The first step in streamlining work processes is to identify what slows them down. Many process improvement methodologies exist to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your processes. Here, Aaron Rodriguez, a business optimization specialist, provides a quick overview of each of the process improvement techniques.
Lean tools are used to eliminate wasteful process steps or activities that provide no value. The eight types of waste that you can eliminate with Lean tools are defects, overproduction, unused talent, waiting, transportation, inventory, motion, and additional processing.
“An organized office environment is essential for process efficiency, “Rodriguez explains. “With the 5S methodology, you can create a clean, safe and productive environment for your team.”
This method is generally used in all types of industries, from manufacturing to small businesses. It is useful for reducing costs, promoting safety, increasing process/equipment efficiencies, and eliminating waste from manufacturing processes.
A value stream map is a graphical representation of the flow of materials and information needed to get your product or service to your customer. It is generally used in the manufacturing industry. It is useful for identifying waste within and between processes, understanding decision-making and process flows, identifying and prioritizing areas for improvement, and setting quantifiable targets for improvement tasks. The mapping process can take up to three days to complete, but with the right equipment, it can be done faster.
Kaizen is a technique that calls for constant improvement in all functions of your company. It can be applied using the PDCA cycle. It is generally used in management departments, but also by quality control circles, waste analyzers, and ordinary workers.
It is useful for improving processes, product/service quality, and customer satisfaction, improving team productivity and job satisfaction and promoting greater safety and faster delivery. It is a continuous process and requires the active contribution of the entire company.
“Six Sigma is simply a smarter way to run a company. The expert points out. “It’s about collecting data on processes to understand what is happening. This data is analyzed and interpreted to find effective ways to improve the process. In this way, you will achieve increased customer satisfaction, reduced cycle times, and reduced defects.”
There are some widely used Six Sigma tools to improve processes in companies. A clear example is DMAIC, a five-step method (a direct descendant of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle) that is used to improve current processes.
If your products/services or business processes are not meeting customer expectations or performing well, DMAIC can help you discover why and find long-term solutions to the problem. It is generally used in all types of industries, especially teams working on projects.
This method is useful for improving processes or products, finding solutions to problems within processes, and reducing cost and time overruns.
“DMADV, also known as Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), is used to create new processes at the Six Sigma quality level,” Rodriguez says. “If your current processes are not meeting the required quality levels even after they have been optimized, it’s time to do a DMADV to bring about evolutionary change. Or, in other words, create a new and better process. It is generally used in all types of industries, especially manufacturing.”
This tool is essential to develop a new process/product, reduce errors in a product line and improve customer satisfaction.
Rodriguez has covered a number of business process improvement methodologies you can use to streamline your workflow and increase your team’s productivity. Use them properly and you will see how your goals can be achieved more effectively.