When we talk about continuous improvement, we are talking about the evolution of work methods: shortening times, maximizing results, eliminating bottlenecks and waste. Continuous improvement in process management is about finding the improvement points in a flow. How can we do this? The answer is simple: with the use of indicators.
Think of an assembly process, in which all screws are placed manually with a screwdriver. In a hypothetical situation, looking at the indicators we conclude that it takes 10 seconds for each screw and about 3 seconds for the transition.
Thus, from the analysis of these indicators the process analyst verified that if the task were automated (using a screwdriver, for example), it would take 2 seconds for each screw, with 2 seconds of transition. In other words: the execution time would be much shorter.
But, as we will see, it is not only by acquiring new methodologies, technologies or tools that we can improve a process.
Process Management: continuous improvement
Many times, after a process mapping, we realize that improvement can be made by changing the flow or including new steps. However, in order to do this we need to generate metrics with day to day information, identifying the critical points.
These metrics tools, commonly known as BPA, can help us understand where we need to work on improving processes. Of course, many times we don’t depend only on the application of technology to improve a process; we can also count on work methodologies.
There are already efficient methodologies for applying continuous improvement, such as PDCA. We also have others, such as AS-IS TO-BE mapping, in which we can restructure a process in order to improve it.
In addition to PDCA and AS-IS TO-BE Mapping, there are the following methodologies:
BPM, or Business Process Management, is a methodology that helps us handle the processes in a company. It aims at the integration between process actors and task automation.
In process mapping the first task to be performed is the identification of bottlenecks, problems, automation points, and improvements. After its implementation, we apply continuous improvement and monitoring to identify the viability of automation. The process analyst must always be aware of improvement opportunities to obtain better results.
According to the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity), approximately 80% of the effects of an event come from 20% of the causes.
In the world of process management the Pareto principle helps. The reason is that when we find an improvement and apply the Pareto principle, we get 80% improvement in our process.
We can conclude that process improvement is a routine of process monitoring and analysis. Depending on the results and metrics, there is the need for further monitoring or restructuring of processes. All this to continuously increase efficiency and generate more results.
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