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Where Do You Start Process Improvement?

I was doing some work today with a team who were trying to work out how to improve their business' processes.

There was a lot of debate about where they should start this conversation.

I let them carry on for a few minutes, and then decided to pull them back into the conversation that we needed to have.


I drew their attention to the process maps that their business already had and their quality processes that backed up this information. Thankfully I had done my homework prior to this meeting!

A number of the team looked blankly as I showed them their documents, it was if they hadn't seen them before. Actually it turned out that they really hadn't seen them before, but I'll leave that for another blog post!

The point of this post, and the point of that meeting, was that process improvement should only start from scratch if you have nothing to work with. Instead of re-inventing the wheel every time you embark on process improvement you have the opportunity to get your last piece of work / last reference point and build up from that point.

And, if you have twigged this already good for you, this is part of the simplicity and power of PDCA (Plan - Do - Check - Act). When you complete a process improvement activity you need to lock it down in the business; update your process charts, re-write your procedures, update your SOPs, change the visual management boards, change your skills matrix etc...

You do this, of course, so that next time you re-visit a business process you have a nice neat place to start the conversation from.

So, where do you start your process improvement conversations?


Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering