How to Implement Process Improvement in Your Business

Learn the basics of process improvement and how to apply it to your business.

managers discussing points for process improvement

Published 21 Jul 2022

What is Process Improvement?

Process improvement can be defined as the implementation of best practices within an organization in order to achieve improved efficiency, quality, and effectiveness. A variety of methods can be used to achieve process improvement, and the best approach will often depend on the specific industry and type of process.

In a nutshell, it’s the act of making changes to your business processes to make them more efficient and effective. This could involve streamlining your workflow, making changes to your procedures, or even just tweaking your system to make it work better for you.

Process improvement is used in various industries, but it is essential in manufacturing and other industries that rely on repetitive processes.

What is the Purpose of Process Improvement?

The goal of process improvement is to make it easier for your team to get their work done while also ensuring that they are meeting your customers’ needs.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to implement process improvement in your business. Maybe you’re experiencing high levels of customer dissatisfaction, or your team is struggling to keep up with the demands of your growing business. Perhaps you’ve identified some inefficiencies in your current processes, and you’re looking for a way to fix them.

No matter what the reason is, process improvement can be a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes. With the right tools and techniques, you can make your team more productive and your customers satisfied.

Identifying Opportunities for Improving Processes

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of process improvement, it’s time to start identifying opportunities for improvement in your business. Here are four steps to get you started:

  1. Look at your business from a customer’s perspective. What are the biggest pain points they experience when interacting with your company?
  2. Look at it from a technical standpoint. Are there any areas where you could be making things more efficient or effective?
  3. Gather feedback from your team members. What are their thoughts on the current state of affairs? Do they have any suggestions for improvement?
  4. Review your financial data. Are there any areas where you could be saving expenses or generating more profit?

Steps of the Process Improvement Cycle

Process improvement is the continuous effort to make changes and improvements to your business operations. It’s a systemized approach to making changes in a way that minimizes disruption and ensures that the changes are actually beneficial.

There are four steps in the process improvement cycle:

  1. Plan – You’ll identify what you want to change and come up with a plan for how to make the change.
  2. Do – In the do stage, you’ll put the plan into action.
  3. Check – In this stage, you’ll measure whether the change was effective and whether it met your original goals.
  4. Act – Lastly, the active stage is deciding whether to retain or make more changes.

Examples of Process Improvement Opportunities

Now that we know what process improvement is and how to go about implementing it in our business, it’s time to take a look at some specific examples. Here are a few process improvement opportunities to get you started:

  1. Process mapping – creating maps of your current processes and identifying areas for improvement
  2. Process redesign – redesigning your processes to make them more efficient and effective
  3. Process automation – automating manual tasks or processes to save time and money
  4. Quality audits – checking the quality of your processes and products against specific standards or criteria
  5. Training and development – training your staff on new processes or developing them in specific areas of expertise
  6. Process improvement teams – setting up teams to work on specific process improvement projects

Process Improvement Tools and Techniques

Process improvement tools and techniques can be used in any business to help increase efficiency and productivity. There are many different tools and techniques available, so it’s important to choose the ones that will work best for your specific business.

Some of the most popular process improvement tools and techniques include

Kaizen

Kaizen encourages a mindset where small and incremental improvements accumulate over time to have a massive impact. It allows enhancing specific areas of a company, knowing that many tiny improvement steps may result in big outcomes.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

Organizations use the PDCA process to improve their business procedures. The PDCA framework is a four-step cyclical approach based on continuous process improvement. Each phase of the PDCA cycle contributes to identifying which processes are working and which require improvement.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is gathering data about processes to understand what’s going on. This data is analyzed and interpreted to find effective ways to improve the organization’s current practices.

Gap Analysis

Companies conduct a gap analysis to detect skills and experience deficiencies between what employees currently know or can do and what the company requires to fulfill its objectives.

Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis identifies the origin of the problem and finds a solution to the way it is being solved at the root level. Thus, organizations and professionals can see beyond the symptoms of the issue and find out where the real cause lies.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a lean manufacturing technique for tracking materials and information as they flow through the entire production process (from supplier to consumer). VSM enables you to spot waste and pinpoint which phases or items are of no value to the customer.

Kanban

Kanban is a management system that helps companies manage resources effectively. It is a visual tool that allows managers to track progress towards goals and visualize what needs to happen next. Kanban is a great way to help teams focus on the right thing at the right time.

Hoshin Planning

The Hoshin planning process is a method that companies can apply to set and achieve strategic goals. The purpose of the process is to develop a shared vision and set of goals that will guide the organization’s decision-making process.

Shella Marie Ang

SafetyCulture staff writer

Shella Marie Ang

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.