Whether you are a project manager at a large project or a team member in a small organization, you may be in need of changes for process improvement. You can make some small or big adjustments in favor of more effectively reaching your project objectives. In fact, it is difficult to adopt changes for people but, there are some ways to make it as simple as adding a new tool to your project management toolbox. In this article, we will talk about process improvement methods and techniques and share tips to guide team members to ensure constant improvement in their business processes.
What is Process Improvement?
Before to share tips, let’s focus on process improvement. Project managers, team members, and stakeholders often look for ways to optimize performance, meet standards, improve quality and lower costs.
Although process improvement may have different names such as business process re-engineering or continual improvement process, they refer to the same purpose. The main purpose is to minimize errors, reduce waste, improve productivity.
What are Process Improvement Methods and Techniques?
There are various techniques designed to help your organization to improve productivity in processes. Those techniques and methodologies help to identify defects and causes of failures. But not all the methodologies suit all the needs. Some of them focus on reducing wastes while others focus on taking the company culture one step further. There are also methodologies for process mapping.
- Kaizen Methodology
- 5s Methodology
- PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
- Six Sigma Methodology
- Lean Methodology
- Cause and Effect Analysis
- SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) Analysis
- VSM (Value Stream Mapping)
- TQM (Total Quality Management)
- Kanban Methodology
- Process Mapping
Process Improvement Tips for Project Managers
Regardless of what type of methodology you are using, here below are some tips that make process improvement easier.
Tip # 1: Empathy Promotes High Commitment and Cooperation
Changes are inevitable in the processes. Changes often impact team member’s workflow. Empathy is one of the most important values that promotes teamwork while trying to incorporate a new process.
Before to adopt changes, try to understand the feelings of others who will be affected. Be sure to gather multiple approaches to decide any update. You can gather people together to talk about the positive and negative effects of the change to ensure more effective adoption.
Tip # 2: Think Strategically
While making a project plan, we set a time frame for each deliverable. Because there is a time and a place for everything in project management. The same goes for process improvement. Think strategically and plan for the key variables which are time, cost and conditions before to initiate a change. If all the plans are in place, don’t be afraid to move forward because you are on the right way!
On the other hand, poor planning, inadequate preparation, and wrong estimates often cause failure while adopting changes.
Tip # 3: Make Realistic Assumptions
Making realistic assumptions is key to successful process improvement. But, how do you know if your assumptions are correct? Encourage your team members to ask questions and raise concerns regarding the changes. Getting their feedback will be invaluable to decide optimizations for change.
Note that, even the best plans may fail during the implementation. Be realistic and analyze the process correctly to make adjustments when needed. Making realistic assumptions will help you to keep your feet on the ground. Bear in mind that process improvement should improve efficiency – not make things difficult.
Tip # 4: Dedicate Yourself
Believe in your process change yourself before to decide to adopt. Think of the change from different perspectives and ask yourself why the process improvement is necessary. Then, encourage team members to ask questions and make comments regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed change. Ask team members if they have any concerns. This will promote collaboration during the implementation of change.
Tip # 5: Be Patient and Positive
Be patient and don’t wait for everything to happen at once. Because changes and process improvements will not happen overnight. If the process takes longer than planned, don’t be too discouraged and keep doing adjustments. Because you will reap the fruits over time. Use metrics to analyze your plans and measure the performance to understand if they are effective or not.
Basically, process improvement focuses on the alignment and performance of a particular process with the organizational strategy. Below are some steps to be followed for this purpose.
- Understand the Process to be Improved
- Find Out the Improvements
- Implement the Improvements
- Monitor and Control the Effects of Improvements
In this article, we discussed process improvement methods and techniques. Simply put, the goal of business process management is to improve the efficiency of all tasks throughout the production chain. If all the processes are efficient, the company will achieve more profit. Various methodologies such as Kaizen, Kanban, 5s and Six Sigma are applicable to process improvement studies. Regardless of what methodology you are using, involving people to decision making is key to gather different approaches regarding changes. In other words, getting everyone on board is key to the success of process improvement.
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