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Step Three: Improve

Your organization's success is dependent on “Improve."

W. Edward Deming was quoted as saying, “If you don't know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing." Throughout the book, we have encouraged you as a leader to ask the right questions so you can analyze with the right information or data. Through analysis, you turn this information into insights for actions to take place for improvement, and then you bring value to your leadership for sustainability to business success.

The process of analysis is in Step Three, “Improve." We have reviewed the planning of the management of business operations in Step One, “Identify," and the steps required in implementing a management system structure in Step Two, “Insure." In the third step, you as a manager will look at opportunities for improvement and the systems in place that will help to direct your choices.

Senior management meets on an ongoing basis to cover key operations with a review of measureable objectives and targets, monitoring operational controls and variances and understanding nonconforming goods and services and overall improvement for the management system. Many tools have been outlined in Step One, Identify, for setting objectives to improve operations, such as Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, best management practices, reengineering, etc. Each tool can benefit your organization in serving your customer and improving the way you manage your business.

Performance Evaluation

Performance evaluations can be an effective way for managers to do the following:

1. Monitor and measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the management system structure and how it is being implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis for business sustainability.

Establish actions to correct or prevent undesirable situations, ensuring risks are assessed in each process area. Protect the quality of product/service, the environment in which you work and the health and safety of those that work with you by monitoring requirements and being innovative with improvements to system operations, products, and services.

2. Receive feedback on the design of a project – that it has measurable objectives with indicators, provisions for collecting data and managing the project records for feedback to management for review, and realistic time frames and resources for implementation. Are projects tied to financials?

3. Receive feedback on tracking and status of projects or set objectives and targets for achieving their goals and expenditures, including process or milestone reports: date for delivery of product/ service (e.g., quarterly completion or final reporting) with output indicators – for example, time taken to process order, based on cost or operational ratios.

4. Provide guidelines or directions for planning new objectives and targets (projects) to ensure measurement tied to customer satisfaction and meeting management system commitments.

5. Identify potential risks, problems, or opportunities at an early stage and propose action items or solutions ensuring that we comply with regulatory, customer, and corporate requirements.

6. Stakeholder input – participation by stakeholders brings greater ownership for the project, encouraging and driving the business's mission. Stakeholder support early on in the process will reinforce the changes. Any problems requiring clarification and actions can take place sooner rather than later.

7. Review and understand variation in the output of each process area. Determine the factors within the process that influence the average performance.

8. Internal audits provide monitoring and verification of all management system processes. They provide inputs to management for review and suggest opportunities for improvement.

9. Compliance audits verify that we are meeting regulatory requirements and recommend improvements.

10. Management reviews inputs and outputs on a regular basis, receiving ongoing monitoring of business operations.

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