7 Questions For Process Improvement

A process can be defined as a set of steps or activities that use definition of inputs for the production of a result. While this may not be the true book definition, it is a descriptive definition for today’s businesses. In order to improve the work done in an organization involves a systematic approach. This is really what continuous improvement is all about. These seven questions, when carefully considered and answered by the knowledgeable people in the organization can contribute to achieve the best results for your business.

1. What is the work that is being done now? Sometimes companies can get so enamored with the latest and greatest fad, they forget the basics of the real work to do. This is a good time to take a step back and really assess the work that is done in a particular process or business unit.

2. How is the work that is being done now? This is the place where you can review the procedures, or, in the absence of written procedures clearly identify the actions to be done.

3. What is the work? Do what is being done (#1 above) match up with what is supposed to do in this area, department, or group activities.

4. How will the work be done? Once you have identified the work to be done, the procedures currently in use, and the magazines that you are ready to clearly describe how the work is to be done in the future. Write a procedure. Pictures or flow charts can be good tools to help you develop routines.

5. How good is the work done? Here you define the values for which the actual results can be monitored and measured. Focus on the desired result and not on the measurement of the specific step in the work that is being done, unless they are directly linked to production.

6. How can the work be done better? Now, shall we get to the continuous improvement piece of the action. Identify the measures that are necessary to do a better job. Best can be defined as the output per given input (revenue), less time, less waste, more money to the outputs…you get the idea. Focus on the statistics that need to be better.

7. What should you do about it? This is perhaps the most important question of all. Without doing anything to improve the process, all of the above measures was a waste.

Doing the work of the business better, day after day, week after week, month after month, is a never-ending struggle. However, there is a way to beat competitors, year after year. Get busy and do it!


Davis M. Woodruff, PE, CMC is an internationally recognized consultant, lecturer, and author, who is an expert in showing companies how to be low-cost, high-quality, environmentally responsible leader in their industry. The benefits he provides to his clients include: developing leaders; optimizing resource utilization, improve processes, quality and customer satisfaction, and save time and $$$. Since 1984 he has served clients in 35 states and on 3 continents. Davis is the author of a full length book taking Care of the Basics: 101 success factors for Managers, and has published dozens of articles. He is a 1972 master of science degree from Auburn University, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Engineer (PE). His consulting firm, Management Methods based in Decatur, AL, is now in its third decade. Davis can be reached at davisw@managementmethods.com or for more information, visit http://www.daviswoodruff.com


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