How To Create A Process Improvement Plan
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A process improvement plan (PIP) is an internal or external document that outlines changes for a department, area, or larger system of activities within your organization. A PIP typically contains five components: what needs changing, who will implement these changes, when they will be done, how they will be implemented, and any extra steps needed to see results.
The first two parts of the PIP are usually linked together as making changes in an activity requires someone involved in that activity to agree with the changes. For this reason, part three is often missing because it assumes people have agreed upon the need to make changes and there’s already a leader responsible for implementing them.
Part four and five can be merged into one due to their similarities- both describe actions to be taken once changes have been made. Part five is also important because it warns those working under the person making changes about possible repercussions if they don’t cooperate with the new plans.
Identify the processes that could use improvement
The first step in improving any system is understanding how it works already, and what can be done to make it work better. Systems in your workplace may not exist only as an input of materials and outputs of products, but also as steps or actions to get things done.
Processes are one such action, and there’s always something you can do to improve them. For example, if the process for producing documents includes several steps, then you can begin by trying to cut down on some of those steps.
Or maybe there’t enough checks into how well each step is being carried out, so you can add more tests to see if it’s working. Or perhaps there’s too much hand-off between different people who should have ownership of parts of the process, so you can find ways to streamline communication and responsibility.
It doesn’t matter which process you look at, there’s usually something you can tweak to help it run more efficiently. In fact, most major organizational changes start with looking at little tweaks here and there.
Write down the process you want to improve
The first step in improving any process is to understand what part of the current process you want to change. You can do this by thinking about how you currently perform an activity, or looking at past practices to get ideas for new ones.
By taking these steps, you have already started the work towards creating a process improvement plan (PIPlan). Now, all you need to do is determine which PISteps make sense for your business and pick one that you feel confident doing!
That’s why it is so important to start with the basics – figuring out the workflow or sequence of actions needed to complete your job.
Once you know who will be performing each task and when, then you can move onto the next step - designing the better process.
Measure your process to determine where improvements can be made
The next step in creating an effective process is to measure your current processes, and see what you can improve.
This will require looking at both internal and external processes – how products are managed, time management, etc. You can use tools such as those mentioned above or even through third-party services that can help you do this.
By measuring these areas, you’ll get the true picture of what needs revamping so it can work for your company more effectively.
You should also look into whether there are any regulations put forth by governing bodies like the FDA that apply to your business.
Take notes on what you need to do to improve the process
Now that you have identified your weaknesses, it is time to take action by creating an improvement plan. Make a list of all the tasks needed to fix these problems.
Document your process improvements
The next step in creating an effective plan is to document your current processes, and determine what can be improved about them. What works well now may not work as well in the future, or you may find more efficient ways of doing something.
By documenting the things that are working now, you will know how to implement those into the new system when needed. For example, let’s say your department currently sends out monthly reports via email. You would document this process by looking at other departments’ methods they use for sending out reports — perhaps using a spreadsheet instead.
You could also look at why it was chosen over another method — maybe there’s no easy way to create the report in that software, so it’s more expensive than editing it in Microsoft Office, for instance. Or maybe someone outside of the organization creates the report, and is not part of the team sent out to edit and update it, which makes it harder to maintain their level of quality.
Present your process improvement plan to your team
After you have determined what areas of the business need improving, it is time to present these changes to your staff. You can do this in person, via phone or video chat, or through email messages or announcements.
You will want to be clear about what changes you are proposing and why they are needed. Make sure to include how their performance has impacted the work that others must now handle and/or explain how these changes will help the company achieve its goals.
When presenting your plan to employees, remember that some may feel overwhelmed or even threatened by such drastic change. Try not to get too attached to any one idea at first, as no single solution will fit everyone.
Instead, listen to what people say and how they respond to ensure that the project gets completed successfully.
Practice testing your process to ensure it is working properly
The next step in improving your processes is practicing them, actually putting into action what you have learned! This is an important part of improvement as you will need to verify that your current processes are effective and work before moving onto more advanced steps.
Practice making changes to these processes and see how well they work!
If there’s one thing we can agree upon it’s that no matter how experienced you become, things always look different when you’re not quite sure what you're doing yet.
That's why it is so important to practice using your skills, this includes practices such as changing a job assignment or giving feedback.
Track your process improvement results
The second part of creating a plan for process improvements is tracking your outcomes. You will need to track three things: how well you are performing your current job, what changes you made to perform that job better, and whether those changes worked or not.
Tracking your performance can be tricky because there are so many different metrics in your company. For example, if you are doing an exercise workout at the gym, you could measure how much weight you were able to lift, how long it took to do each set, and how tired you became during the session.
There are several ways to track your outcome measurements. Ask your peers, superiors, and colleagues in the department about their experiences with how well you perform your current duties.
You can also take notes on what works and what does not work in your current workflow and compare them to how they were before. By taking note of these differences, you will know what needs to be adjusted and/or changed.