5 Not-So-Simple Steps to Process Improvement
there are many more than 5 steps to process improvement. These
five 'not-so-simple' steps are the foundation or the pillars
of how improvement materializes.
There are countless books, academic studies
and courses on process improvement: they all have these 5
steps in common.
Although this first step may seem simple,
it may be the most difficult of the five. Generally, companies
believe they're doing everything as best they can and "there
is no other way" to do it. This step requires the support
of management to lead the way, create teams, define roles,
expectations and standards and be an example of change leadership.
Then, together, they can proceed to identify
process issues that require attention based on process mapping,
customer complaints, internal complaints, audits, and so on.
The step concludes when management and change teams agree
on a particular problem and that it can be documented and
changed for the better.
This step begins with process mapping and
identifying possible causes of the identified process problem.
Process flow charts and diagrams help the team document and
understand what the process is achieving, what its value is,
and what the results could be if the process was changed.
The metrics by which everything will be analyzed are defined
and final assumptions about causes are crystalized.
This is quite an ambitious undertaking.
Alternative solutions are discussed, analyzed and further
process maps and charts are created to help re-design a new,
more efficient process. Benchmarks and best practices are
compared until a final solution is agreed upon by the entire
Without this step, the first three don't
really matter. An implementation plan is created and support
for following through must be gained by all departments involved
and affected by the changes. All involved know that the implementation
will be an ongoing process of evaluation and adjustments.
Once the planning is done, it is implemented
- seems fairly straightforward but this can be a very traumatic
undertaking for those involved. Leadership is essential for
the teams to follow through to completion.
Evaluation is continuous and progressive.
It is never really complete because evaluation and analysis
will reveal concerns and issues that must be handled. Comparisons
against initial benchmark data are monitored and improvements
are made when and where necessary.
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