When it comes to improving the quality of products and services, process improvement is a must. It is a set of techniques designed to eliminate defects or errors in a given workflow, and can be used to address gaps in product characteristics compared to competition, improve profitability, and even address labor shortages. The key to successful process improvement is to incorporate and prioritize the needs of customers. Gather the information collected with the stakeholders identified as active participants in the process of developing a plan.
When Amazon wanted to accelerate product delivery times, it had to examine existing operations to identify where there were opportunities for improvement, such as the strategic location of warehouses to take advantage of the location of its planes. Organizations need deep commitment from leaders and an internal pool of talent to adapt, identify and align appropriate improvement strategies with their business plans, and develop the right capacities to execute efficiently and achieve the desired results. Once all of these elements have been examined and the course of action has been determined, any previous process mapping can be reviewed to design the new process and use it as a tool for creating training materials. When a company is faced with operational challenges, customer complaints, or simply wants to optimize existing workflows, it's time to implement process improvements.
Before diving into planning for improvement, set a quantifiable objective such as when Amazon wanted to ship its products in one day. This sample process map documents the workflow for obtaining the necessary approvals in an organization. Because modifying a process can cause delays or increase costs in the short term while staff catches up with changes, it's best to test process improvements with a few participants before implementing them across the team or across the organization. Process improvement consists of identifying an area of the organization in which existing business processes lack some capacity.
Several methodologies have been developed over time to address this key concept. Once the problem area is identified, it is a matter of implementing changes that optimize existing processes to meet or exceed the required standards. To ensure that process improvement initiatives are properly budgeted for, it is essential to set a quantifiable objective that must be achieved as part of a process improvement plan. This will help determine what resources are needed and how much money should be allocated for each step of the project.
It is also important to test process improvements with a few participants before rolling them out across an organization or team. This will help minimize delays or increased costs while staff catches up with changes.