What is continuous process improvement and why is it important? The editors at Solutions Review explain.
In today’s fast-paced business environment and ever-changing marketplace, continuous process improvement (CPI) is a must for businesses wanting to maintain profitability and a competitive advantage. Every business, no matter the size, no matter the industry, wants to achieve continuous process improvement in order to simplify processes, reduce process waste, and optimize workflows.
What is Continuous Improvement?
Ben Mulholland, Editor at Process Street, defines continuous improvement as a method to make sure that your processes, methods, and practices are as efficient, accurate, and effective as possible. This is done by periodically examining and improving your processes to smash bottlenecks, use the best software, and take advantage of the most efficient methods.
“If you’ve ever heard of lean, kaizen, Six Sigma, or DMAIC then this will sound familiar, as continuous improvement is based on similar principles and forms a key part of both of those practices. This is because the primary objective of any changes is to reduce waste and streamline your work,” explains Mulholland.
How does it differ from CPI?
CPI, on the other hand, refers to the examination of current business processes (only) to determine whether or not they’re meeting the goals of a company. The main objective of CPI is to make small, incremental changes that will provide greater value in the long run. Mulholland argues that incremental continuous improvement is all about making small tweaks to a process, method, or practice to improve it as problems are found. This usually costs less and can be done much faster than using the breakthrough method. Business Process Management (BPM) software, takes this to the next level by focusing on CPI.
What is Continuous Process Improvement?
When most people think of BPM software, they most likely refer to it as a tool that automates important business processes, however, it is much more than that. On top of automation, BPM software implements, tracks, monitors, executes, and optimizes already existing processes (and workflows) within an organization. You can probably see where the confusion comes from when discussing continuous improvement and BPM.
As the word “continuous” implies, CPI and BPI are not one-time actions. Once you succeed with a process improvement initiative, you need to periodically look back to see whether there are any changes or improvement that need to be made. This cycle of process improvement repeats continuously as long as the process lifecycle stays active. In this way, an environment of continual business process improvement is born into the organization, but is structured in a very easy-to-use software platform.
Process improvement is a key feature of many BPM software products, as they serve to automate and optimize processes that are added into the software suite. For example, once the processes are run via the software, process managers, end-users, and executives can then see where improvements need to be made within the process by looking at the data provided (like completion times or status info).
Benefits of CPI
Continuous business process improvement that BPM software can provide supports organizations with increased profits and productivity, improved quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced costs, more consistent data entry and so much more. In some ways, BPM software gives off the impression that it’s not software at all, but instead, is a continuous process improvement method.
The Association Of Business Process Management Professionals describes BPM as, “A disciplined approach to identify, design, execute, document, measure, monitor, and control both automated and non-automated business processes to achieve consistent, targeted results aligned with an organization’s strategic goals. BPM involves the deliberate, collaborative and increasingly technology-aided definition, improvement, innovation, and management of end-to-end business processes that drive business results, create value, and enable an organization to meet its business objectives with more agility.”
From this, it’s clear that implementing a BPM solution can help any business or organization achieve continuous process improvement and continuous business process improvement.
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