Organizations today are highly data-driven and automation-oriented. The primary reason is that these activities allow for streamlining countless internal processes and achieving higher efficiencies.
Forrester begs to differ. According to one of its reports, about 73% of the data in an enterprise remains unutilized by its analysts. Data and insights are central to process improvement; inefficient processes that aren't backed by data can be crippling for the organization.
Hard to believe, right?
Multiple other aspects of improving organizational processes remain either ignored or underutilized. Without monitoring and documenting every business process with careful detail, it is impossible to identify bottlenecks and mobilize solutions in time. Losses will occur.
It is for this purpose that the method of continuous process improvement exists. Let’s understand what continuous process improvement is, how you can implement it, its strategies and best practices, and its benefits for the business.
Continuous process improvement, or CPI, is the constant monitoring of a process with a view to making gradual, periodic improvements to achieve higher efficiencies. It helps your organization achieve better quality outcomes and reduce the turnaround times of the process cycle.
It may sound similar to business process reengineering; however, they are entirely different concepts. While process reengineering deals with scrapping a process altogether to redesign it, CPI involves working with an existing process and changing it incrementally over time to achieve more favorable results.
Continuous process improvement is easy to set up with custom-designed software created using convenient no-code platforms, like Hubler.
The main goal of continuous process improvement is to identify the problematic aspects of a process and make changes to them to improve overall efficiency. Additionally, continuous process improvement also gives your business the following benefits:
Continuous process improvement is, as its name suggests, a continuous activity. It is a loop of monitoring, comparing, identifying, changing, launching, and monitoring again. It can be broadly divided into 4 major steps:
Let’s break it down into details.
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It is essential to take a step back and take a closer look at the process you are trying to improve.
Study the prescribed procedure for executing the tasks and activities listed. Check if the process is experiencing any bottlenecks in the flow or delays on the part of any stakeholders involved.
Study each step your process goes through in detail by creating a process map that displays all the stops your process takes. This will help reveal the areas where inefficiencies lie.
Once the problems and bottlenecks have been identified, you need to plan the improvements you will make to increase process efficiency.
If the suggested changes you come up with aren’t significant, you can tweak the existing, ongoing workflows and continue monitoring the process performance.
However, if the changes are significant, you would first need to plan an alternative protocol to adopt while you take the problematic process offline and make changes to it.
The planning stage involves planning for the prototype process, as well as the methodology to scale it to the entire enterprise if it is successful.
The execution phase can be carried out in two ways:
If your changes to the process are small, you can execute them immediately in the existing workflows without disrupting the entire process or the flow. You can continue monitoring while the changes take effect.
To execute the larger changes (for example, automating data entry), it is sensible to first design a prototype and test the improvement in a controlled process environment with limited stakeholders. If the process performs well here, you can launch it into the enterprise.
The execution phase also involves monitoring how well your process is performing against desired KPIs and benchmarks that you have set for it.
Reviewing is the most important aspect of continuous process improvement. This step lets you see how your process is performing with the incremental improvements you have made.
You need to monitor whether these incremental changes are leading the process in the direction that you planned for the process.
If not, you need to realign your process with further changes (probably major ones). If your process is behaving as desired by not yet achieving the benchmark figures you had hoped for, there is scope for further incremental changes you can make in the next iteration.
There are 6 kinds of continuous process improvement strategies you can employ to improve the overall efficiency of your business. Each of these strategies draws from different methodologies and philosophies.
Depending on the work methods of your department and teams, you can pick any one of the following or mix and match a few to suit your requirement.
The PDCA Cycle is highly relevant in the world of contemporary business methodologies, as it is based on lean procedures. It focuses on reducing efforts, resources, time, and energy involved in a process to a minimum while also focusing on reducing waste.
It follows 4 distinct steps:
The DMAIC method is another highly relevant practice for modern businesses. It employs philosophies based on the Six Sigma methodologies of tackling business tasks.
The steps involved in the DMAIC method are:
This concept has its roots in the Theory of Constraints. It begins by identifying the weakest point in a process and improving it until it isn’t a problem anymore. The five steps involved are:
This method is a business process improvement technique. It consists of the following steps:
The 5S philosophy also draws from lean business methodologies and focuses on the right organization of workflows to derive maximum efficiency.
Kaizen is rooted in Japanese methods and encourages the involvement of employees in improving a process. The steps involved are as follows:
Business process management is a broader term that deals with a long-term effort to improve business processes.
On the other hand, continuous process improvement is an ongoing methodology that utilizes business process management techniques for process improvement.
While CPI addresses the processes for what they are, BPM software is focused more on improving the flow of the processes and workflows.
Each business has its own requirements for software solutions. The processes are unique, the workflows singular to each process. Things being so, it makes sense to create your own solutions from scratch, using no-code platforms like Hubler.
No-code allows you to design your own CPI and BPM solutions without knowing how to code. You can create custom solutions that respond to your specific needs with Hubler.