IPS Commits to Continuous Improvement, Excellence

Category: Features

By Susan Robertson, IPS

From collecting performance measures to surveying customers to adopting the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence’s Baldrige quality philosophy, the Institute for Public Service (IPS) has a history of reflecting the Be One UT value of Excel in all we do.

For more than 20 years, IPS has collected data from each of its agencies to measure contacts, requests for assistance, training participants and economic impact. That data feeds into the overall university performance measures and is used by IPS to help measure its outreach success in Tennessee. Even before data collection began, IPS created a customer satisfaction survey that is distributed to its agencies’ customers every other year. The survey polls customers on such topics as the quality of the service they received from the IPS agency, how responsive the agency was in getting back to the customer after the initial request and the knowledge and ability of the staff member who assisted them.

For the first time in its history, IPS created a position to measure, analyze and review data to help the institute with its continuous improvement. Macel Ely, who previously served as executive director of the Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership, was selected in July to serve as the director of organizational improvement.

“Striving for organizational excellence is an ongoing passion of those who work at IPS. We recognize that merely collecting performance data is not enough,” Ely said. “That data must be leveraged to support our organization in making important decisions, as well as used in telling our organization’s story to customers and stakeholders. I am excited for this new opportunity to tell the IPS story and to continue the IPS legacy, which seeks to always excel and improve upon the essential services we provide to Tennesseans.”

In the last decade, IPS and its agencies have periodically submitted applications through the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). TNCPE is an organization that uses the Baldrige Excellence framework, a guide to performance management, assessment and excellence, to strengthen the state’s economic and organizational health. Applicants complete a self-assessment in seeking one of the four award levels. In 2017, IPS received the Commitment Award, and in 2020 the Center for Industrial Services also received the Commitment Award. Other IPS agencies have received Interest Awards in the past, and all of the agencies plan to continue to submit applications in the next couple of years.