Process improvement involves making changes to most effectively and efficiently drive the business strategy.
This ensures that the strategic goals and objectives of an organization are driven down to all levels of the organization. Management must drive consistent direction and clear communications so that every employee pulls in the same direction at the same time. This approach ensures that the corporate objectives (business strategy), management plans (business tactics), and the tasks accomplished by all employees (operational delivery) are in tight alignment.
The goals and sustained measurements with process improvement changes acts a feedback loop on progress. Strategy obviously begins with the creation of the actual plan and is generally created to address several critical long-range goals of the company. Many teams only focus on game-changing, breakthrough objectives that can be achieved in three to five years.
The strategy should not be a laundry list of goals. Rather, it should call out three to five SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals. Every company has a limited number of resources and energy so focus to ensure that the important issues are resolved. Then move on to the other as progress is made. Be realistic and do not overachieve.
Incremental vs. Disruptive
Goals can be incremental and evolutionary, achieved through a series of small but continuous improvements or they can be disruptive, dramatic and revolutionary. It is important to remember that for both types of change, you need to carefully document the steps and the results with thorough documentation.
Secure Broad Input
One of management’s most important jobs is to develop the strategic plan. But leadership teams are more likely to achieve the change they seek if they take the time to get consensus on the strategic plan from middle management and others. This drives Trust into the organization and that drives compliance through ownership and accountability.
Set Goals, Measure Progress
For each objective, there should be Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will allow management to track progress. KPIs can (and should) scale down across the organization so that managers at all level are tracking and reporting on the metrics that tie their location’s improvements to the strategic goals of the organization. The measurement process is critical to achieving true organizational alignment.
Lean Process Improvement
The following are lean process improvement steps to drive efficiency and eliminate waste.
Map business processes
Identify key objectives and expectations
Interview process flows participants
Analyze the business process – perform Gemba Walk – identify process pain points
Identify process resources (human and technology)
Analyze resource allocation and capacity
Outline resource adjustments required
Select process flow improvements
Communicate change and outline process flow recommendations (SMART Plans)
Implement, monitor, and adjust based on results against goals and measurements
Repeat process review and change and make part of organizational DNA