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Getting Started with Process Improvement

Oct 29, 2020
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One of the main terms batted around in business today, process improvement, sounds straightforward, but it confuses many people. A common misconception assumes that process improvement only works in manufacturing, but the service industry can also use process improvement.

Some implementations for process improvement bury obtaining managerial support as the third step or lower, but in truth, the edict to conduct process improvement should come from the managerial level or C-level. Steering organizational change and process changes should come from the top levels and flow downward as tasks.

  1. You must define your existing processes before you can improve them. This means writing down each process, step-by-step. The ideal method for this is to watch the process occur and write each step-down. Create detailed flow diagrams.
  2. Analyze the current process to identify bottlenecks. You might do this by using operational surveys, process mapping, or cause/effect analysis.
  3. Strategize the improvements. This means you list the broken process steps, the reason for improving them, and the financial resources needed.
  4. Develop improvement objectives. You need numeric objectives. This means you need an existing metric to which you can compare the improved process efficacy.
  5. Implement improvements to the processes. The challenge will be to improve broken or problematic processes without causing a decrease in quality. The other main challenge is to alleviate delays while improving.
  6. Improving processes results in saving money. You also enhance product quality, reduce waste, and create an improved user experience.

While the steps above provide a generic method, you might use specific business philosophies such as kaizen, Six Sigma, or Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle. If you choose the Japanese method of kaizen, you will need someone observing the manufacturing floor at all times to make constant, small improvements that increase productivity and make it easier and safer for workers to do their jobs. While no process is ever improvement complete, kaizen requires day-to-day work while the other process methods use an iteration approach. You might implement them every six months or annually.

Software such as that available at https://mcaconnect.com can help you create the plan and the analysis plus simplify the process by assisting with organizing the information. By providing prompts within the program, the software can simplify the process. This contributes to the strategy process, too, but does not replace management and engineers studying potential improvement solutions. The software helps you, but it does not conduct the process improvement for you. 

One of the main terms batted around in business today, process improvement, sounds straightforward, but it confuses many people. A common misconception assumes that process improvement only works in manufacturing, but the service industry can also use process improvement. Some implementations for process improvement bury obtaining managerial support as the third step or lower but in truth, the edict to conduct process improvement should come from the managerial level or C-level. Steering organizational change and process changes should come from the top levels and flow downward as tasks.

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