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Student Process Improvement Projects 

Overview:  The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Industrial Technology Program is offering free Lean Process Improvement Projects as part of their MBA Lean Operations Management class (GSB 534).  We are looking for organizations who want to improve a process.  We believe this can be a win-win experience for our students and the Central Coast Lean community.  

Application Process:  We run this class once per year and are now in the process of building a list of Sponsor Organizations that want to work with student teams.  We have several student teams that want to start immediately this quarter.  If you and your organization are interested in a further conversation, please contact Prof. Eric Olsen at or 805 602-0228 with the following information:

  • Organization

  • Potential Process(s)

  • Process Location

  • Contact Info

Commitment by Sponsoring Organization:  To have a student team work with you, your organization needs to provide students with enough information and/or process access to provide the deliverables below for their project.  This may be in the form of tours, discussions, videos, Zoom meetings, and/or non-proprietary documentation and data on the current process.  Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are possible, but preferred due to their often “non-lean” timeline.  A high degree of site access is preferred.  Organizations will also provide direction on process improvement goals and feedback on the analysis and recommended improvements.

Project Description:  

"There are four purposes of improvement: easier, better, faster, and cheaper. These four goals appear in the order of priority."     – Shigeo Shingo


Each student will be assigned to a team (3-5) for completing a team project and class exercises and assignments.  Each team will:


  1. Select or be assigned a process (manufacturing, service, or community service) that they will analyze and improve using the concepts and tools learned in this class.  

  2. Submit a Draft Project Charter 

  3. Submit a Preliminary A3 Report to the instructor.

  4. Complete an A3 Report summarizing your analysis and the projected results either of your recommendations or your actual results if tested or implemented. 

  5. Complete a Present State VSM (11x17).

  6. Complete a Future State VSM (11x17).

  7. Make a Presentation to the project sponsors of your analysis and recommendations.  CC the instructor on a follow-up and thank you message.

  8. Make a 10-minute Presentation to the class (and process sponsors if available) consisting of no more than 10 PowerPoint slides (with notes per slide).  You are unlimited on “non-PowerPoint” components to your presentation.  Creativity and communication count!  Submit.

  9. Submit a business report for the instructor outlining the details of the presented A3.

Team Project Scoring Criteria

  1. Presentation and discussion leadership was professional.

  2. The team has correctly applied the scientific method (PDCA) to the situation.

  3. Creativity was appropriately applied to identify and solve the problem.

  4. The analysis, solution, and presentation represented the contribution of multiple team members.

  5. The team communicated a depth of knowledge of the situation.

  6. Based on the presentation, I have confidence in the team's proposed solution.  It is feasible.

  7. The presentation materials were clear and easy to understand.

  8. The solution correctly applies lean tools and techniques.  It is "no or low cost" and simple.

  9. The project "make(s) the world, society, community or a business better."

  10. The proposal has clear goals.

  11. The proposal has quantitative measures for success.

  12. The proposal has qualitative measures for success.


Peer evaluations will be collected to assess individual contributions to team performance and allow potential adjustments (positive or negative) to an individual’s team grade.

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