Process improvement is an essential part of any business, as it helps to ensure that the company remains competitive and efficient. To guarantee success in process improvement projects, there are five key elements that must be taken into account: building relationships with stakeholders, setting up solid ground rules, applying suitable facilitation skills, incorporating improvement methodologies into the project, and using powerful testing procedures in each project. Formal processes are particularly important when they involve employee or customer safety, legal issues, financial considerations, and other delicate criteria or functions. In these cases, it is essential to follow specific steps.
Processes considered formal, also known as procedures, are documented and have well-defined steps. For example, a company may have procedures for receiving and sending invoices or for establishing relationships with new customers. To fully commit to process improvement, companies must accept that the risk of not evolving is much greater than the risk of changing the status quo. Leaders can reinforce the importance of process improvement by encouraging team members to set aside time to do so.
Kaizen focuses on improving quality, productivity and efficiency through small, measured changes in the way the company operates and teams collaborate. Successful team leaders can manage a project, identify the necessary processes and develop work plans, and facilitate meetings and conversations. To maintain the momentum of quality improvement projects, a time-limited work plan with milestones must be established. These process improvement steps can be used to improve any type of business process, from the most strategically important to the most mundane.
Improving business processes involves analyzing the effectiveness of existing processes and developing ways to make them more efficient. To ensure that your company maintains its advantage over the competition, you should always strive for improvement. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) provides a high-level overview of business viability and discovers the areas with the greatest potential for improvement. Since workplaces are constantly evolving and there is always a need for improvement, it is important to take a step back and evaluate those processes from time to time.
Whether your organization formally practices continuous improvement in the Lean sense or not, you can establish a system that allows you to practice process improvement in a coherent, sustainable and effective way. Improving processes is always a good use of time, but without a regular cadence to review the impact of process improvement steps, it's easy to let them fall by the wayside.