How do you change your goal into an improvement project?

In my last blog I raised a list of key areas that I think gain results in the initial improvement focus, so I’ve picked an example to help clarify one approach to starting the improvement journey.

Firstly be absolutely clear on what you are trying to achieve and why.

For this example let us assume that during the initial review the goal of the company was to improve their customer satisfaction, they seemed to be losing repeat business and receiving complaints. This was having a knock on effect to the profit due to loss of sales, returns and rework costs. These goals need to be translated down into meaningful solutions; brainstorming is one of many good problem solving tools that can be used for this. I find it also helps to use structured questions to start discussions.

  • Do you fully understand the product that you are supplying?
  • Do you and the customer understand what they want / need?
  • What are the main reasons for rejection / concerns?
  • Is the process efficient and up-to-date with technology?
  • How are your competitors doing it?
  • How can you fix the customer issues – Are there design issues?
  • Are employees adequately trained and engaged?
  • Is the process documented /consistent/capable?
  • Are there capacity issues or bottlenecks?
  • Where are your check points / Quality Control?

Asking what may seem like a lot of awkward questions at first will lead the investigation. Prioritise these areas and create your improvement opportunities.

 Secondly be absolutely clear on how you are performing before you change.

A lot of changes need to be based on much analysis of data, so each of these need careful consideration. You cannot quantify how much of an improvement there has been or cost saving until you fully understand what is happening and how much it is costing. Simple systems or spreadsheets can be set up for each of the key focus points building up a base line for improvement.

On a final note I would like to say people, people, people they are the key!

Fire up the enthusiasm and convert it into tangible business improvement. Make the improvements from the base level up if they have initiated the changes they will embrace them.


Next instalment: Using your Quality Management system as focus for improvement.