The First Four Methods to Initiate the Process Improvement

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The need of process improvement in the overall organizational development is something that cannot be ignored. Irrespective of the size and expansion of an organization, undergoing process improvement is the best hope for the company in ensuring its overall growth. However, this important aspect is not a solo aspect; rather it encompasses several steps within its scope. Like the steps in any other course of development, process improvement also involves several phases. Unless the objectives of each of these phases are attained and they, in the further run, start complimenting each other, ensuring comprehensive growth of an organization is not possible.

The First Four Methods to Initiate the Process Improvement

Considering the extensiveness of process improvement, it is not possible to describe all the methods in a single go. Consequently, it will also be difficult explaining how these tools are reliant on each other in bringing forth the fulfillment. With the sincere desire to overcome these difficulties, we have decided to reflect on the first phase of process development here and it comprises four methods, namely:

  • Benchmarking
  • Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle
  • Business Process Improvement (BPI)
  • Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)

While each of these methods, in terms of operation, differs from the other, on the other hand it is important to understand that each of those is founded over successful execution of the earlier one.

1)      Benchmarking:

Benchmarking, quite precisely, can be called the procedure of comparing the business process and quality of the performance with the metrics of leaders in the industry and who have also been widely acknowledged for celebrating the best practices. The metrics of comparison are mainly derived from quality, time and cost domains. Generally, the company running a benchmarking process takes the necessary elements into account by measuring them through cost per unit. This is how they develop a metric of their performance and then compare it with the leaders. The ultimate goal of benchmarking is learning how fruitfully the companies in concern are performing and what they must do to achieve success in the same way as their leader counterparts.

2)      Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle:

The Plan-Do-Check-Act or PDCA Cycle is a list comprising the four main crosschecking factors. Every organization, while starts planning growth, must go through these four stages, where they shift from the ‘problem-faced’ situation to solving it. The PDCA Cycle is the brainchild of Walter Shewhart, a highly respected statistician and he, for the first time implemented the cycle while evaluating the statistical process control for the Bell Laboratories in the US during the 1930’s. Thanks to his contribution, this cycle is also referred as `the Shewhart Cycle’. However, implementation and popularization of the cycle became widespread in the United States during the 1950s, thanks to W. Edwards Deming, one of the most renowned scholars in the field of quality management.

The PDCA Cycle is an effective tool for coordinating various factors, involved within the process of continuous improvement. Careful execution of this cycle reflects how important improvement programs are and why they need to be supported with measured planning. Ultimately, the planning, necessary for improvement programs, must take shape of constructive action and then again planning and the cycle continues.

The following diagram provides an overview of all the tools and strategic measures necessary for completing every step of the PDCA cycle:

  Plan

3)      Business Process Improvement (BPI):

The main objective of business process improvement is optimizing the underlying processes involved in quality production in a systematic manner. The methodology was first documented in H. James Harrington’s 1991 book ‘Business Process Improvement’ discussed about this methodology for the first time and involved the essential parts of Process Redesign and Business Process Re-engineering harmoniously. Correct implementation of business process improvement (BPI) is a great way to bring down production cost, production cycle time (by 90%) and enhance overall quality by 60%.

4)      Business Process Re-engineering (BPR):

Business process re-engineering or BPR is a strategic approach for managing businesses and become popular during 1990s. This step focuses mainly on the amazing the business process and workflow design within an organization. Changes that happen through BPR affect an organization at the fundamental level and help the management with rethinking ways in which customer service can be improved, reduce production cost and compete at the global level. Owing to this procedure over 60% of Fortune 500 companies indulged in the process of refurbishing their infrastructure or came up with the necessary proposal to do so.

There are several situations where organizations need to restructure their organization radically. The ultimate goal of a business process is achieving a definite outcome through a series of associated tasks, according to Davenport (1990). BPR introduces the apt avenue for holistic attention for attaining the objectives with the correct analogy for how several other processes are associated with them, direct or indirectly.

  Business Process

Business improvement: The Key to Adapt with the uncertainty

The one thing that is true about global business environment is that it is always in a flux. Something that is true today may not be acceptable in the same way tomorrow. The key to sustain in this uncertain environment is prompt adaptability. These first methods of process improvement actually help with the formation of a strong foundation, consequently making the difficult task of adaptability a simple one for modern business organizations.

Image Credit: 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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