Monday, March 11, 2013 10:48 AM
View other posts by Troy Nielsen
After long hours and much effort, a project team discovered the root cause of a nagging manufacturing problem and identified a solution to the problem. A pilot study tested the solution with positive results, and the number of types of defects was reduced. After this heroic effort, the project team claimed victory, and they published the results and annualized savings of the solution. The project lead wrote a few e-mails and met with the process owner to explain the process change.
A few weeks later, however, a management review meeting revealed that the original problem had quickly resurfaced: the defects were back. Further investigation showed that the process changes were not fully implemented. The original project savings were now suspect at best. What could have been done to prevent wasted effort, missed opportunities, and bruised reputations?
In any process improvement project, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the critical data exploration, root cause analysis, and solution design. After these stages are complete and initial improvement gains are revealed, the remaining tasks can seem unimportant by comparison. But the effort to fully implement the solution into daily operations, create a control plan, and organize transition activities will provide continued return on investment.
As a process improvement practitioner, it is crucial for you to understand the approach and tool set for implementing a process change from an improvement project into the daily operation. Without the appropriate level of attention to sustaining process results, there is significant risk that the initial gains may not be continually realized by either the process owner or the customer. Understanding how to properly usher an improvement into existence with adequate support and a good transition plan goes a long way toward making improvements permanent.
Do you struggle with making initial gains from process improvement projects sustainable over the long term? The Accenture Academy course Sustaining Process Results describes the structured approach and provides the tool set that will ensure that the initial gains from an improvement project become sustained gains.