What is process
Process improvement is that part of
process management which drives
beneficial change in process performance. In the diagram to the right,
process improvement drives changes in results, processes and the goals and
Improvement in results can be
accomplished in many ways. One way is by improving the ways by which the
results are being measured - achieving greater accuracy and precision.
Another way is to push more through the process - increase throughput.
Therefore more customers generate more orders that generates more revenue.
Failure to achieve the target might be simply not making enough product,
not serving enough customers. But the most common way is to get the
process to do what it was designed to do. Results can often be improved by
running the process with the planned resources and executing the tasks as
planned. Failures are more often the result of people not running the
process as planned - they take short cuts, make mistakes, don't take
action when necessary. They are also the result of not providing the
necessary resources - the people, plant, machinery. Failures often result
from poorly maintained plant and equipment - clearly indicating that the
resource management process fails to provide the desired results.
Improvement in the process is about
finding better ways of doing things ie doing thing right. Achieving the
same results but with less resources in less time. For efficiencies to be
found, one has to examine the sequence and interaction of tasks within a
process particularly the number of interfaces. Processes can be made more
efficiency by reducing the number of transactions, the number of different
people involved. Automation may improve efficiency but may also introduce
a level of complexity that is prone to failure.
Even when the process delivers results
that meet targets and is run lean, there is still room for improvement -
perhaps one of the most important types of improvement. If the process
goals are not the right goals, no matter how well the process performs, it
is ineffective - ie it is not delivering the right things. When the
supermarket was dealing with a few suppliers, it was not concerned about
whether the products were packed on the pallet the same way. But now they
have automated their receiving process, the goal has changed. The
need product packed on pallets so that the identity is visible when the
good are stacked in the warehouse. In a similar way, the
measure of on-time-delivery might be product ready to ship by due date but
on examination it transpires that the customer requires product on site by
the due date.
Testing whether the right goals are
being aimed for requires constant vigilance, asking not whether we are
doing things right but whether we are doing the right things to satisfy
our stakeholders - because their needs keep changing.
If you would like to know more about our Process
Improvement Service Contact us to discuss your requirements
or simply purchase our e-book A Guide to Business