Process Improvement Basics

- a summary of the basics of Process Improvement, what the various techniques are and how they may be implemented to give significant returns.

Process improvement is an aspect of any business, whether electronics development or any other that is key to the performance and success of any organisation.

As a result, process improvement techniques should be a key element of any process / procedures system or management system incorporated into the way a company or organisation works.

It is found that companies and organisations not implementing process improvement schemes do not move forwards and therefore fall back in comparison with other competitors.

Therefore many organisations see it as a key requirement for the company management system or process definitions to include process improvement as a key element.

Process improvement basics

There are many elements that can be accommodated in a process improvement scheme. A number of the headline topics and processes include the following.

  • Benchmarking:   In order to understand how particular processes are working it is necessary to be able to measure them. Benchmarking also enables them to be compared with industry standards as well as looking at the effect of any process changes.
  • Total Quality Management, TQM:   TQM is based upon the idea that the ultimate quality of a product is the responsibility of all involved in the organisation. It involves all processes and people. Hence the name total quality management. Ream more about TQM.
  • Kaizen:   Kaizen is the Japanese for "improvement", or "change for the better." The philosophy involves a focus on continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. Ream more about Kaizen.
  • Six Sigma:   Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology, originally developed within Motorola to significantly improve its product quality. This form of process improvement It aims to improve process quality by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in the various processes used.
  • Quality Circles:   Quality circles are a form of process improvement scheme whereby employees undertaking the actual work form groups under the leadership of a team leader. They discuss and seek to improve the processes they are working on. The idea is that as they do the work, they are the experts and they can often see ways of achieving process improvement that management may not be able to envisage.

While these do not comprise the complete list of process improvement topics, they form some of the headline elements. The way they are implement and the actual ones used will depend upon the company. In many instances there is little to differentiate between some of the processes - the key point is that there is a continuous focus on process improvement and looking for areas where defects and inefficiencies occur.

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