Process Improvements Going Nowhere? Check Your Planning

A natural tendency after a huge project to implement processes is to relax.  Everything is finally aligned.  The business is being supported.  The process is under control.  The time has come to breathe.  Go ahead and breathe deeply, but don’t relax just yet.  The real work is just beginning, improving the process.  At every turn is an opportunity to fine tune that process: to make the workflow faster, deliver more quality, or do it cheaper than before.  No, it’s not time to relax; however, proper planning will make the job much easier.

Process improvement program require momentum.  Planning can kill this momentum or encourage it.  A balance must be reached between getting through the planning stages quickly and making meaningful, effective improvements to the environment.  So many elements exist that impact the process that some organizations stall trying to resolve all the possible issues surrounding improvements.  Achieve some quick wins with improvements that have an immediate impact on the organization.  However, don’t constrict the process such that it is not flexible enough to adjust to the changing needs of the organization.

Here are some suggestions for supporting the planning of process improvements:

  • Map process components to specific business objectives that they support.  As business objectives change, this mapping can identify the areas of the process that need to be changed to realign with the new objectives.
  • Maintain the work in risk management from process implementation.  Many of the risks still exist with the new process.  Knowing that those risks were overcome provides encouragement at the next implementation.
  • Lessons learned assists in ensuring that mistakes are not repeated.
  • Maintain a schedule of process areas to focus on.

With these in place, improvements can move through the planning stages quickly and with fewer concerns.

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