The new handbook has been developed to assist team leaders at all levels who are involved in process improvement efforts. Together with the Basic Tools for Process Improvement, or “tools kit,” it provides the practical information you need to initiate and successfully carry out process improvement activities. The approach and tools described in the handbook follow a Basic Process Improvement Model. This model differs in many respects from the Process Improvement Flowchart found in the CNO-sponsored Starter Kit for Basic Process Improvement distributed to commanding officers several years ago. The Basic Process Improvement Model is much more detailed, in keeping with the “how to” approach used in the new handbook. Together, the model and handbook explain the actual actions teams must take to improve a process. Before diving into the step-by-step discussion, let’s first clarify some terms, look at the benefits of process improvement, and think about the best way to get started.
Business processes are fundamental to every company’s performance and ability to successfully execute on business strategy. Technology can help, the right people are important and proper supporting structures are necessary. However, processes are the key mechanism by which businesses deliver value to the marketplace. But how do companies establish high-performing processes? The key is understanding the current maturity and performance of a process, identifying the level of performance required and establishing a path for achieving the desired maturity and performance.
Understanding processes so that they can be improved by means of a systematic approach requires the knowledge of a simple kit of tools or techniques. The effective use of these tools and techniques requires their application by the people who actually work on the processes, and their commitment to this will only be possible if they are assured that management cares about improving quality. Managers must show they are committed by providing the training and implementation support necessary.