Process Improvement

”Quality comes not from inspection, but from improvement of the production processes.” (W. Edwards Deming)

I started my career as an Industrial Engineer. Rooted in scientific management, following Taylorism. Our concern was method study – are we using the best methods to do a job, in some instances charting hand movements, and using synthetic data to build ‘standard times’ for ‘standard work’. As things evolved over the years, we became more focussed on the spaces in-between the work, as producing lots of ‘things’ was not ideal. My reflection on process improvement now is still influenced by the best methods, and also the process being right-sized, serving customer needs, reducing queues and it is usually realised by engaging people doing the work as they have insights from doing activities daily. It is unfortunate as we migrate towards more complex computer systems, we often end up serving the needs of it, doing processes in a manner that align with its’ needs rather than the customer. During this automation phase, our hierarchies have become so comfortable with secondary information, we rarely spend time at the source, and that is where the process happens. I have never lost the desire to be as close to the actual process as possible, and often empathise when told ‘I have to do it this way, because the computer needs it presented like that’ (Not all computer systems are bad, some are fantastic, but unless we visit the source, we will never know).

Main benefits:

  • Identify underperforming processes with the team (pain points).
  • Plan, do, check, act, approach to improving processes.
  • Engaged team building right-sized processes.
  • Processes that work because people who design them work them.
  • Documented processes in a quality framework.
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