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October 24, 2012

20 Tips for Process Improvement

I offer these 20 tips for process improvement as a straightforward checklist of some of the key issues. Feel free to add more.


1: Know your process: work with the team to map and analyse your critical service processes.


2: Get to know the team: they know what the issues are.


3: Gather data on the performance of your critical processes. How much time is lost in waiting, checking, rework etc?


4: Set clear metrics for your process – quality, velocity (flow), service.


5: Improve the flow of your Value Stream: capacity will increase and costs will decrease.


6: Waste in service and administrative processes is mostly information waiting in queues for someone to act on it: there is little coordination between steps.


7: Work to increase the velocity of your processes – reduce waiting, set up, rework, delays and so on.


8: Work on the bottleneck – the process constraint. Improve throughput there to improve flow throughout.


9: Focus your early improvement activity on steps near the customer to ensure that they see early benefits.


10: As a priority address where and how you process could fail (FMEA). Mistake-proof critical failure modes first.


11: Realign metrics with a Value Stream (flow) perspective.


12: Remember, we are not measuring outcomes, we are measuring process capability – Quality, Flow (speed), Delivery, Productivity. Improve the capability and you improve the outcomes.


13: Sustain improvements to your service processes with standard work – including managers’ standard work.


13: Service processes must always serve the business’ primary Value Streams.


15: As your organisation moves towards lean you must move away from transaction based service processes.


16: Start with a Value Stream pilot to demonstrate lean as a system and provide a “go see” model.


17: “Learn by doing first and training second”, Jeffrey K Liker, The Toyota Way.


18: “Look harder at the problem. Then look again. The root cause will begin to present itself”, Nick Souter, “Breakthrough Thinking”


19: “The famous tools of the Toyota Production System are all designed around making it easy to see problems, easy to solve problems, and easy to learn from mistakes.  Making it easy to learn from mistakes means changing our attitude toward them.” – John Shook.


20: “Don’t fight the system; change the rules and the system will change itself.” – Russell Ackoff