Continuous Process Improvement and its Growing Importance
Continuous Process Improvement—a relatively simplistic concept with a proven track record, serves to be adaptable to almost every kind of business. In other words, this process is exactly what it says – a smart way of introducing improvements continually.
Whether it as about the service or manufacturing industry, the corner-side cafeteria or a giant corporation, a professional working at a day care center or a corporate executive – they all require continuous improvements in their business processes through better task management tools, proper scheduling, excellent management capabilities and more. The one thing that seems to be a common thread in all business operations is that there is tremendous room for improvement, and if handled carefully, all concerned units and individuals can look forward to getting more lucrative returns on their efforts and investments alike.
Continuous Process Improvement in Assembly Lines:
Taking the hypothetical situation of a product assembly line wherein useful improvements were initiated every week on a continuous basis--through easier-to-reach points of assembly to replacement of similar parts and more—it was seen that the observed changes were simple and left limited to noteworthy impacts. However, the steady accumulation of positive improvements laid down the grounds for dramatically improved operations.
Consistency in Process Improvements in the Front Office:
As far as a front office is concerned, continuous improvement processes in this scenario are often related to the elimination of steps connected with entry and order review processes—particularly the ones that lead to a slowing down of the process without the addition of true value. In most cases, many of these extra steps are connected with jobs that are best defined as “office folklore.” These are best eliminated and lead to enhanced front office staff efficiency, along with flinging open the floodgates for further rounds of improvements and investigations. Once the impact of these changes starts becoming evident, they are adopted by the participants and the upper management alike.
Continual Improvement—Aid to Strategic Planning Processes:
As seen above, promising benchmarked quality assurance, the positive effects of continuous and uninterrupted positive changes on all facets of an organization are indeed enormous. With an exhaustive range of techniques that tend to appear quite dissimilar on the surface, these changes often exhibit a common theme.
Regardless of whether they are portrayed through formula-rich analyses during a specific Six Sigma event, the transformations implemented because of a Kaizen blitz, the methodical development of value streams mapping towards the visual identification of non-value-added vs. value-added vs. steps applicable to a particular workflow, reduction of muda (which is a Japanese word used for waste) across the Lean journey , and so forth—these techniques employ statistical, mathematical, or visual analysis for the achievement of required result – improvement.
Losers and Winners:
Companies treating continual improvements as a something nice-to-implement and trendy activity undertaken for filing in the time, often miss the point entirely. Far from being just a modification of regular business processes and modules, continuous improvement happens to be an absolutely different means of operating. Some of the essential factors required at this point by the organization are a high level of confidence, willingness to motivate individuals, fearless and constructive analysis of all processes, and better ways of understanding situations. More often than not; these lead to plenty of successes.
However, there exists an interesting paradox. Deliberate actions have to be taken for achieving the compounding advantages of continuous improvement processes. In some cases, changes have to be forcefully implemented—their simple acceptance, as and when they take place, is just not enough. To create positive impacts, companies have to be aware of the shortcomings that result in limiting their profits and performance.
All in all, this on-going effort for bringing about improvements in products and services can be made through small, incremental tasks that add up in time and bring about major changes in the organization’s culture; and lead to successful continuous improvement programs in future.
Author : Uma Daga