There are many reasons continuous improvement should be a priority within your organisation.
Continuous improvement will:
make your processes more efficient reduce costs result in better quality products enhance employee productivity improve customer outcomes give your organisation a competitive edge
To fully realise the benefits outlined above, it is important to incorporate continuous improvement into everyday business practice. This creates a culture of continuous improvement that drives consistent and positive organisational change.
1. Plan your approach
It is vital that you clearly define the scope of your continuous improvement activities. You can best achieve this through proactive planning and management. You can create a continuous improvement plan that is discussed and reviewed on a regular basis. Your plan should cover areas such as:
continuous improvement actions intended benefit/s of each continuous improvement action the person in charge of managing each action indicators that the action has been implementedmeasures to evaluate the success of each actionassociated costs
The plan can also be complemented with a continuous improvement register, to be updated by relevant personnel with suggestions and opportunities for improvement.
2. Manage performance
Each organisation has different performance management practices. Most performance management initiatives involve regular discussions around overall progress in relation to pre-determined goals and objectives. This stage is the perfect time to integrate elements of continuous improvement by:
evaluating each employee's contribution to specific continuous improvement actions discussing continuous improvement goals with the employee where relevant, assigning additional responsibilities relating to continuous improvement actions
3. Seek feedback
It is important that your organisation has robust feedback collection mechanisms in place to collect, collate and evaluation feedback from:
customers employees stakeholders where relevant, the wider community
Allowing scope for feedback from a variety of different voices can help provide a fresh perspective and learnings about your products and services. You can use these insights to plan continuous improvement actions. As a bonus, positive feedback and appreciation provides motivation that will drive ongoing excellence.
4. Undertake internal audits
Internal audits allow your organisation to monitor your progress in an objective and consistent way. When undertaking internal audits, you will be able to track continuous improvement by:
monitoring changes within your organisation's policies, processes and practices evaluating compliance with relevant standards and legislation identifying additional areas for improvement that have not yet been documented
By offering a holistic view of your business activities, internal audits are a key method of evaluating the extend to which continuous improvement is embedded within the culture of your organisation.