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Process improvement strategies

There are hundreds of strategies out there and available for your company to try to help improve the company processes. Whether it is the newest idea bubbling out on the market or an old tried and true method you dust off the shelf, you need to make sure that whatever strategy you employ is one that best fits the needs of your company.You may have to try several before finding one that works best with your industry, machinery / technologies and personnel.

Here are some strategies that you can try to help improve your company's processes.

Strategy #1: One of the most well known and widely used strategies is entitled Six Sigma. The point of Six Sigma is to help your company identify what is most critical to your customers and then identify and address the methods to make those areas better, faster and less expensive than before. Six Sigma can be applied to any area of your business. It can help in human resources as much as it does out on the production floor.

Strategy #2: Another strategy is known as the 5 S method. The 5 S method provides a simple method to organize and manage shared work environments. This strategy is easy to remember as each of the five strategic pieces all begin with the letter `S'.The five phases of this strategy in order are as follows:

  • Sort - This step focuses on eliminating items that are unnecessary to the space or process you are trying to improve.
  • Set in order - This step focuses on being well-organized. What is it you need to do your job? Where should I put those items to make sure I can find it and use it when needed?
  • Shine - Once your area is organized and unnecessary items are eliminated it is important to make sure your area is clean and stays that way.
  • Standardize - It is important to start to standardize processes to help make specific tasks more efficient.If every worker comes up with their own method for a particular task, time that could be utilized for other tasks could be lost.
  • Sustain - The hardest piece is to sustain the changes made. It is part of our own human nature to return to the status quo or what is most comfortable. It is important that once these changes are made that they are sustained for long-term benefit.
Strategy #3: Total Quality Management (TQM) is another effective process improvement strategy. This strategy focuses on making sure that tasks are done correctly.It focuses on improving awareness of the processes themselves. If individuals are aware of what they are doing, they can do the process correctly the first time helping to eliminate additional time spent on fixing or repairing the item or process. Strategy #4: Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).Total Productive Maintenance provides any and all training necessary for employees to help them better understand the equipment and the machines they work with on a daily basis. With proper training employees will have less accidents and or break downs. Your employees are also trained on maintenance prevention and how to fix the problems their machines might have. The end goal of TPM is to eliminate all losses. When employees are well trained on their machines and how to fix them your process will improve.

Some other strategies that are smaller in scope but help overall processes include De-Bottlenecking and Design and Operations Simulation Analysis. De-bottlenecking is self explanatory from its title. Processes improve when the progression follows a smooth pathway without bottlenecking at any particular point. Design and Operations Simulation Analysis is allowing technologies to help in simulating the design and operations of your company. Using this methodology can provide a perspective not easily seen by the naked eye. The simulation can help to quickly identify areas of need.

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