Improving Process Improvement – Part 2 of 2

We started this series exploring success metrics of a process improvement function which takes its own medicine, and then developed some work practices that drive effectiveness metrics. In this blog, we look at practices that drive efficiency. Following blogs will explore practices behind other metrics, and thereafter the right tools to support such practices. And finally in the concluding section, we will look at applying continuous improvement to the function.

Practices that drive Efficiency – Like in the case of effectiveness, let us look at practices uniquely placed to make process improvement projects more efficient, over and above broader project management best practices.

In our experience, the trick is to question all project work that is not directly creating new insights on importance of metrics, causes and solutions, or not helping convince the business to make the change needed. Therefore, much of the status reporting, most steering committee meetings, even many of the deliverables themselves, may fail this test.

This requires a Lean view of what constitutes value. For example, applying the Lean definition of value, would the customer – in this case the operator of the as-is process – see value in status reports and steering committees? They just want to know what is wrong, perhaps how you found out (if not already self-evident), what can be done, and what the benefit is. Reducing the effort required in all other activities will make for a Lean project.

It will reduce:

  • touch time, and therefore core team effort, and hence cost;
  • cycle time, and therefore time to benefits, and therefore increase the benefit itself

The non-value-adding activities are often self-generating. The longer we let a project go on, greater the need for governance and status reporting, and hence the longer it will take….it is essential to break this vicious cycle and focus on the core value-adding activities in the project, which is to create insights around what needs to be measured, what causes need to be explored, and what solutions need to be considered.

Watch this space for the next blog on practices that drive reuse and reduce variation in project delivery.