Two weeks ago, we discussed how Root Cause analysis of a defect may identify a process issue, the need to fix the process and how that may not be specific to any one project. In particular a process that is common to many projects can cause the same issue to recur in multiple places. The manifestations may be slightly different in each case but the Root Cause is the same.
Assuming that Root Cause is a process problem (and many, many problems that are repeated in multiple projects are process problems) the following steps need to be done:
- Carry out an impact analysis – how many projects/systems/people have been affected by this problem in the past year?
- How many projects/systems/people are going to be impacted by this problem in the coming year?
- Estimate the costs incurred in the past year due to this problem and estiamte the expected costs in the coming year.
We now know how much it has cost and is projected to cost over a two year span. We need to implement a process improvement process and that will cost money. Estimate the costs to change the process and as long as these are less than the projected costs for the next year, we have a positive ROI and can proceed.
- Plan to change the process in a way that we hope will fix the problem. Note the cost of the planning exercise.
- Make the change in the process. Again – note the cost to make the change.
- Measure whether the change has removed the defect or at least reduced its occurrence. Process improvement will not always eliminate a defect entirely, it may reduce the number of times it occurs or reduce its severity.
- If there is no improvement or the situation is worse, plan to back out the change.
- If there is improvement but more could be done, then plan the next improvment and go through the process again.
The above is just PDCA for Process Improvment.
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