So, let’s get started …
At the outset, there is no ultimate business improvement or continuous improvement methodology. Please do not waste your time to search for one.
Over the years, several business process improvement methodologies have been suggested and successfully applied to various industry sectors.
Eighteen such continuous improvement methodologies applicable to manufacturing and service sectors are explained in my book entitled ‘Business Process Improvement for Manufacturing and Service Industry’. Check it out here-https://www.amazon.com/Business-Process-Improvement-Manufacturing-Industry/dp/1988663075/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503707949&sr=8-1&keywords=shruti+bhat
Built upon each other, these methodologies often employ common tools for problem solving. They represent the experiences and thoughts about process improvement by workers, managers, consultants, and scholars throughout the entire industrial age. They are still evolving today, as more and more organizations have started to implement them.
The Six Sigma process improvement methodology was developed in Motorola company around 1986. Their aim was to improve processes, minimize variations and eliminate defects from their operations and products.
As much as 3.6 million defects are reduced per million opportunities in a Six Sigma process. The number of defects decrease further as the ‘sigma’ level of the process increases. But so will the cost of running operations.
Usually a mix of 3-sigma and 6-sigma processes give optimal rewards.
Also, combining Six Sigma with other process improvement techniques such as Lean, Kaizen, Agile or Hoshin further improves process efficiency and reduces operational cost.
But no matter what the process improvement methodology or what benefits it claims to generate, it can never be the only solution to improve organizational performance. In fact, over-commitment to it can actually weaken an organization’s competitive advantage. And it is advisable to combine two to three process improvement methodologies to achieve best rewards.
To grow, an organization must balance process improvement with other initiatives such as innovation, improved product/ service features, employee development.
Although process improvement can improve lead-time, productivity, inventories, cost, and quality, it can never replace an innovative product.
In other words, a new product needed and wanted by customers will generate a dramatic demand in the marketplace that the organization can succeed even without process improvement. Having said that, if such a customer-centric innovative company were to follow process improvement techniques, it would augment its profits exponentially.
Similarly, process improvement methodologies can never replace commitment of competent employees. When innovative and job-trained employees of an organization are committed, they will improve the processes even without any formal process improvement initiatives.
Hence, I iterate that none of the process improvement methods, including Six Sigma is ultimate. You must select the methodology best suited for your workplace. Check out more about how to choose a business process improvement methodology for your organization here.
I shall discuss more FAQs concerning effective & efficient business process improvement in upcoming parts of this blog post series...
By the way, if you run a company that is facing a challenge to thrive in these difficult times, I would suggest that you please revisit your business processes in order to accelerate growth and bring a quick turnaround.
- Kaizen for pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech industries.
- Business process improvement techniques for manufacturing and service industries.
- How to choose a business process improvement technique for your organization.
- 30 Popular continuous improvement tools.
- YouTube #Shorts videos on Continuous Improvement.
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