Seven Tips to Successfully Implementing Process Improvement
Submitted by: Joe Montoya
Organizations know that they must improve operational efficiencies in order to meet the ever-changing requirements driven by business/mission objectives. These operational efficiencies often come in the form of implementing new processes or improvements. Our experience with implementing processes and improvements has shown that there are 7 key principles that help organizations to ensure success.
- Executive Support – Executive Management must support the process improvement initiative. Without their approval, the initiative is sure to fail because of lack of funding and interest. You must be able to show the value in terms of dollars and cents or cost avoidance if you want executive buy-in. Invest some time in developing the value of the process to the business or the mission before you present the initiative to executive management.
- Stakeholder Participation – All stakeholders must be involved. Establishing a collaborative environment ensures that you get user buy-in from the staff and management affected by the process change. Often a new process creates uncertainty in staff who are doing the job today because they believe that there is a conspiracy to replace them. Make them a part of the process team and you will find that you will be able to effectively deliver the benefits of a new process or improvement.
- Processes must have Associated Procedures – Procedures provide the necessary step by step instructions that make the process steps real and tie in the tools used to deliver the required outcomes. As part of your process discipline make sure you develop procedures for each new process or improvement. By developing procedures for each process you enable effective training of the new process or improvement and establish a better understanding for those affected by the change.
- Roles & Responsibilities for each Process/Procedure Step must be well defined – People must know what their role is in the new or changed process/procedure. Make sure that you assign roles and responsibilities to each step of the new Process/Procedure/Step. A good way of doing this is to use the RACI chart. RACI is an acronym that stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. A RACI chart is a matrix of all the activities or decision-making authorities undertaken in an organization set against all the people or roles. Remember that processes do not process themselves; people have to “do” something to make the processes happen.
- Training – Process and procedure training must be conducted in order to meet process improvement objectives. Training helps to embed the new process into daily operations and ensures buy-in from staff.
- Metrics must be Established and Monitored – The process improvement should show business/mission value and metrics must be developed to show process effectiveness. You must be able to show that the process or improvement has met the objectives for the change.
- Processes should be Audited Periodically – In order to improve, processes should be audited and improved based on audit finding.
Whether you are identifying, analyzing or improving existing business/mission processes to meet new goals and objectives, such as increasing profits and performance, reducing costs or improving efficiencies adhering to these 7 principles will help to ensure that your process improvements are implemented successfully.