Process Improvement

by Rus Slater

Common questions

  1. How often should I review my and my team’s processes?
  2. Should I put steps into a process to catch the ‘workarounds’ that people do?
  3. Who do I involve in mapping and improving a process?
  4. Processes have evolved because ‘that is the way it has always been done’; how can this be challenged as part of a process improvement initiative?
  5. How can I test the new process before committing to it?

 

1. How often should I review my and my team’s processes?

You should consider reviewing a process whenever there is a problem with the Voice of the process or the Voice of the people or the Voice of the customer. You should also review your process whenever there is a major change of location, supplier, customer, or staff.

Finally, it is a good discipline to review your processes on a regular (though not necessarily frequent) basis – say, once a year. (It is also an excellent skill for staff to learn as well as making people feel that their opinion is valued.)

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2. Should I put steps into a process to catch the ‘workarounds’ that people do?

Generally, you should only put in a monitoring check when you have new, inexperienced staff or a new process. Once you know that people are familiar with the process, you should remove these ‘checks’ or they will become your non-value-added bottlenecks of next year.

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3. Who do I involve in mapping and improving a process?

Get the people who actually ‘do’ the process to map it and improve it. Keep the same team for both jobs and never use consultants to improve the process!

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4. Processes have evolved because ‘that is the way it has always been done’; how can this be challenged as part of a process improvement initiative?

Processes have often evolved on the basis of assumptions that may no longer be valid or historical circumstances that no longer apply. It is recommended that challenges such as this are used as part of the ‘value analysis’.

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5. How can I test the new process before committing to it?

The only way to really test a process is to trial it... you can walk it through first and plan it in theory, but only in the real world can you ‘test’ it.

You can always use your trial as the basis for some publicity to show your commitment to continuous improvement!

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