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Operational Excellence: enabling continuous improvement across Serco and providing rehabilitative development for prisoners

Operational Excellence (OE) is a collection of principles, systems and tools which eliminate waste and variation to improve efficiency and effectiveness which creates a chain reaction of benefits for our customers, service users, employees and our company.

Our OE vision is a continuous improvement culture that engages our customers and makes a difference every day.

Yellow Belt training teaches basic problem-solving techniques. After training, employees lead two small improvement initiatives to enhance performance within their department. Whereupon they attain Yellow Belt Certification – externally accredited by the Institute of Continuous Improvement in Public Services. Green Belt training is a longer course that teaches complex problem-solving tools and techniques, focuses on cross-department improvement projects and culminates in accredited Green Belt Certification.

The Serco OE programme is deployed globally across all sectors and regions and nearly 3,500 employees around the world have completed training to date. Examples of OE benefits successfully delivered in Serco UK & Europe include: increased recycling at multiple Serco Leisure sites which has diverted significant quantities of waste from landfill; reduced waiting times for patients and visitors in hospitals; and accelerated processing of parking badge applications for people with disabilities at Hertfordshire County Council.

In 2019, we trialled a unique new initiative: Yellow Belt training for prisoners in our care at HMP Ashfield, in support of improved prisoner resettlement and employment after release. We adapted our Yellow Belt training to suit the custodial environment and advertised the opportunity within the prison. Seven prisoners successfully completed the training and delivered two improvement projects each – focusing on such benefits for the prison and prisoner community as improved health and safety, improved process performance, less waste and increased access to Prison services. A Yellow Belt Certification event was held in the prison to recognise their successful achievements.

All prisoners reflected that the training had been a success and was a learning experience that will help them with resettlement and employment. A second cohort commenced training in early 2020 and we are exploring opportunities to extend the initiative to other prisons in our custodial estate globally.