Process Improvement

Ongoing Process Improvement is the second critical aspect of process implementation. Last week we identified the components of a process. Once they are identified and it has been determined if they are applicable then the next step is Process Improvement.

Many organizations identify the need for Process Improvement but they seem to say it as statement sliding the two words together as if it is something that will occur without effort and frequently without results. Philip Crosby’s book “Quality is Free” talks about this and in our last post we mentioned getting the process just right. Getting it just right is not a one step process. At a minimum it is a 4 step process and those steps contain a lot of subsidiary detail.

Initially, as mentioned last week, we have to identify the processes that are in existence. Part of NVP’s Assessment process is to identify the existing processes. This can be done internally although that can be more difficult since people tend to live through the process and cannot see it ‘from the outside’.

Once the processes are identified, then we need to see how they can be improved. This requires thinking ‘outside the box’ and coming with fresh insight to existing processes. A critical piece of this is to determine how the suggested processes can be measured. Without measurement it is impossible to know whether improvement has taken place. Peter Drucker – “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and extended to say “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

The next step then falls into place. We take the recommended improved process and try it out while taking measurements. Once the process has had some time to be tested, the measurements are collated and it is determined if the process has improved.
There are two possible outcomes:

  • Process Improvement has occurred. In which case then we look for further process improvement.
  • Process Improvement has not occurred. In which case we discard the suggested process and look for some other way to obtain process improvement.

Next week we will provide some examples.

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