Safer Choice staff and management had an increasing backlog of incoming applications to review and approve. The program’s partners’ satisfaction was decreasing as the program’s response time increased. The program was being managed using a complicated system of databases, spreadsheets, Word documents, PDFs, and email text that were being collected through multiple electronic and paper sources.
Safer Choice staff can communicate with program partners, immediately receive critical documentation, and seamlessly process submissions. The system facilitates program and project management, allowing data to be tracked historically, quickly creating interactive workgroup meeting agendas and action plans, and providing stakeholders the ability to monitor the progress of their applications and submissions. The system also significantly reduces version control issues, thereby providing increased quality. As the need for updated data increases, the system facilitates product review tracking and company audit tracking. Automated alerts are sent directly to product reviewers and company to ensure deadlines are met and information is collected timely. The system generates metrics on review times, approval rates, and product data that can be used by the Safer Program, the product reviewers, and the companies.
The system immediately created benefit for staff FTEs. Time previously spent drafting documents, reviewing incomplete submissions, and tracking reviews and audits was effectively eliminated. Responsiveness increased through reduced information transmission time and by enabling the partners to view status without Safer Choice staff interaction. Staff resources were redirected to support the mission of the Safer Choice Program. With the system now tracking documents and data, third-party submissions through email were phased out.
Safer Choice spoke with multiple contractors about many different options for resolving the program’s ongoing problems. Innovate! proposed a solution with a 75% reduction in development cost compared to the alternatives and provided the first sprint of system functionality within 72 hours of receiving the final requirements. When presented, the system not only brought clarity about the existing process but also opened up a vision for what the program could be. This vision subsequently led to continued improvements in efficiency, data quality and timeliness of product reviews.
The system is being used to audition product reviewers, allowing the Safer Choice program to easily outline the process for reviewing product submissions and create an environment for training and testing new reviewers before bringing them into the program.
EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT)