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Three Phases of Continuous Business Improvement

Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.

US educator & physicist (1918 - 1988)
After an improvement has been made to a business - through a system implementation/ enhancement and/or a process change - many companies struggle to keep the momentum going to drive continuous improvement. In my recent publication in Techlinks about driving business benefit from an ERP implementation, I outlined the 3 phases of Continuous Business Improvement. Below, I have adapted these for process changes as they relate to Organizational Change.

Phase 1: Adopt
After the change, most teams focus on supporting and/or rolling out the changes with little or no attention to the formalization of these changes. The objectives of the Adopt Phase are:

• The establishment of effective leadership/ ownership of the new process/ system.
• Making changes part of the day-to-day business process.
• Clearly documented new processes and procedures.

This will result in business ownership of the changes. This ownership is a key requirement if you want to ensure that improvement is not a once off event.

Phase 2: Sustain
Once the initial improvements have been made, you can put process controls in place to ensure that you don't go back to they way you were before. In fact, process control is part of and Six Sigma implementation. However, it is just as improtant to get the organizational side of this equation right too. Thus the objectives of the Sustain Phase are:
• The establishment of end user competency programs.
• Process support and capability.
• The retention of employees with portable business process skills.

This phase must result in a competent resource base and a formal process for managing issues and defects.

Phase 3: Exploit
Apart from driving value for the business, process improvement intiatives also build capabilties for additional imprvements. How? The experience of going through an improvement project builds valuable experience in your people. Also, with systems implementations, the full capability of the new system is fully exploited in the begining. Thus, the objectives of this phase are:
• The formalization of the process for identification and prioritization of exploitation opportunities driven by business value proposition.
• A structured process for planning and execution of continued improvement initiatives.
• The organizational alignment of resources.

This phase must result in well managed improvement initiatives and resources that are aligned to effectively exploit opportunities.


1 comment:

Miguel Carson said...

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