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Analysis> Process Change>What is Continuous Improvement? And why the move to Business Process Reengineering?


It's focusing on improving customer satisfaction by continuously making incremental improvements to processes and removing any unnecessary activities.


Many companies make business process improvements (especially at shop floor level) using a continuous improvement (CI) approach.  Some companies use a model to help measure and understand the current process to identify improvements that can be made.


A model that works quite well is the 7-step process.


The 7-steps are:


1.     Initial evaluation – identify and measure the current “As is” process, usually a process map is produced (Click here to read about What is a Process Map?).  The results and the customer’s requirements are documented. Details of any shortfalls and potential improvement areas are also indicated


2.    Define the problem and the potential cost of the improvement – use the data obtained in step 1 to assess what the problem could be and consider the potential costs to fix the problem


3.      Implement a quick fix (if appropriate) until the full CI process is complete


4.      Problem solving takes place - identify the root causes and generate ideas for potential solutions. Establish the Cost vs. Benefits of each solution. Click here to go to Analysis Knowledge Base  which provides information about the different types of analysis tools that can be used.


5.    Corrective action is taken – a solution is chosen, planned and implemented.  Click here to go to Analysis Knowledge Base  which provides information about the different types of analysis tools that can be used.


6.     Evaluate and follow up - Measure again, ensure the improvement is robust and sustainable.  And if applied, check the quick fix has been removed


7.  The results are published - successes are communicated and should be celebrated. 


It is usual to document the CI's progress on a CI Record Sheet.


The process is continuous and repeats over and over again, and that is why it is called continuous process improvement. You might also hear it called business process improvement or functional process improvement.

Continuous improvement therefore, makes changes in incremental steps and is based on refining the existing processes.


The Move to Business Process Reengineering

However, stiff market competition has meant that more and more companies want breakthrough performance changes, not just incremental changes, and they want it now. Few businesses can afford a slow change process.


One approach for rapid change and dramatic improvement that has emerged is Business Process Reengineering.


The difference between continuous process improvement and Business Process Reengineering is the starting point.  Continuous improvement is improving today’s process, whereas business reengineering is starting with a clean slate (Click to read about Business Process Re-Engineering).


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See also

Go to Project Management Knowledge Base

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Analysis Techniques
Project Management
Process Change


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