What is Continuous Process Improvement | Phases Of CPI

What is Continuous Process Improvement :

Continuous improvement is a philosophy with the objective of creating a culture that allows anyone on the team to make or suggest improvements to a product or process at any given time. So, whether you accept and implement improvement suggestions immediately, or if you do it at the end of each sprint, the key is to accept input from everyone on the team and to make ongoing iterative improvements to the development process, workflow, toolset, etc.

continuous process improvement
continuous process improvement

The continuous improvement cycle includes four key steps:

  1. Plan & Measure
  2. Develop & Test
  3. Release & Deploy
  4. Track & Fine Tune

Identify the opportunity:

  • The objective of this phase is to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement.
  • It has three parts
  1. Identify the problem
  2. Form the team
  3. Define the scope.

Analyze the current process:

  • The objective of this phase is to understand the process and how it is currently performed.
  • Key activities are to define process boundaries outputs and customers, inputs and suppliers and process flow, determine levels of customer satisfaction and measurements needed, gather data and identify root causes.
  • With the help of process flow diagram the team will
  1. Establish performance measures with respect to customer requirements.
  2. Determine data needed to manage the process
  3. Establish regular feedback with customers and suppliers.
  4. Establish measures for quality/cost/time of inputs and outputs.
  • Once the target performance measures are established, the team can collect all available data and information.
  • Gathering data by the team
  1. Helps confirm that a problem exists
  2. Enables the team to work with facts
  3. Makes it possible to establish measurement criteria for baseline
  4. Enables the team to measure the effectiveness of an implemented solution.
  • The team should develop a plan that includes input from internal and external customers and answers the following questions
  1. What problem or operation do we want to learn about?
  2. What are the data used for?
  3. How many data are needed?
  4. What conclusions can be drawn from the collected data?
  5. What action should be taken as a result of the conclusion?

Develop the optimal solution:

  • The objective of this phase is to establish potential and feasible solution and recommend the best solution to improve the process.
  • Once all the information is available the project team begins it search for possible solutions.
  • In this phase creativity plays the major role and brainstorming is the principle technique
  • There are three types of creativity
  1. Create new processes
  2. Combine different processes
  3. Modify the existing processes

Implement Changes:

  • Once the best solution is selected it should be implemented.
  • This phase has the objective of preparing the implementation plan, obtaining approval and implementing the process improvements.
  • Although the team has the authority in implementing the solution but it has to get approval from the quality council.
  • If such approval is needed from the quality council, the team has to give a written or oral report.
  • The report should fully describe about
  1. Why will it be done?
  2. How will it be done?
  3. When will it be done?
  4. Who will do it?
  5. Where will it be done?
  • The length of the report is determined by the complexity of the change.
  • Simple changes may require only an oral report, whereas other changes require a detailed written report.

Study the Results:

  1. This phase has the objective of monitoring and evaluating the change by tracking and studying the effectiveness of the improvement efforts through data collection and review of progress.
  2. The team should meet periodically during this phase to evaluate the results to see that the problem has been solved or if fine tuning is required.
  3. If the team is not satisfied, then some of the phases will need to be repeated.

Standardize the solution:

  • Once the team is satisfied with the change, it must be institutionalized by positive control of process, process certification and operator certification.
  • Positrol (positive control) assures that the important variables are kept under control.
  • It specifies that what, who, how, where and when of the process and is an updating of the monitoring activity.

Plan for the future:

  •  This phase has the objective of achieving improved levels of process performance.
  •  Everyone in the organization is involved in a systematic, long term endeavor to constantly improve quality by developing processes that are customer oriented, flexible and responsible.
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