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If you've got 99 problems and the process is one...

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution." - Albert Einstein

As one of the greatest minds in the world said, the best way to solve something is to define the problem as clearly as you can. So, if all you can think of is the issues that your business has but no solutions come to mind, then you are in a perfect place to turn to process improvement.

Growing and expanding your business can have many challenges but with the right planning, you will achieve great results. It is a matter of :

  1. Understanding what plans you need to implement ; and

  2. Figuring out how you can put these plans in place.

This is where process improvement comes into play. In this article, we will learn more about what process improvement is and how it can help your business.

What is process improvement?

It is a practise that focuses on optimizing business processes. The main goal is to enhance the customer experience while also meeting or, even surpassing, the market standards.

With process improvement, you work on identifying, examining and improving existing business processes. The aim is to:

  • reduce the amount of errors;

  • boost productivity;

  • lower the amount of waste;

  • improve the existing process;

  • refine business processes that are either obsolete or outdated; and

  • reduce the amount of time spent on a project. Since we know 'time is money', it is easy to see how this can benefit your business.

In short, process improvement offers a look at what is wrong with the business and what can be improved.

What kind of business needs process improvement?

Any business can benefit from process improvement because it achieves the one goal all business strive for: growth without wasting time and resources.

What are the most common process improvement methodologies?

There are different methodologies you can use for process improvement, each one with its fair share of benefits.

  • The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle - a very common approach. It starts with a plan, then you implement the change, check the results and act accordingly at the end. PDCA is more focused on continual improvement, which makes it very similar to Agile and Lean.

  • Total Quality Management (TQM) involves the entire company in the process improvement journey. It is very focused on customer satisfaction and principles like continual development, decisions being made according to facts, employee engagement and committing to adequate leadership.

  • Kaizen -a Japanese term which means “good change”, “change for the better”, or “improvement.” . It was initially introduced to the world by the world-famous car manufacturer Toyota. Kaizen focusses on improving by making small and gradual adjustments to existing processes. This is the most famous method followed by many other global businesses across different industries such as Ford Motors, Nestlé, Mayo Clinic and Lockheed Martin.

These are only a few of many process improvement methodologies like 5S, Six Sigma, Cause and Effect Analysis, Value Stream Mapping and among others. Each methodology has been heavily studied and can be implemented with adequate success. It takes a bit of a trial and error to narrow down the ideal strategy but at the end of the day, it can provide extraordinary success.

What steps are involved in process improvement?

1. First, you need to map the process and ensure that everything is fully understood such as how the current process works and the goals you want to achieve.

2. Once that is done, you analyze the process so you can see where issues appear and how you can fix them.

3. Redesign the process accordingly to eliminate all the problems that were identified previously. Usually, this is a team effort, and it involves a lot of brainstorming and communication.

4. After that, it all comes down to assigning resources and seeing who will address what issue. Having Process Maps and Standard Operating Procedures would be ideal.

5. Developing an implementation plan is crucial at this time. Ensure that every step is heavily detailed so everyone knows the plan and how it needs to be implemented. This step involves a lot of communication and working closely with every team to execute the plan.

7. Lastly, once everything is fully implemented, monitor and optimize the way it all works.

The important thing to note is that based on what process improvement methodology you want to use, things can change a little bit. However, this is a great process improvement framework that will help lead your business to growth and success.

Over to you...

As you can see, process improvement is vital for any business that wants to revamp, grow and expand its reach. It can help boost productivity which can then enhance the customer experience leading to more growth. This is why it is a great idea to give process improvement a try, regardless of the industry you are in.

If you would like to see whether process improvement could work for you, please contact us to have a chat.

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