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Recognize The Opportunity For Process Improvement
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Recognize the Opportunity for Process Improvement

What are the common good practices to follow when improving processes? This question is a very important one when you want to start improving the way you work. When it comes to these activities, best practices are really something flexible that you can adapt. Personally, Lean Six Sigma is my background. The methodology I use is the Kaizen blitz that also includes some Lean Six Sigma concepts. The philosophy foundation I apply is based on a simple process called RDMAAC or RDMAIC (Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve (“Améliorer” in French) and Control (Follow-ups)). These different methodologies all overlap in some areas and propose different approaches in others. I will talk about all of them in every step when applicable.

I will break down the business process improvement best practices in 6(RDMAIC) articles so we can understand the links between the different methodologies one step at a time. Today I will start with recognizing the problem at hand.

The most important step you need to focus on is the identification of the problem (also called opportunity identification). When you understand what the problem is you can work on the next steps. Recognize that a problem exists and that it’s the cause of the process lack of performance is determinant for the whole improvement project. We can recognize that a need or a problem is there when we receive client complaints, when our objectives are not met, when competition has more success than we do.

In RDMAIC and Lean Six Sigma, we use specific tools to identify the problem: Strength Analysis to identify opportunities, Pictures, Process Analysis, Dashboards and Pareto diagrams are the most popular. I could spend many paragraphs writing about tools but we will leave that aside for now and focus on the methodologies.

I like to combine a Kaizen approach to this opportunity identification. This approach is more philosophical but very structured. Kaizen is more of a people person methodology. As a consultant, you sit down with the manager or director initiating the change and you go through a project charter for this future improvement project. The project charter is the equivalent of the “R” and “D” phases of RDMAIC. It usually takes a few hours to complete and by the end of that activity you have a clear definition of the Mandate, a strong primary objective, maybe a few secondary objectives, measuring guidelines for these objectives, dates for completion, different client list and an overall list of the important deliverables for the improvement project.

Today, we talked through the first phase of continuous business process improvement which is: Recognizing the problem or opportunity. In this phase, we saw a list of tools to use that I will explain in details in the future (I can’t talk about everything right away...) and we also talked about Kaizen and it’s people oriented approach through a Project Charter. Don’t forget, process improvement has the objectives of making clients happier, increase productivity and ultimately, improve the way you work.

I will talk to you soon on the next phase: Defining the opportunity.

Happy process improvement!


Street Talk

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