A new idea is a good start, but what good is it if we don't implement it optimally? A constant striving for perfection should not only be the goal of every manager in his or her private life, but also and above all in his or her professional life. Perfection is not a state, but much more a process. This article gives an insight into the methods of the Continuous Improvement Process.
CPI as a response to KAIZEN
Continuous Improvement, also known as Continual Improvement Process (CPI), is an important component of the quality management system.
At the end of the 1980s, the term Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) emerged in Germany as the equivalent of the Japanese Kaizen (KAI = change, ZEN = the good). Kaizen describes the process of changing something good for the better. The pioneer of this method was the automotive industry - especially Toyota and its production system in series production.
Cycle of improvement
The Continuous Improvement Process includes all measures leading to the improvement of products, services, processes or individual activities. These measures are planned, implemented, reviewed and finally improved. Then this cycle starts anew.
Behind this lies a very simple philosophy: no sudden improvements through constant innovations are aimed at, but rather a step-by-step perfection of the tried and tested, for example product, process and service quality. This continuous improvement is carried out consistently in small steps and has a starting point, but no end. Continuous Improvement is always a continuous process, based on the motto: there is nothing we cannot improve.
In contrast to the goals often pursued in the company, Continuous Improvement is not primarily about reducing costs. The focus is more on effectiveness and quality improvement in the company. The main focus is on the way of thinking of the own employees. The aim should be to constantly review one's own work in order to uncover new potential for improvement.
In order to give you a small example for starting points of Continuous Improvement thinking, we have once tied up our own office workplace and optimized it for better work processes:
- Every desk is clean, tidy and well lit
- A second screen is provided on each desk to make working easier and clearer
- Each workstation is equipped with sufficient writing materials (pens, paper, etc.).
- Hole puncher, stamp pads and similarly rarely used tools have a permanent place in the office, where they are returned by every employee after use.
- Documents and files are clearly named according to a fixed scheme and stored neatly so that they can be found quickly.
- Items that are no longer useful are sorted out and removed
- For routine work on documents or similar there are shortcuts, which allow you to perform several steps with one key command
It's not through inventions but through improvements that fortunes are made - Henry Ford
Adjusting screws in the company
Now the question arises of how to implement the mindset of Continuous Improvement in the company. The prerequisite for change is the uncovering of potential. These potentials are best generated by employees who are confronted with various problems and processes on a daily basis and develop their own ideas. The real challenge for companies is often to motivate their employees and encourage them in their ideas. With the help of trainings and instructions one can activate the idea finding of the employees. Additional motivators of an extrinsic nature can be operational incentives such as internal competitions, awards or financial rewards.
At best, Continuous Improvement can be identified by the following features:
- Every single employee contributes to improvements through his own comments and ideas.
- There is a multitude of measures in the company which can be implemented quickly and without bureaucracy in everyday life.
- The Continuous Improvement process is not limited to specific application areas, such as services or workstations.
- There is no end to the process, but it is assumed to be a continuous measure in the company.
- The way is NOT the goal. The decisive factor is the effect, not the procedure.
- Important principles such as (out) sorting, avoidance, order, clarity, standardisation, regulations and simplicity are firmly integrated into everyday life.
Implementation with Falcon
We develop the project management software Falcon, which helps you to implement your Continuous Improvement projects. Thanks to Falcon, everyone involved saves a lot of time and can focus on their tasks. Falcon creates clear responsibilities and a simple overview of the overall project, goals and progress.
Don't make the mistake of using Excel for your project management!
We know from experience that chaos is big and projects fail because of it.