We have written several articles on the important topic of selecting projects so will keep it brief in this article.
Continuous Improvement is about filtering down to the critical factors that have the most impact on the performance of an organization and its processes. This is no less true when selecting Continuous Improvement projects. Typically continuous improvement is executed in the form of projects of different magnitude.
Effort focus, through Project selection, is one of the key success factors that can make the difference between a winning business and a frustrated one. Project selection determines the true impact of projects on the company and whether they add value to the customer and thus back to the business.
Although this is such a critical factor, it is also the one that is most often riddled with error. Arriving at the selection of a project should be as structured and as objective a process as possible, as is the actual Continuous Improvement project process.
A project idea hopper should be in place and treated as a live system. It should be updated continuously with new project ideas and reviewed regularly.
Evidence, data and facts should be used to select projects. It typically starts with the company’s dashboard of key metrics. The process should take into account the company’s strategy and not narrowly focus on the next quarter. The performance gap is identified. This is followed by identifying the processes that will bring about the desired outcome.
At this point, projects are identified at the process level that will improve the performance thereof. This usually results in the identification of sub-processes.
A list of project ideas is taken through a project selection and prioritization matrix that uses the company’s key deliverables as ranking criteria.
With the projects now selected and prioritized the relevant champion defines the business case for each project. The project objectives, metrics and benefits (COPQ – cost of poor quality) are buttoned down. This forms the basis of the chartering process.
It is absolutely key that projects are correctly scoped. To narrow and the project may not deliver on its plan benefit promise. Too wide – “boiling the ocean” – and the project cycle time will be pushed out, even indefinitely.
The right balance between cycle time and benefit is vital. It may mean that at the outset of implementing Continuous Improvement the results are biased towards cycle time. Meaning that it is important to show early wins no matter the size. As the implementation moves on in its life cycle focus is shifted towards increasing the bottom line results.
Another element to consider in the charter include:
- A project description.
- Current issues, defects or “pains”.
- Team members.
- In and out of scope.
- Primary and secondary metrics.
In the next winning with Continuous Improvement secret, we will explore knowledge transfer and the importance of Improvement Project Leaders coaching and mentoring.
Back to the introductory article Implementing A Winning Continuous Improvement Program
Back to the previous article Continuous Improvement Structure