Process improvement is the desire to design a new or improved methodology to make the customer happier by ensuring you, the company, is able to continue delivering the same product/service in a more efficient and/or effective manner. During this process you may also create an improved or new product. A car is an improvement of the process of transportation (increased speed over horse carriages), the internet an improvement of the way people access information (more people can access more information now), and the cell phone an improvement of the way people connect (the range of the phone increased from the cord to many places on the planet). The intended goal (desire) is efficiency in the building of the product and/or effectiveness of the product. Using the car as an example, the goal is to build a car with the least parts necessary and minimum time required (efficiency) and/or that performs as expected with minimal or no recalls so that it meets and hopefully exceeds the customer’s needs (effectiveness).

When you determine a need for an improved process also consider what you’re looking for a new or improved process-improvementproduct, efficiency in building product, or effectiveness of product. As stated above efficiency means less time, inventory, and/or cost to build and effectiveness means less complaints/recalls. If your goal is to build a new or improved product/service then process improvement can still be the appropriate path as the higher quality and/or easier to produce product/service can be marketed as a new product/service.

Once you determine what you’re looking for the proper metrics will keep you on track. Ineffective metrics will prevent the company from determining whether their goal is being met. Improved quality of a product (six sigma) will require a metric of testing the improved quality such as cutting through metal to test its properties. Fewer resources used to build a product (Iean thinking) will require metric of determining resources used such as time for build each component or the finished product.

After establishing a need for change and what that change is a company should determine how they will get everyone on board for the change which is change management.

Author

James Webb

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