Continuous Improvement Strategies for Great Results
Companies need to continuously improve their products, services, and processes to remain competitive, yet many companies struggle in this area. Making use of a continuous improvement model eases the process, but perseverance and persistence become necessary. Improvements take time, and small changes will be needed to see major improvements with time. Continuous improvement strategies help significantly throughout the process. Strategies for continuous improvement provide the desired results when implemented properly and used regularly.
Companies in need of Continuous improvement strategies for performance management often turn to the 5S technique. With the use of this philosophy, companies find they are better able to maintain a work space that is organised and clean, promoting enhanced functionality, efficiency, and productivity. Five strategies are actually used here: sort, set in order, shine, standardise, and sustain. Sorting involves removing all unnecessary items, setting in order requires one organise their tools and resources in specific areas so they can easily be accessed, and shine means one puts things away when they are no longer being used. Standardise involves organising all workstations that conduct the same job in an identical manner to ensure job processes are standardised, and sustain requires these standards be maintained and reviewed regularly to allow for continuous improvement.
Those in need of a Continuous improvement strategy for service organisations may find the Kaizen technique to be of great assistance. This long-term approach focuses on making small changes over a period of time. Although results won’t be seen immediately, the end results tend to be impressive. What makes this technique so beneficial is the fact that all employees are fully involved in the process, as this helps to ensure future improvement in all processes. Quality circles, teamwork and personal discipline are three traits that are highly coveted within this strategy.
The Lean technique focuses on maintaining the quality of one’s products while eliminating waste and reducing the employee workload. Areas addressed when using this technique include wasted resources, wasted time and wasted money. When this technique is used, companies witness improved customer satisfaction, an increase in employee morale and processes that are more efficient and streamlined. The goal is to remove any activities that don’t add value to the company to transform a business into one that is more competitive, agile, and profitable.
Any company may benefit from the use of the Plan-Do-Check-Act continuous improvement strategy. This quality model is designed to be used in a continuous improvement cycle. First, a company identifies or recognises an opportunity and determines where a change needs to be made. A continuous improvement plan is put into place and implemented on a small scale to see how it benefits the company. The results must be reviewed and analysed to see where the plan is working and where further changes need to be made. Successful changes may then be implemented on a larger scale, and unsuccessful ones taken back to the drawing board for modifications.
When a company feels they need to improve in the area of output, they often turn to Six Sigma. These quality management techniques are designed to identify errors and defects. Changes can then be made within certain parameters to move a process closer to perfection. Only six standard deviations are allowed when this strategy is used, and each deviation must fall between the specification limit and mean in terms of error. Motorola developed this technique, which has saved them more than $17 billion since its implementation.
Continuous improvement processes and strategies being utilised need to be routinely reviewed by business owners to ensure they are still working. The process is ongoing and may be modified at any time to eliminate those strategies that aren’t producing the desired results and incorporating new ones that may be of benefit. Don’t hesitate to remove a Continuous improvement strategy that isn’t working and trying a new one. This process isn’t set in stone, as each business has unique needs, and there’s no one model that works for everyone.