Continuous Improvement is the on-going improvement of products, services or processes through incremental improvements within a business.
It is not just about training and providing employees with the tools when implementing Continuous Improvement in a company, it is just as much about changing the culture of the organization to focus on opportunities for improvement rather than problems.
Continuous Improvement Tools
One of the most used tools for continuous improvement is the PDCA Cycle, this tool is also known as Deming or Shewhart Cycle.
- Plan: Identify an opportunity for improvement and plan the change.
- Do: Implement the change.
- Check: Analyse data from the result and check if it made a difference.
- Act: If the change was successful it can be implemented on a wider scale e.g. across all production lines while continuing to monitor the result.
Important Factors for Continuous Improvement
Some of the important factors that are essential for an effective continuous improvement program are the following.
- Leadership Support – This is a very important factor, if the team implementing the continuous improvement program or running the projects aren’t supported from management with time, resources and support, the program will never take off or work properly.
- Change of Culture – As mentioned earlier, implementing continuous improvement is about changing the culture of the business. The aim is to change the focus to preventive rather than corrective, or said in another way, be in a fire preventing rather than fire fighting mode.
- Consistency – Continuous improvement is not a onetime exercise or only a management initiative. It requires involvement from everyone in the business, and should be included in everything the organisation does.
What to Consider for Continuous Improvement Projects
Some of the things to consider when looking at areas to start a continuous improvement project are the following:
- How many people are involved in the process
- How much time is spend working within the limits of the process
- What could be gained
- Who would be impacted by a change
Benefits of Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement gives organisation a way to identify opportunities for improvements and act on them. Through the analysis a measurable gain is visible to the business. As it is a team effort that involves everyone, it can also contribute to team work in other areas.
If you are interested in Continuous Improvement, then our FMEA Training might be interesting for you as well, as it is one of the quality tools that focus on preventive maintenance.
Otherwise you can continue to our quality training page for an overview of the training we provide.Go to Quality Training