Your small business should always strive to get better. By continually evaluating and refining the way you do things, you’ll be able to do more without needing more resources, but, there are specific steps you should take in order to incorporate the idea of continuous process improvement within your small business. Although there are many different models on how to continually improve, they all require you to repeat the same steps over and over until you’re happy with the changes you’ve made.
Continuous Process Improvement
Continuous process improvement is the strategy of making your business better through small changes. Some companies are able to make huge breakthroughs that fundamentally change the way they do business. This does not often result in good process development practices. By embarking on a continuous method of getting better, you increase your company’s and employees’ accountability, adaptability and consistency. To make continual changes, identify areas of potential improvement, develop a plan, execute the plan and assess how the changes impacted your business. You can repeat this cycle as often as you need for any change.
Using the plan-do-check-act cycle is one way to continually improve your company. First, it forces your company to anticipate customer needs and project future changes in your industry. After executing your plan, the PDCA cycle requires you to review the results. This continuous improvement technique makes you look back at your successes and failures so you can make better decisions in the future. The last stage of the cycle is to make adjustments and tweaks to your original plan. In most cases, this last phase can turn into a new plan, and the continuous cycle of getting better keeps going. Although there may be a learning curve for improvement, this cycle can repeat as often as you need until you’re satisfied with your process.
Reduced Waste of Time and Materials
Continuous improvement can help you increase efficiency by minimizing waste of time and materials, since it requires active assessment of the way you do things and looking at ways to get better. You may end up buying different materials, manufacturing your goods in a different way, or reassigning roles to different employees. In all of these examples, change does not come automatically and is not final. You must continually assess the way things are happening to find the best processes for your company.
Increased Long-Term Security
By continually improving, you also make your business safer. The goal of continuous process improvement is to increase efficiency, letting you make more products using less time and resources. You can use these practices to reduce your losses due to defective goods. You can also use continuous improvement to see where there are bottlenecks in your manufacturing process and figure out how to resolve the slow areas of your production line. Most important, continuous process improvement strives to make your company as great as it can be. This makes it more attractive for current and prospective employees. Reducing your employee turnover due to improved morale because your company is operating strongly and efficiently saves you money in the long run. By implementing a continuous improvement process, you will always move forward in making your company better.