What is the Best Methodology for Continuous Process Improvement?

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Is your business experiencing rapid growth? This isn’t a bad problem to have but do you have the processes in place to manage this growth to ensure the quality of your product or service isn’t compromised? If not, you need to read below.

If you want to support the growth of your business and ensure that you remain ahead of the competition, then you cannot afford to simply keep doing things “the way they have always been done”.

It is rare that a process is perfected. There are usually options for growth, cost savings, and quality improvements.

Continuous process improvement methodologies arm people with a way to find those improvement options so that their businesses are always operating at their best.

Choosing a Continuous Process Improvement Methodology

There are many process improvement methodologies, and they all have their own benefits and useful characteristics. Some of the most well-known are Lean, Six Sigma and TQM. Indeed, there is even some cross-over between them.

For example, some people like the data-driven approach of Six Sigma, but follow a Lean approach to implementing what they have learned from the Six Sigma analysis.

Let’s take a look at some of the approaches and their respective benefits.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma was developed by a team at Motorola, and then was adopted by GE. It was the use at GE which made Six Sigma mainstream, and now it is widely used in manufacturing and for other business improvement processes.

Six Sigma is a useful method for helping companies to measure defects and inconsistencies and is also useful for helping companies to improve their products, services, and training. Six Sigma relies on a simple path:

  • Define the goal of the project
  • Measure how well your existing process performs
  • Analyse the process to find opportunities for improvement
  • Improve the process to address the root causes of any issues
  • Control the process and correct any deviations before they cause problems

If you are coming up with a new process instead of improving an old one, then Improve and Control can be replaced with Design and Verify.

Six Sigma is heavily reliant on data and statistics, which sets it apart from other methodologies.

Some people can feel slightly bogged-down with the analysis-heavy methods of six sigma, and that’s where other methodologies can come in useful.

Continuous Process Improvement in 2019

Lean

Lean manufacturing is a process improvement method which focuses primarily on eliminating waste. Some organisations use Lean and Six Sigma at the same time.

Please note that waste does not just mean wasted materials during the normal production process. Time, and items that are defective and rejected in quality control also count as waste.

This means that the emphasis in Lean is on quality in every respect.

Waste, in Lean methodologies, can be anything from excess inventory to the transportation of products, delays, overprocessing, defects, the underutilisation of skilled employees, overproduction, and ‘makework’ for employees.

Process engineers identify the areas where resources are being wasted and look for ways to improve that.

Total Quality Management 

TQM is a much older quality management method which was used in the 1980s, and even before then. The US Federal Government adopted it in the 80s and made it famous.

TQM is focused on customer satisfaction. The key principles of TQM are simple:

  • Organisations should focus on taking a strategic approach to achieve their goals
  • The customer determines the level of quality
  • Employees should be working towards a common goal
  • Organisations need to define the steps required for a process, and continuously monitor it to detect deviations
  • There are some established standards that can be used to measure TQM. The ISO 9000 standard is a good example. Some companies develop their own standards, based on the key metrics within their own organisation.

TQM uses the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle to support continuous process improvement. This process can be applied to almost any business, from construction to the service industry.

TQM is a long-established continuous process improvement methodology and while it may not be glamorous or trendy it still works.

Continuous Process Improvement in 2019

Choosing the Best Methodology For Your Business

If you are well versed in a specific methodology it makes sense for you to use it.

If, however, BPR, TQM, Lean, etc., are all just letters and buzzwords to you then it makes sense to seek expert advice and get an evaluation of your business and the best options for you. There is no one best system.

Most systems will get the job done if applied with a dose of common sense. Some systems are easier to integrate with a specific type of business, however, and that’s what process improvement consultants can help with.

The difference in approach between the continuous improvement methodologies is something that may help you make the decision.

Six Sigma’s Statistical Process Control is vastly different from the methods that TQM uses to measure conformance to a company’s internal requirements.

Both methods should offer improvements in efficiency and compliance, but Six Sigma is a precise data-driven system, while TQM supports more flexibility and fluidity, and can be used to improve individual operations within separate parts of a business with more freedom.

There are many who would argue that Six Sigma is the future since it scales well and has a lot to offer to modern businesses. Lean can integrate well with Six Sigma, and there are options for taking a more creative approach as well.

This means that whatever type of business you are running, there are ways that you can use statistics and data in your process improvement. Whatever approach you choose, communication is key.

Your employees need to understand the motivations behind your process improvement plans otherwise there may be push-back when it comes to implementing any changes that your chosen process flags up.

Continuous Process Improvement in 2019

This is another area where having consultants can help you since they can canvas for feedback and work with you to get support for your proposed changes at each stage. 

Process improvement is not always easy. There can be resistance to change because “that is how things were always done”.

However, with clear communication, good documentation and a systematic approach to updating your models, you can get the support you need to improve your business from within.

Is your business lacking a continuous improvement framework and constantly adding extra costs into your business without showing any real customer benefit?

Then you need to speak to us at High Velocity Business Improvement Coaching.

We coach your business to understand your problems, the size of the problems and how to solve the true root cause of the problems.

This means you can fix minor issues before they become major problems and deliver a better overall customer experience for your customers.

Please contact us today to book a free consultation or for more information.

 

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