Many consultants will provide the Standards (what needs to be done) but not the process to be followed. People have their list or toolbox of of standards that they apply in every engagement. At the end a report is provided saying what standards need to be achieved but rarely is a process road map provided that allows the organisation to achieve those goals. Standards without processes to achieve them are not of any use to an organisation already running at high speed in an attempt to keep ahead of the competition. What is even more critical is the fact that the process is never finished. Once the new level of standards are achieved (which takes time) then there needs to be a review process built in to ensure continued improvement over time (Deming Wheel or Shewhart Cycle).

Two other key considerations are to ensure that we are really fixing on-going problems and not just reacting to the inherent system variability. It is very easy to fall into the trap of simply reacting to every little change and trying to fix that. Doing that leads to more instability as we adjust the system back and forth chasing the process that will provide perfect stability while simply adding more wild swings to the result. It is very similar to oversteering when the car is sliding on ice. Minor changes in the steering result in a controlled car moving in a straight line. Major corrections usually result in the ditch!

The other major item to watch is the one time causes of issues or those external to the system that impact it but are rare and or out of our control. Trying to build solutions for these into the system adds unnecessarily to the complication and may never address the next one time error that occurs. These need to be addressed by contingency plans that can be implemented when necessary but are not otherwise used.

Make sure you are concentrating on the critical issues; make sure you have a process for getting to where you want and then see if you have attained the standard you want.