Many businesses would fail if they decided to stay the same over time. Innovation is about change. Businesses that don’t adapt to customer needs won’t see much growth.
Many organizations employ some type of process improvement methodology to adapt their processes for customer needs.
What is process improvement?
Business process improvements refer to methods that allow a team to evaluate their current processes and adapt them to improve productivity, streamline workflows or adapt to changing business requirements.
7 types of process improvement methodologies
To help you reduce inefficiencies, there are seven business process improvement methodologies that your team can employ. The most important thing is to consider the reasons you are trying to improve your business processes and what you are looking to achieve.
1. Six Sigma methodology
Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that reduces variation in the final product. This process was developed by Bill Smith, an American engineer and Motorola employee. It uses statistical data to provide benchmarks that help business leaders assess how their processes are working. If a process produces less than 3.4 defects per million cycles, it is considered optimized.
Six Sigma is a popular tool in manufacturing process improvement. It helps to minimize inconsistencies and defects. This is where consistency is key. Customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal.
Six Sigma uses two major processes: DMAIC to improve existing processes and DMADV to create new processes. This article is focused on improving existing processes so let’s get into the DMAIC process.
What is the DMAIC Process?
DMAIC, a Six Sigma process that optimizes existing processes, is an example of a Six Sigma process. DMAIC stands as:
- The opportunity for improvement.
- Monitor performance of existing processes.
- Analyze to identify defects and root causes.
- Address root causes to improve processes
- Monitor improvements and evaluate future performance to identify potential deviations.
The analysis stage is where the majority of DMAIC process improvements are made. To visualize possible causes of product defects, DMAIC teams use either a fishbone diagram or an Ishikawa Diagram during the analysis stage. As you move along the spine of the fishbone diagram, the head will indicate the problem. Each rib will list the possible causes. This visual analysis can help you identify all the possible root causes of problems.
2. Total Quality Management (TQM)
Total quality management (TQM), a customer-focused approach to managing quality, is an ongoing improvement process that encourages continuous improvement. This method is used often in supply chain management and customer service projects.
TQM is heavily based on data-driven decisions as well as performance metrics. To improve the process you use success metrics during problem-solving.
These are some of the key features of TQM.
- Customer-focus: TQM’s ultimate goal is to serve the customer. If your team is focused solely on quality, consider how this process change could impact how customers experience your product.
- Full-team involvement: TQM is different from other process improvement methods. It involves all members of the team, not just production. You may find ways to optimize business-centric processes such as sales or marketing to the benefit of the end customer.
- Continuous Improvement: Continuous improvements in business are small, incremental changes that aim to continuously improve processes. Business is full of uncertainty. Continuous improvement methodology allows your team to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Data-driven decisions making: To continuously improve processes, you need to collect data and analyze their performance. This data will help you identify inefficiencies and focus improvement efforts.
Process-focused TQM’s main objective is to improve processes. Six Sigma and TQM are other methods of process improvement. They work to reduce defects.
3. Lean manufacturing
This type of process improvement can be called many things, with Lean Manufacturing being the most popular. You may also refer to it as Lean production, just-in-time manufacturing, or Lean production. Lean was defined by Daniel Jones and James P. Womack in the book “The Machine That Changed the World.” It is based on the experiences of the authors at Toyota manufacturing.
The 5 principles of lean process improvement methodology
- Identify the value
- Value stream mapping
- Create flow
- Establish pull
- Continuous improvement
4. Continuous improvement (kaizen)
The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen guides so Continuous improvement model. Kaizen was born out of the idea. Life should always be improved to live more fulfilling and satisfying lives.
The same principle can be applied to businesses. Your business will succeed if you keep improving. Continuous improvement is about optimizing for activities that produce value and getting rid of all waste.
Three types of waste are kaizen’s goal to eliminate:
- Muda (wastefulness): These are practices that consume resources, but don’t add any value.
- Mura (unevenness): which leaves behind waste like the excess product.
- Muri (overburden): Too many strains on resources such as worn machinery or overworked workers.
5. Plan Do Check Act (PDCA)
Interactive problem solving is the PDCA cycle. It is used to improve processes and implement changes. Walter Shewhart created PDCA when he used the scientific method for economic quality control. W. Edwards Deming developed the idea further, expanding on Shewhart’s original idea. He used the scientific method to improve process quality and control.
The PDCA cycle has four steps.
- Plan: Decide what problem you want to solve and then create a plan.
- De: Implement the plan on a small scale.
- Check: View How the actions on the Do stage were performed.
- Act: Review the results and decide if you would like to implement the change on a larger scale.
PDCA stands for Process Development Cycle. These steps can be repeated until the desired result is achieved by your team.
6. 5Whys analysis
The 5Whys analysis is a process improvement technique that identifies the root cause of a problem. The process is very simple in theory. You gather all the stakeholders involved in a failure and ask one person: “Why did it go wrong? This process can be repeated five times until you discover the root cause. The Five Whys analysis is used to identify the root cause of an issue in a process. It doesn’t account for human error.
Here’s an example.
Problem: Customers are complaining more about damaged products.
- “Why did this happen?” “The packaging did not protect the products sufficiently.
- “Why wasn’t the packaging sufficient to protect the products?” “The packaging was not tested beyond a certain stress level by the team that tested it.
- “Why didn’t the team test the packaging more? “”The existing standard processes proved that testing was sufficient.
- What was the standard process that indicated that this testing was sufficient? This is because the process was designed for a prior product and not the current product that is being returned damaged.
- “Why didn’t there exist a new process to launch the new product?” Stress testing of the new packaging is not part of the project template that’s used to launch new products.
This example shows that the team asked “Why?” until they found the process error. In this case, the team added a step to their product launch template. This is how you can work with stakeholders to improve processes such as this. It is important to identify and work with others on the next steps so that production can improve.
7. Business process management (BPM)
Business Process Management or BPM is the act and process of improving and analyzing business processes. Businesses change over time, just like any other organic organism. While your team may have used processes that worked for you when you were a small team, they may no longer work as efficiently as they once did.
BPM is used to help teams identify bottlenecks and automate manual tasks. It also helps them to plan for inefficiencies. Business process management consists of five steps.
- Analyze: Take a look at your processes and map them from start to finish. This is also known as process mapping.
- Model: Sketch out the way you would like it to be. You should have identified any inefficiencies in the first stage. Now you can design how to fix them.
- Implement: Put your model into action. It’s crucial to identify key success metrics during this stage so that you can determine whether the changes made were successful.
- Monitor: Determine if your project is a success. Are your success metrics improving as a result of step three?
- Optimize: Keep an eye out for inefficiencies and optimize your process as you go.