Continuous Improvement is a pervasive attitude that allows an organisation to see beyond the present and create the future. Every organisation, regardless of size, can benefit from Continuous Improvement (CI) initiatives. A robust CI program can allow companies to identify and implement improvements on an ongoing basis without any interruption or disruption to operations. However, a poorly implemented CI program can often run parallel to operations without having any meaningful impact on the business function.
Barriers to implementing a successful CI Program.
Setting up a CI program is easy, however, setting up an effective CI program is anything but. The same barriers encountered in any OpEx or Lean initiative are present in the implementation of Continuous Improvement.
It’s for these reasons and many others that CI initiatives fail or at least fail to realise its full potential.
Benefits of a successful CI Program
Continuous Improvement programs work alongside other aspects of OpEx to provide ideas and insights from individuals at every level of the organisation. It’s often the nuggets of gold that come from those most involved in the processes that prove most valuable but without some nature of an open feedback loop this valuable knowledge can be lost.
A fully integrated and effectively managed CI program has shown to have the following outcomes:
Conversely, operating an ineffective CI program would rarely render any positive results and may even adversely effect employee morale and stifling innovation at its source.
Continuous Improvement is better than delayed perfection
As previously stated, setting up a CI program is easy, nail a suggestion box to a wall and when it’s full you empty it and read what is inside. It’s a primitive and ineffective form of CI but it just about qualifies as a CI initiative.
If you would like to implement an effective CI program which provides value and improves your KPIs then there is more to consider.
As with any new initiative it’s a given that a certain level of training will be needed for the workforce. However, the training for CI doesn’t need to be heavily detailed and time consuming but rather that the core concepts are understood. In a large organisation with multiple departments there only needs to be a small number of proficient CI champions but it is important that everyone in the organisation understands the potential benefits.
The “How” of a CI program can be make or break in the success of its implementation. Some companies use physical boards similar to notice boards, others use online SharePoints and some even use MS tools such as Outlook and Excel. The CI initiative should be housed in a system that provides visibility, accessibility and trackability as well as ease of use.
As with any aspect of Agile, Continuous Improvement works best when built into the QMS rather than existing as a separate entity in the organisation. Some view CI as an avenue for a quick fix rather that using it for periodic assessment and improvement and because of this their CI programs can become detached from day to day operations.
One of the most common and recurring barriers to CI implementation is resistance to change. The innovation adoption curve suggests roughly half of employees will either hesitant or resistant to significant change in the organisation. It’s important to consider this before implementing any large change including the introduction of a CI program.
Effective CI can have a transformative change to how organisations tackle the challenges of the future when aided by modern, reliable technology. By implementing a Connected Workforce solution such as Nvolve you can maximise the potential of your Continuous Improvement initiatives.