Process Improvement

What Is Process Improvement?

Photo denoting process improvement Graphics display by AZAANOpens in new window

To answer the question, let us first understand what a process is.

A process is a collection of steps, done in a sequence, which adds value to inputs by converting them into outputs desirable to a potential customer.

A processOpens in new window can be as simple as attaching part A to part B, or can be as complex as a process made up of other subprocesses.

Process Improvement is an ongoing effort to improve processes, products, and/or services in order to meet new goals and objectives such as increasing profits and performance, reducing costs, or accelerating schedules.

These efforts can strive for incremental improvement over time or rapid improvement in a very short period and often allow a specific methodology or approach to encourage and ultimately create successful results.

There are several widely used methods of Process Improvement such as Kaizen (Plan-Do-Check-Act)Opens in new window, Lean Six SigmaOpens in new window, and Rummler–BracheOpens in new window.

These methods emphasize employee involvement and teamwork by measuring and organizing processes; reducing variation, defects, and cycle times; and eliminating process waste to better service customers and deliver value faster and more effectively.

Process Improvement provides a framework that will facilitate continuous improvement, process design, and performance measurement activities that ultimately drive the fulfillment of important organizational goals.

Process Improvement can be applied to all industries and is relevant to all areas of an organizationOpens in new window because processesOpens in new window naturally degrade over time for any number of reasons.

In addition, the act of continuously monitoring and improving these processes helps proactively resolve issues in order to avoid operating in a crisis management environment when process degradation occurs.

Process Improvement efforts will almost always result in dramatic, positive returns on investment that affect the organization and its people, practices, and products in a positive way.

The primary objective of Process Improvement is to continually improve process productivity. Since process productivity is measured in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and quality, an effective process is one that produces the right results consistently. Process Improvement enables organizations to:

  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Reduce unnecessary business costs
  • Produce higher-quality products
  • Eliminate wasteful activities
  • Improve employee morale
  • Reduce interdepartmental conflict
  • Improve efficiency and effectiveness of operations
  • Reduce cycle time and variation
  • Break down process silos
  • Design more robust solutions
    Research data for this work have been adapted from the manual:
  1. Tristan Boutros, Tim Purdie. The Process Improvement Handbook: A Blueprint for Managing Change and Increasing Organizational Performance.