Successful Process Improvement

EVERYTHING we do is a process. Processes are the foundations of all organizations but a quality organization is one that understands and continuously improves their processes. Simulation is the tool to help you do this successfully.

What is a process

A process is anything that takes an input (an action, method or physical object) and transforms it in some way into an output. It's the steps in between which will add or detract the value from the final output.

Satisfying and exceeding the needs and expectations of customers should be the aim of every customer focused , quality organization. A customer can be external (e.g. a buyer, a patient, another organization) or internal (e.g. another department, a staff member)

Processes do not act independently, but interact with many other processes - across all areas of an organization, grouping together to form parts of larger processes. This is why choosing the correct process to improve, and not starting too 'big' is key to successful process improvement.

6 Steps to successful process improvement

Different methodologies employ different steps, but they can generally be summed up by 'Identify-Analyze-Improve'. The 6 step process below is only one technique, but we'll show you some others on our Process Improvement Methodologies page.

Step 1: Identify the Need and the Right Process

Set your goals before you start. What are you trying to achieve? Now which process will get you to those goals?

You have an enormous selection of processes to choose from so pick wisely! It is imperative that the process improvement activities do not take more time, or cost more to accomplish than the process is currently losing.

The key is to select a small and achievable number of processes, most directly influencing the achievement of the goals you have defined.

Need help with Multi-criteria decision making? Try V.I.S.A interactive decision making software

Step 2: Identify the Elements of your Process

What is the scope of the process - where does it start and end? Process Mapping is often useful to achieve a high level process map and sub-process maps. Other things to determine at this stage should include:

  • Accountabilities
  • Inputs
  • Outputs
  • Controls
  • Resources
SIMUL8's BPMN feature set is designed for creating graphical representations of Business Process Diagrams

Step 3: Identify the Past Performance and Analyze the Data

Create an accurate picture of your process by gathering all the current and historical performance data of the process you can. The important part of this step is to pick the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to judge your process against, how they will be measured, monitored and reviewed.

You've got more data than you will ever need - now you need to review it and recommend the changes to the process. Employing simulation at this stage allows you to ask 'what if' questions, and test out the changes to your process in a risk-free environment, before implementing them in your organization.

Find out more about what simulation is.

Step 4: Plan your Improvements

Now you need to translate your chosen improvements into a prioritized process improvement plan with milestones, objectives, performance measures and deliverables.

Step 5: Improve your process

This is often the most difficult step, as to implement the process improvements, you often require the buy in of management and other process stakeholders. Simulation helps by showing others in a visual, interactive way, how you came to an evidence-based decision.

Find out more about how simulation can help...

Step 6: Capture the Improvements

Once integrated into your organization, the improvements should be reviewed and built on. Procedures should be created and the changes, improvements and benefits communicated to all stakeholders.