The Strongest Strides that Organizations May Take Towards Process Improvement

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Process improvement is an expansive method and comprises no less than eighteen steps all total that respectively are helpful for organizations in improving the entire system. However, all those methods that we have discussed in the earlier blogs cannot be truly complete unless the remaining few are added to the list. These steps can be considered as the strongest strides that manufacturing industry may take towards overall process improvement. In this blog post, we will reflect over the final five and most advanced steps for process improvement.

1.Process Improvement and Management

The basic principle that ‘Process Improvement and Management’ relies upon is that the quality of processing for an organization is the best identifier of the quality of the organization. However, in order to satisfy the goal of process improvement, it is important to understand the key processes, controlling the system of manufacturing. The model that Rummler and Brache (1991) suggested for running Process Improvement and Management project (PI&M) successfully, should contain the following steps:

  1. Identify processes that need improvement. To begin with process improvement and management, it is important to identify the process that requires betterment, at first. This identification can be done both formally and informally. The management team, responsible for finding out the processes that need improvement, should either set up a set of strategic criteria or focus on the obvious performance gap of processes to complete the sorting out process. However, the highest importance should be provided on selecting the correct process or processes that have the m0st important impact in striking out the area of competitive advantage or satisfy customer requirement.
  2. Developing Objectives. After considering the requisites of a process, it is important to determine objectives that a project must satisfy. Generally, the attention is provided on to betterment of quality, increasing productivity, pricing, customer care and product management cycle. However, despite the difference is focus, the goal is always one – keeping the major processes under control.
  3. Citing out cross-functional team members. An important part of process improvement and management is performing cross-functional analysis of members. Based on the results a team should be created and they would be responsible to handle all process-related functions. Despite the fact that in-house employees or consultants are capable of doing the job, with the cross-functional team, quality of process improvement receives a far greater boost.
  4. Creation of Process Flowchart or Organization Map. Preparing process flowchart or an organization map is one of the most reliable ways of documenting status or quality of ongoing process. The flowchart should contain detailed information about organizational standard, level of processing and level of job or performance. Developing a cross-functional process map is most effective to create this flowchart or organization map.
  5. Identify “disconnects”. “Disconnections”, quite simply, are the factors that bar efficiency and effectiveness of a manufacturing process. Identifying these factors are necessary and it should be done at three levels, namely: The Organizational level, the Process level and the Job/Performer level.
  6. Prepare a list of changes in the organizational process. Once the main barriers and difficulties have been identified, it is important to come up with recommendations about possible solutions and alternative methods to reach the solution. Develop a cross-functional process map for the recommended process.
  7. Establish process and sub-process measures. The newly adopted measures should reflect project objectives.
  8. Implementing and executing the improvements in the manufacturing process.

PDCA Cycle The Requisites for Successful Implementation:

  1. Constructive inputs from executive leaders and concerned management, smoothing the path of successful implementation
  2. A clear declaration, explaining the necessity behind this change that the implementation will cause
  3. A clear vision of how much the changes will affect conventional image of the organization
  4. Specialized and comprehensive suggestions should be entertained only
  5. A well considered and well scrutinized plan for strategic implementation
  6. Keeping ready with the necessary resources and time to ensure quality implementation
  7. Letting everyone in the implementation team clearly know about the plans, their roles and responsibilities and how this will benefit the organization is important
  8. Proper coordination between functions and individuals in terms of supporting the proposed changes
  9. Regular supervision to ensure correct management and implementation of the proposed plans

2. Six Sigma

Six Sigma is one of the most effective steps for process improvement and was introduced for the first by Motorola in 1986. However, the popularity of Six Sigma skyrocketed as Jack Welch made it one of the most radical factors in determining his business strategy for Gene00ral Electric in 1995. T0day, Six Sigma is used in different sectors of manufacturing industry with full effectiveness.

The main purpose of Six Sigma is improving the quality of process outputs by tracing out and eliminating the causes of defects (errors) and reducing differences in manufacturing and business processes. Six Sigma deploys a range of quality management parameters that include statistical methods, and develops an exclusive infrastructure of people within the organization, such as, “Champions”, “Black Belts”, “Green Belts”, “Orange Belts”, etc. They will be identified as the experts in handling the complex process improvement methods. As every Six Sigma project is executed within an organization, it follows a series of steps. In this system, each of these steps automatically quantifies financial targets such as, cost reduction and/or increase in revenue earning opportunity.

Getting deeper to the evolution of the term Six Sigma, one may find it associated with manufacturing, more specifically the terms that are associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. Six Sigma can also indicate maturity of a manufacturing process from sigma rating (the percentage of without defect product produced). Ideally, this process is capable of manufacturing products that would be 99.99966% defect free. In another word, there would be less that 4 flawed (3.4 to be specific) items per million units manufactured.

3.Theory of Constraints

The theory of constraints (TOC) is an important process improvement model that treats any manufacturing system is capable of achieving more than the goal but there are certain restricting factors that stop it from achieving the level of success. According to TOC principles, there are always constraints against process improvement, even at least one. TOC attempts to identify the barrier and restructure the organization around the finding, only to improve productivity.

The entire TOC approach embraces an important idiom,” a chain is no stronger than its weakest link”. It regards that manufacturing processes, organizations, etc., can become vulnerable, owing to the actions generated from a weak person or segment of a process. In turn, this weak factor affects the entire process outcome. In order to keep ready with a corrective measure and achieve the goal of process improvement, TOC has laid down several important steps:

  1. Correctly tracing out the limitations of a system that would prevent an organization in excelling with goal achievement within a given period of time
  2. Reflecting over the possibilities in terms of exploiting the constraint (s) and make the best out of it
  3. Ensure that the entire organization will support the decision made to overcome the constraint wholeheartedly
  4. Elevate the system’s constraint(s)
  5. Finally there is a matter of caution in case the constrain has been ruptured in any of the earlier steps. It is necessary that it gets back to the first step but doesn’t develop the inertia to result in another constraint.

Commercial organizations generally focus on the sole goal of: “Make money now and in the future”. The measurement of the goal is specified by throughput accounting in three specific categories, namely, throughput, inventory, and operating expenses. The five TOC strategic measures aim to ensure that the process of improvement doesn’t step and the efforts concerning the improvement are aimed at overcoming the constraints, limiting the progress.

4. Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) cater the idea that product quality and process largely depends on the commitment of everyone, involved in the process. People who are involved in the process doesn’t only include producers but also the involvement of customers. Total quality Management takes into its operational scope the contribution of everyone, starting with management, workforce, suppliers and customers. The ultimate goal of the management process is matching or excelling customers’ expectations.

The Primary Elements of TQM

  • Customer-focused. Customer is the ultimate judge of the standard of quality.
  • Complete employee involvement. All employees should participate in a common objective and strive to achieve the same.
  • Process-centered. One of the essential aspects about TQM is the focus on process thinking.
  • Integrated system. TQM keeps a close watch on the horizontal processes that interconnect organizational functions, despite random difference in their functional specialties.
  • Strategic and systematic approach. One of the critical responsibilities that TQM attempts to achieve is attaining vision, mission and goal of an organization with a strict focus on the strategic and systematic approach.
  • Continual improvement. TQM provides special emphasis on process improvement constantly.
  • Fact-based decision making. In order to know the performance level of an organization, keeping a track on the performance measure is necessary.
  • Communications. In time of organizational change and conducting regular operation successfully, constructive communication has important role to play in vitalizing moral and motivation of employees.

8Keys 5. Trillium Model

The Trillium Model, propounded by Bell Canada, is a combination of the brilliance from ISO 9000 series, the CMM for Software, and the Malcolm Baldrige criteria, with software quality standards from the IEEE. The principle foundation of Trillium is telecommunications orientation and caters a great deal of attention to customer focus. One of the special features of the Trillium Model is its comprehensive focus span starting from software development life-cycle, most system and product development and support activities, to the most influencing marketing efforts. The practices that the Trillium Model celebrates and promotes can also be deployed directly for hardware development.

The benefits of Trillium Model:

  • The developing trends that the organization would adopt, would be extremely beneficent when it comes to directly addressing customer and market demands
  • The life-cycle cost of the product(s) is lessened
  • End-user satisfaction is optimized

For the Development organization, achieving a higher capability can result in:

  • Rate of development may slow down along with the cost of maintenance
  • Shorter life cycle time along with more intervals into the process of development
  • Better grip on project risk analysis and estimating of the effort, leading to customer satisfaction and commitment from employees
  • Attaining measurable design along with high-quality objectives in all stages of development

Process development sometimes requires strong measure and closely weaved strategic approaches. Organizations that are looking forward to comprehensive development must adhere with any of the above mentioned process. One of the most striking factors about the steps discussed is that they are very much contemporary and widely followed by modern organizations in terms of process improvement. Carefully consider each of the models mentioned above before implementing.

Image Credits: Wikimedia.Org

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Monika Ardianto

Quality Management Consultant and Auditor at Monika Nonce Ardianto
Monika Ardianto is a Certified Quality/Operational Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience in improving quality management systems of large businesses. She is an award winning author of "Winning the Audit".

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