farmers.

Contents

  • Introduction: A Call for Sustainable Change
  • Problem: Difficult Conditions Threaten Growth
  • Solution: Cultivating a Modern Approach
  • Results: Reaping the Rewards

INTRODUCTION:

A CALL FOR SUSTAINABLE CHANGE

Under the Obama administration, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack first planted the seeds for change within the USDA. At the time, American agriculture was experiencing its most productive period in U.S. history. By adopting new technologies, reducing debt, and running smarter businesses, farmers and ranchers were generating record farm income and exports, and driving rapid declines in unemployment throughout rural America.

For Vilsack, the question was simple: How can we sustain and enhance growth and productivity for generations to come? The answer came in the form of The Blueprint for Stronger Service, a plan to increase efficiency in USDA operations. Longevity Consulting was awarded a five-year contract for Lean SixSigma continuous process improvement services and training to supported the launch of the Secretary’s enterprise-wide focus on improving business operations.

THE PROBLEM:

DIFFICULT CONDITIONS THREATEN GROWTH

Despite the newfound prosperity of the agricultural industry, farmers still needed significantly more support from the USDA to keep growing. But a few major factors stood in the USDA’s way:

  • Reduced funding. The government had cut funding to the USDA by $3 billion, about 12% since 2010.
  • Hidden inefficiencies. The labor hours needed to complete projects exceeded what was reasonably required.
  • Legacy workflows. Antiquated and highly varied processes caused extensive delays in delivery of key services.

These challenges interfered with the USDA’s ability to serve and support farmers in a timely, effective way—and threatened to stifle the flourishing agricultural economy.

THE SOLUTION:

CULTIVATING A NEW APPROACH TO SERVICE

To better serve America’s farmers, make the most of the department’s talent, and spend taxpayer dollars more responsibly, the USDA needed more than a quick fix. They needed a whole new way of working and enlisted Longevity to lead the charge.

Longevity’s transformation team designed and executed change management programs across 20 different agencies within the USDA. Using Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma, they identified and tackled the three most critical problems at each agency and revolutionized the way the department’s 110,000 employees worked.

Transformation in six steps

How Longevity guided the USDA to a better way of working

  • Evaluate. Conducted a top-to-bottom evaluation of each agency’s current state, including detailed data analytics on 50+ project processes and value-add analysis on 75 workflows
  • Target. Identified thousands of process improvement opportunities, utilizing tools and techniques including Quick Hits and Rapid Improvement Events (RIE), to achieve measurable performance gains
  • Design. A comprehensive program was designed for each agency, comprised of custom trainings, activities, and materials using proven tools and methodologies
  • Deploy. Rolled out highly organized and engaging programs to build awareness and enthusiasm, train teams and leaders, and implement the new way-of-work (WoW)
  • Support. Mentored CPI managers, sponsors, and practitioners through the successful selection and completion of hundreds of CPI project opportunities
  • Report. Provided clear reporting on key performance metrics via robust data dashboards and visualizations

THE RESULTS:

GENERATING VALUE AND REAPING REWARDS

The work USDA did with Longevity led to significant gains in the areas that matter most, including:

  • Speedier service. Example: Reduced industry testing time for master seed sets by 50%, saving agricultural businesses over $3 million in lost revenue
  • Reduced labor costs. Example: Reduced labor cycle time by 25% in grants issuing process for extramural agreements by eliminating 29 process steps
  • Higher quality. Example: Significantly increased accuracy of Annual Resource Management Plan System (ARMPS) and drove 35% reduction in time required to complete
  • Better performance. Example: Re-engineered the Rural Development (RD) agency structure to accommodate a 25% budget cut via a 5-day offsite event

Together, the USDA and Longevity set a new standard for operational efficiency and laid the groundwork for continued, measurable process improvement in the months and years to come.

CONCLUSION:

TRANSFORM HOW YOU WORK AND SERVE FOR THE BETTER.

The challenges faced by the USDA are hardly unique. Across the Federal government, departments are under increasing pressure to find more efficient and effective ways to work and serve the American public. As technology rapidly reshapes the world around us, that need is only growing more urgent.

Longevity can help you cut through the clutter and deliver greater value to the people you work with, and the citizens you serve. And we can do it at a friendlier price point than you’ll find at the big firms.

Get in touch, and let’s make something great happen.
1.800.517.1925 | info@longevityconsulting.com