Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a system for finding opportunities for restructuring work and reducing waste. While various companies practice a formal version of a Lean method, other companies enjoy the flexibility of continuous improvement as a practice. Continuous improvement can be seen as a formal practice or an informal set of guidelines. Many companies have changed focus to more formal approaches such as Lean methodologies (Kanban, Kaizen). These methodologies recommend ways to find savings opportunities and put those savings mechanisms into practice. In all Lean methodologies, continuous improvement is a main focus, in addition to high customer service and the decrease of waste in the forms of time, cost, and defects (rework). Continuous improvement helps to streamline workflows. Well-organized workflows save time and money, permitting you to reduce wasted time and effort. For instance, projects that involve shifting deadlines, altering priorities and other difficulties are usually packed with opportunities to improve. It’s significant for a project manager to know the cost of finishing a body of work. For this reason, most project management offices advantage from knowing the sum of time it takes to get certain kinds of work done. Project managers can decrease project cost and avoid extras using Forecasting. Forecasting whether a project’s limitations are likely to be destroyed is one way in which project management able to raise their overall effectiveness for the company.

When to Use Continuous Improvement?
Losing quality can rarely be justified by the ability to do something sooner or inexpensive. To keep quality standards while cutting time and cost, companies try to continuous improvement. By seeing continuous improvement best practices, companies can understand ways to endure business as usual while analysing improvement opportunities. For companies whose teams are incapable to practice continuous improvement throughout their everyday work, the next best method to influence the concept is to hold continuous improvement events. Continuous Improvement events can take somewhere between one to five days to complete, subject on the depth and breadth of the topic to be covered, and team members typically come with “to-do” items that aid the new processes take hold within the organization and may need a small amount of time to implement. Many companies have accepted Continuous Improvement / Lean as a regular by which all projects and work is done. While continuous improvement aids save money for companies by helping to find inefficiencies, other companies may recognise continuous improvement contrarily. After years of continuous improvement being publicized as the most helpful way to save on production cost, some companies say the attitude has placed unanticipated constraints on innovation and creativity. While companies pursue ways to reduce waste, sometimes disordered creative process and ideation may hold more value in the long run than saving on a particular process. It is difficult to put a price on innovation, therefore a company’s decision as to how much time to dedicate to continuous improvement can be difficult.

How to Practice Continuous Improvement
Performing continuous improvement begins with finding a current process, procedure, and workflow. Completely understanding what you need to work with is the first stage in improvement. This may look obvious, but many companies that miss this stage spend lots of time trying to repair a process only to determine that the process in question isn’t required, or the process is so poorly integrated.
Questions to enquire when considering a process for improvement:

  • How many people does this particular process disturb?
  • How much time do people employ working inside the constraints of the current process?
  • What would we advantage if we spent time working to advance this process?
  • What other teams / processes would be obstructed by changes to the current process, and how? Would those influences serve as weaknesses? Is the amount of effort justified by the expected value of establishing a new process?

Before determining what is to be done, companies may take a poll on which process or workflow they feel would most profit from improvement. Once a topic is decided, the team may come together to brainstorm. At this stage, many teams follow a sequence of steps that go somewhat like this: Chart out the existing process by means of a project board or a kanban board. It can be a whiteboard with sticky notes. Each sticky note should denote a single piece of the process. Teams must list each process stage as much as possible so that each stage is clearly identified. Placing out sticky notes in a linear fashion is a good way for everybody to visualize. Using a visual board also aids people understand a process, even if they are not involved in it. Categorize areas of opportunity surrounding the charted process. To do this, teams should analyse the current process and examine areas that may be streamlined. For instance, are there ways to reduce the time like getting approval? Are there unnecessary steps that are creating bottlenecks? A classic example of process streamlining is that reduction of steps a worker must take to carry a widget from one place to another. Instead of demanding the worker to move faster, the company moves the bin holding the widgets.

Finally, the team adopts on a new process. Once all opportunities have been recognised, the team works together to create a new process. It should be communicated to everyone who is impacted. For instance, if the new process impacts another process, the impacted process to make the modifications that is essential to accommodate the new process. Continuous improvement is a good way for companies to identify opportunities and integrate improvements into the everyday workings of the company. Once continuous improvement has become nature within the organizational culture, your team will start to find opportunities in the utmost unexpected places, building an environment that develops innovation and raises a sense of ownership and pride among people.