Sometimes a business improvement project gives a business a direct benefit, one that is obvious and immediate. This is especially true when considering complaints from customers about delivery performance. It is also the case that sometimes the improvement is, or should be, a means to an end.
For example, if your business is running excessive overtime then saving that overtime expense would be a direct benefit. The lead time reduction project, or whatever you did to save the need for overtime, is the intermediary. It enabled you to make the real saving. Another example would be a project that saves the senior managers of a business time, this would only be really useful if the time could then be invested to grow the business or do something similar that would provide a tangible benefit to the business.
The idea of the tangible benefit is therefore the point I am getting to. When we are planning our improvements out we need to be conscious of our ability to ‘cash in’ on the projects we are delivering. The risk of not doing this is that we wind up delivering projects that don’t really have a purpose. Prioritising our improvement projects with this in mind is one simple way to help guarantee that the work we are undertaking matters in the long term.
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer