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5 Process Improvement Methodologies to Scale Your Business

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processs improvement methodology implemented by manufacturing team

Exploring process improvement methodologies is an essential step for any growing business. If you’re looking to scale, then it’s crucial to iron out any efficiencies first. Otherwise, you’re only going to grow your problems into much bigger issues. If you have existing bottlenecks, then the delays they lead to will be multiplied. Sources of waste or defects will have an even greater negative effect on output. So, improving processes is a vital first step towards scaling any business. In this article, we explore five widely recognized improvement methodologies that you can apply to existing processes.

Process Mapping

Process mapping is the simplest improvement technique on this list and an ideal first step for any business. It involves drawing out every step of a process in a visual format such as a flow chart. This might seem like a basic strategy but you’d be surprised just how many companies fail to record their processes. It’s an invaluable way to understand exactly how they work, share them with new team members, and identify any opportunity for improvement.

The beauty of this approach is that it can be used by any type of industry or department, from automotive to medical and finance to marketing. Mapping and documenting processes can be applied to product manufacturing, service delivery, or internal business activities. It’ll give you a clear overview of what’s involved which you can then choose to build on with other methodologies.

Mapping Value Streams

This methodology takes the concept of process mapping one step further. Instead of just recording the steps in a process, it combines the flow of information and materials that are needed to fulfill it. It’s a key element of lean management since it allows businesses to identify where value is created. This can also help organizations to identify steps that aren’t contributing value and can, therefore, be eliminated to improve efficiency.

If you’re undertaking an improvement project, then stream maps can ensure that your changes allow more value to be created while eliminating waste. It’s one of the most effective process improvement methodologies for establishing a focus on the important elements. This approach is also useful for improving product development since it allows you to review new ideas with customers in mind.

Cause & Effect Analysis

The cause and effect analysis is exactly what it sounds like. This methodology allows you to identify the sources of problems and their effect on subsequent areas of a process or business. It’s sometimes referred to as an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram because of the way it appears once drawn.

If you have a known problem in your existing processes, then this approach will help you to isolate and then resolve it. Issues rarely happen in isolation – they’re more commonly caused by a combination of factors. A root cause analysis allows you to identify and analyze contributors to a problem to understand how they interact.

PDCA Cycle

The PDCA cycle comes from the Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement. Unlike the other process improvement methodologies we’ve discussed so far, this one addresses the entire spectrum from start to finish. Whereas process and value stream mapping aid strategic planning, PDCA cycles support improvement efforts from start to finish. This includes implementation and evaluation as well as data collection and ideation.

PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, and Act. It was first implemented as part of Toyota’s now famous lean manufacturing processes. By following these steps when executing projects, it maximizes their effectiveness and long-term success. This type of improvement cycle can be adopted by any type of business and by every department in an organization. The simple acronym makes it easy for staff to remember and implement on an on-going basis. By constantly analyzing, improving, and driving projects forward, it’s possible to create a culture of innovation. This approach can be applied to a product or service, as well as company-wide initiatives to improve productivity or safety.

Design for Six Sigma

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is a useful process improvement technique when you recognize the need to start from scratch. If you know that your existing process performance isn’t scalable, then this approach will help you to design new ones that meet more exacting needs. Sometimes known as DMADV, it’s one of the most useful process improvement methodologies for bringing about large step changes.

DFSS is part of the Lean Six Sigma process. If none of the other improvement methods have worked well enough, then this one helps to overhaul everything. Because of the large-scale changes involved, this one takes the longest time to implement – sometimes several years. But for businesses that are looking to grow and scale, this can be an efficient use of resources in the long run.

Selecting Appropriate Process Improvement Methodologies For Your Business

These tools and techniques can be useful to anyone responsible for process improvement projects. They aid strategic planning, quality management, and productivity, all of which contribute to a measurable improvement in bottom-line performance. The lean tools and improvement frameworks we’ve mentioned can be applied to any type of business, industry, or scaling requirement. If you’re just getting started, then process or value stream mapping will help with strategic planning. For those that want a complete solution, the PDCA cycle provides an end-to-end improvement tool. If you know that your existing processes need a complete overhaul, then the DFSS may be a suitable alternative.  

Implementing process improvement methodologies before you scale a business will also save a lot of headaches, frustrations, and wasted time down the line. Even the smallest changes can result in a rapid improvement in supply chain productivity, business profitability, and customer satisfaction. For organizations seeking to scale, these process improvement methods will ensure that growth efforts don’t create unwanted side effects. By streamlining current processes, reducing defects, and eliminating waste, you’ll build from a sound foundation and only scale the most efficient practices.

Your Digital Continuous Improvement Tool

Rever is all about sharing and reusing, doing and tracking. Continuous improvement becomes a hundred times easier with our innovative digital platform. Using Rever’s dashboard, you can monitor the performance of your teams, the summary of their impact, and easily identify the people making the biggest difference at your company.

Rever Cycle is our version of the PDCA methodology and guides your teams on the exact steps to follow to execute their own ideas. It allows them to capture the entire process, from identifying a problem to experimenting and implementing a solution. They can use it to capture the before and after with pictures, notes and drawings, making their ideas a reality in no time. The time of your team is too valuable to be wasted in handmade drawings and complex explanations.

At Rever, we believe that anybody can be a knowledge worker and thrive. What makes us human is the capacity to grow our intellect and will, and to use them for good. We observe, especially at work, that most people are asked to stop thinking and do as they are told. We want to change that. We enable people to achieve their full creative potential.

Interested in learning more about business process improvement? Then get a demo today with one of our friendly lean management experts.

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