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Arden & GEM CSU > Services > Business Support > Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence

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  • Early results programme
  • Small Improvement Groups (SIG) - Kaizen and Rapid Process Improvement Workshops
  • Systems for Management
  • Academy training and coaching - Lean NHS training workshops, ISO audit training and CQC mock inspections

Operational Excellence is a vital part of the NHS’ vision to establish a sustainable financial model identified in the Five Year Forward View. Our team has experience of working in all health care environments as well as private sector organisations to deliver effective and efficient working.

Arden & GEM's Operational Excellence team was established in 2014 and has been working with internal teams and NHS England to improve productivity and reduce operating costs using proven management technologies such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Specifically designed for use throughout the NHS, our experienced team delivers solutions ranging from refresher workshops and bespoke training to in-depth process improvements and cultural change programmes.

We often find that organisations are aware of which processes or areas require improvement, we provide a complimentary observation service and provide a set of clear recommendations as to the potential improvements and savings within that area.

We bring:

The Operational Excellence service listens to your organisation and offers expertise, services and tools to support ideas that increase quality, reduce costs, improve operations and generate revenues within NHS environments.

  • Early Results Programme
  • Small Improvement Groups (SIG) 
  • Business Process Rationalisation
  • Systems for Managing
  • Academy 

Early Results Programme

Engage staff in identifying and resolving local waste issues, irritations AND generate new ideas

  • Establish the Quick Wins programme into a team, department or area.
  • Each report from staff contains a potential solution to a known or unrecognised operational problem.
  • Every report asks the initiator to identify a potential solution with potential savings.
  • Staff engagement is high, improving ownership of change.
  • Often used as a precursor to a change programme.
  • Monthly savings report generated.

Small Improvement Groups (SIG)

Training and involving staff in change; making improvements

  • Engage with managers/staff to generate improvements in 6-12 weeks.
  • Support through training, coaching and mentoring.
  • Agree SIG team, ideally cross departmental teams of 3-6 people.
  • Use Lean/Sigma approach to identify wastes.
  • Use A3 Problem Solving to trial and measure improvements.
  • Implement and realise benefits.

Business Process Rationalisation

A project based approach to optimise end to end processes/pathways.

  • Using Lean/Sigma approach, optimise business processes wherever possible with transparent and robust procedures
  • Modifying Standard Operating Procedures as appropriate to maximise performance without compromising the robustness of the system
  • Ensuring IT/Robotics is used wherever practical and appropriate

System for Managing

A controlled and managed business – establishes one version of the truth through effective management systems that focus on forecasting, planning, assigning, following up and reporting on the work done by the team, area, department. Focuses on surfacing variances and proactively problem solving them.  Highly visual and engaging for both staff and managers. 

  • Working with local management to develop and implement a comprehensive SFM with appropriate KPIs. Reporting, Review and Reaction
  • Tying in the SFM to existing policies and frameworks
  • Developing a strong ethos of control and improvement through review and reaction
  • Build “visual management” to aid transparency and understanding


Managers/ Leads trained in Lean/Sigma and other proven performance building technologies

  • Tailored training programmes on performance improvement techniques
  • Phased delivery to protect business as usual
  • Participants encouraged to use learning to identify improvements in their own areas during the courses
  • Tailored coaching to reinforce learning and facilitate action
  • A return on investment as a result of utilising  course techniques


Our multi-disciplinary team has a wealth of experience from the NHS, private and third sectors, which includes working with one of the world’s leading healthcare organisation’s Virginia Mason, based in Seattle, USA.

Crucially, we understand many of the challenges facing the NHS today and can draw upon our experiences working with acute trusts, mental health trusts, community services, commissioning services, provider services and national bodies.

We have significant expertise in project management, change management, strategic planning, capacity management, financial analysis and planning, metrics, and communications. 

Drawing upon best practice in each of these areas, we work with you to produce successful outcomes - from helping to build early-stage ideas to providing project management expertise that delivers results.

Our experience:

To date our team has generated savings within Arden & GEM, in areas such as:

  • 80% reduction in processing time for completing customer dashboards
  • £26,000 per year saving due to a reduction in the need for Job Evaluation panels
  • Over 520 hours per year saved within the Communications team when producing daily news roundup bulletins for customers saving over £22,900 per year

Typical savings generated through the approach within industry are*:

Productivity improved 45–75%
Cost reduction 22–55% 
Throughput / flow increased 60–90% 
Quality defects / errors reduced 50–90%
Inventory reduced 60–90% 
Lead Time reduced 50–90% 

* Source: Virginia Mason Medical Centre


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Alternatively please email contact.ardengem@nhs.net