continuous improvement

How to plan a Process Improvement Project

When planning a process improvement project the most important question you have to ask is, “What problem are we trying to solve?” This question relates directly to the first step in DMAIC ( a Lean Six Sigma problem solving tool), which is to define the problem. After you answer this question you are ready to outline the criteria for an effective process improvement plan. Projects are usually one time occurrences created to fulfill specific goals for the organization.

Essentially, Lean Six Sigma projects must have the following 3 critical characteristics to be effective: performance, cost and time.  The performance criteria allows us to understand what the project seeks to accomplish. Project expectations and goals should be written clearly, be realistic, made available to all project team members, and team members should also be held accountable for achieving them.

The second criteria, cost, provides insights into the resources needed to complete a project. Usually, money belts which are financial auditors provide an objective independent evaluation of the potential financial benefits of a project as well as the actual results achieved by the Lean Six Sigma project.

Finally, the third criteria, time, assures that team members are aware of the time-frame for the starting and ending of the project. Gantt Charts are excellent tools for monitoring all the activities associated with a project coupled with checkpoints which are smaller points throughout a project that are used to judge how far the project is toward completion.

It is imperative that all team members in a process improvement project understand the top 3 inter-related objectives of the project which are meeting the budget, finishing on schedule and meeting the performance specifications.

 

When to Automate a Process

Many Managers and leaders ask this question, “When do I know its time to automate a Process?” The simplest answer is that automation of a process is critical when the well-being of your employees is being impaired, too much time is spent on manual input and putting out fires; and less time is dedicated to strategic planning and achieving strategic goals.

Leaders must constantly measure process performance as this includes, process cycle time, lead times, and process costs coupled with benchmark comparisons to truly understand how they fare with their competitors. For example, say you wanted to automate your Accounts Payable function. You would first create a process map to identify inefficiencies in the process, test and implement new controls, track and analyze Key Measures of Performance (cost per invoice, process cost, process cycle time, days to resolve a problem, et cetera) and compare data to your competitors. If you realize that the cost per invoice and process cycle time is significantly higher than your competitors it is wise to consider automation software.

However, before integrating software to automate the process you must compare the total costs and see if new and tested controls or alternative low cost methods can reduce costs and cycle time without the integration.

A process in dire need of automation can be detected by increase in poor quality, delivery and productivity. A process can not run smoothly if any of these process efficiency characteristics (quality, delivery and productivity) is not meeting business and customer requirements.

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: Quality Improvements

Happy Friday! I hope you had a fabulous week!

Today, I was thinking about quality. As you have learned, Quality is what the customer says it is, not what you think it is. When does quality begin and how do you ensure your efforts bear fruit in a quality improvement engagement?

“Quality begins with education as it enhances your ability to see the big picture and supports deeper understanding of the activities that must take place in order for any quality improvement engagement to be successful.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this short tip and as always, “Success is continuous Improvement.”

 

Notable Friday Chat: Care about your employees!

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a productive and enriching week. Today I want to leave you with a short message that will have a significant impact on your talent management goals and overall company wide health. I hope you have a great weekend and remember, “Success is continuous improvement!”

 

“Taking the time to talk to and ask atleast one employee each day how they are doing and somehow guide them in solving a professional or personal problem will in turn, help you build a stronger relationship with your employees but also support your talent management goals.