The goal of any business is to market their products as efficiently as possible to maximize profit. But often, the processes and procedures involved in producing those goods and services aren’t as efficient as they could be. That’s why having a solid process improvement plan in place can ensure your procedures and processes are smooth and effective.
Many aspects of process improvement can benefit from visual communication tools like infographics, presentations, mind maps and more. Venngage for Learning and Development teams makes it easy to create your own visual assets to help implement and manage your process improvement plans.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is an example of process improvement?
- What is a process improvement plan?
- What are the benefits of establishing a process improvement plan?
- What are the most common types of process improvement plans?
- How do you create a process improvement plan?
- Process improvement plan examples
- Process improvement plan FAQ
What is an example of process improvement?
As the name suggests, process improvement refers to the task of identifying, analyzing and improving existing business processes that are often outdated or no longer efficient enough.
While the term is most often used in a business context, it can refer to any decision or actions that aim to improve a process, be it as simple as finding a shorter route on your drive to work or as complex as improving the whole customer service process of a corporation.
Back to its business context, process improvement could target wasteful spending, poor office design, IT system downtime, employee disengagement and many other issues that can doom an organization.
Process improvement can’t be effective without proper process documentation policies in place. If you haven’t documented your company’s processes yet, we can help with that. Check out these process documentation templates to get you started.
What is a process improvement plan?
A process improvement plan is a document that identifies the steps necessary to enhance the efficiency of processes and procedures in your company. Helpful process improvement plans should be general enough that they could apply to many functions in your business.
A general process improvement plan could look like this:
- Define: Identify the specific jobs, tasks or processes are being targeted by the plan.
- Analyze: Break the process or task into steps and identify weak points in the process and the reasons for these inefficiencies.
- Redesign: Change the steps in the process to eliminate the weak points.
- Implement: Put the new process into place.
- Monitor: Establish a timeline for conducting this analysis again to determine if the new process is more efficient or needs additional tweaks.
In fact, there’s more than one type of process improvement plan, which we’ll explore more in detail. In addition to the example above, a process improvement plan can also consist of 6 steps:
Or 4 steps, like this one which is developed using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model:
These steps are, of course, quite simplified, and some process improvement plans will require months or years of changes to procedures, hiring practices, training, systems, software and more.
For example, a process improvement plan for a company lacking a specific skill set in its employees can mean hiring new staff and training the existing one. In cases like this, other tools like individual development plans can be useful.
This individual development plan designed for healthcare workers is a good example of how process improvement plans can branch off into other areas.
And once the new process is in place, it’s important to communicate it to the team effectively. That could be through a process infographic, timeline, mind map or other types of visual communication.
Customize this project communication plan to help streamline communication channels between teams working on the same project:
Another example of a process improvement plan, this nursing care plan is used in a healthcare setting only. It could be used to illustrate a new plan aimed at addressing gaps in communication and patient care. But you can use the process suggested in this plan and apply it to any industry.
This creative design process infographic would be an ideal way to share with a creative team a proposed new method of taking clients through the design process. Consider color-coding new or revised steps if creating a piece like this to share a revised company process.
Customize this action plan mind map once you’ve settled on a new process so that team members see steps involved in their tasks but also keep the main objectives in mind.
What are the benefits of establishing a process improvement plan?
There are many benefits of diving into a process improvement plan in your organization, and the most obvious and important is to improve your company’s overall efficiency. Doing so can make the business more profitable in the long run. But that’s not where the benefits end.
The biggest benefits of a process improvement plan include:
- Employee satisfaction: More productive workers make a company more money over time, but they also gain a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement.
- Customer satisfaction: Many process improvement plans target tasks that are customer- or client-facing, and making sure your customers are satisfied is crucial for any organization.
- Agility: The business landscape is constantly changing, so putting a process improvement strategy into place will equip your organization to handle future disruption.
- Safety: Efficient processes are helpful to reducing workplace accidents and repetitive stress injuries, and examining the physical activities employees are doing as part of their jobs can help make them safer overall.
- Modernization: Organizations that resist technology are likely not long for the world, and process improvement plans are ideal for adapting new technologies to your company’s workflows.
- Innovation: In any company, there are things you do because that’s the way you’ve always done them. But breaking those processes down to see how they function is one of the best ways to spark a new idea and create innovation in your organization.
What are the most common types of process improvement plans?
There are several popular methods of process improvement that you may consider integrating into your process improvement plans. Some of these methods are used in the largest companies in the world.
A quality control method developed by a Motorola engineer, Six Sigma has become a global phenomenon, and Six Sigma certification is highly sought-after in many industries. Six Sigma outlines five steps for improving existing business practices, abbreviated to DMAIC:
Here’s how a process improvement plan should be when using the Six Sigma method:
Lean & Lean Six Sigma
Lean traditionally is used by manufacturing companies, but the principles are useful across all industries, and as its name suggests, Lean process improvement plans focus on reducing waste. In particular, Lean aims to eliminate any activities that do not add value to the end user of the good or service. The steps are:
- Identify value
- Map value stream
- Create flow
- Establish pull
- Seek perfection
Lean Six Sigma is the hybrid of the two methods, helping organizations improve processes through DMAIC while also eliminating waste.
Total quality management (TQM)
Total quality management (TQM) had its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s before the advent of Lean and Six Sigma, but its main objectives are still valid today. TQM process development plans focus primarily on quality control, ensuring that the company’s output is of the highest possible quality and determining ways to make output even better.
TQM doesn’t have steps as most other process improvement methods do. Rather, it focuses on principles that should guide an organization with a TQM mindset:
- Total employee involvement
- Full team integration
- Strategic and systemic
- Data-driven decisions
- Constant communication
Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a continuous change management cycle that was first established by engineer and management consultant W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s. Back then it was called a Deming Wheel, which was later modified by Japanese engineers to arrive at its current definition.
The steps involved in PDCA are obvious:
How do you create a process improvement plan?
Change isn’t easy, and it can be a challenge for companies to figure out what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it. But that’s why establishing a process improvement plan framework can help you make fact-based decisions about how to improve your organization.
Following the steps we outlined earlier, let’s explore a hypothetical process improvement plan for a doctor’s office that constantly gets complaints from patients about how many forms they have to fill out.
- Define: How many nurses, technicians, physicians, receptionists and other employees give patients forms to fill out?
- Analyze: Write down the steps involved in giving forms to patients; do this for each individual whose job involves giving patients forms. List out the name of each form and determine if any are duplicates, could be condensed or could be given to patients at a different time.
- Redesign: Craft a new plan for having patients fill out the forms in question that ensures the medical practice has the information it needs and follows all required compliance and privacy measures. Outcomes could include requiring patients to fill the forms out before they arrive for their appointment, building an app that patients can use to manage their records electronically, providing any forms at either the beginning or end of their visit and giving them a private, comfortable area to fill them out.
- Implement: Notify patients of the new process and ensure employees are trained on it.
- Monitor: Establish a timeframe for seeking input from patients on how smooth the check-in process is, and identify any gaps or logjams that remain.
Customize this process improvement plan template to reflect the example above:
Process improvement plan examples
Process improvement plans are useful for organizations of all types, and their output can include simple verbal instructions. But most companies benefit from creating charts, presentations and infographics to communicate a variety of aspects surrounding the plan.
Check out these process improvement plan templates that may help your organization.
Process improvement plan development examples
Developing a process improvement plan is complicated, but visual tools like infographics can make it easier for your team to grasp the steps involved.
Help your management team and employees understand the steps involved in the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle with this infographic. Customize it for your needs by outlining specific actions they need to take in the bottom section.
This PDCA cycle infographic is ideal for companies that are implementing improvement plans across their organization.
Revised process examples
Once you’ve settled on a new way of doing things, explaining the new process clearly to employees (and sometimes customers) is critical. Process and timeline infographics are helpful, as they allow people to visualize the new steps.
Here’s an example of a process improvement plan to revise customer support process, built based on the PDCA concept:
Customize this project management process infographic for the new process you and your teammates are creating. Quickly change out icons for ones that apply to your business, and use My Brand Kit to ensure the design aligns with your corporate identity.
Use this colorful process infographic for a new process that has several steps. Lengthen or shorten as needed to cover all the steps in your revised process. Or use a template like this to create a process improvement action plan as you begin your work.
Revised policy examples
Process development plans can easily spill over into a variety of business areas, and it’s often necessary to craft new policies and procedures on the way to your new process. Infographics and other tools can help you spread the word and document these new policies.
If your new process will require added documentation that needs to be signed by an employee or their supervisor, customize this procedure infographic that explores how to submit expense claims. Change the title, content and illustrations for your needs.
Perhaps your process improvement plan revealed that nobody in your organization is prepared for a disaster or emergency. The output of your process improvement team could be a business continuity plan like this one.
Employee development examples
The success of your new process will depend entirely on your team’s ability to execute it, and many organizations find that a major reason why their current processes aren’t working is that team members lack certain skills. So, employee development is often involved in executing a revised plan.
Help team members visualize the skills they need to develop by working with them to create a mind map like this one.
Customize this career planning infographic for team members as you work with them to help them build the necessary skills. While this example is about career planning in general, it’s easy to customize with specifics for your employees.
Change management examples
Humans by nature are resistant to change, and your organization may find it challenging to implement a new process. These change management plans may help you communicate and motivate your team.
Follow the steps in this change management process infographic to break through your team’s stubborn adherence to old, inefficient processes.
Update this planning process infographic to help get your team on the side of change. Employees who feel they are involved in steering the company in the right direction will feel a strong sense of ownership in the entire process improvement operation.
Process improvement plan FAQ
Do you have more questions about creating a process improvement plan for your organization? We’ve got answers.
How do you propose a process improvement plan?
Communication is a critical part of process improvement. If people don’t know or understand why change is needed, it’s unlikely they’ll embrace any new processes. Proposing a process improvement plan requires an individual or small group who will own the plan’s development from start to finish and can be evangelists for the plan across the organization.
What are the contents of a process improvement plan?
In general, process improvement plans must include a definition of the process, an explanation of its steps, an identification of the ways in which it falls short, a proposed new process and a mechanism for monitoring the revised steps.
How do you find areas of process improvement?
If you knew exactly why your organization wasn’t as successful, you’d fix it right away. But finding areas of process improvement means keeping your ear to the ground and observing the organization in an objective way. Common areas of process improvement include authority overlap, constantly missed deadlines, poor quality control, physical safety issues, fixing errors rather than preventing them, employee and customer dissatisfaction and excess spending.
In summary: Process improvement plans can help your company be more productive and eliminate organizational frustration
Identifying where your company is failing in the processes used across the organization is not an easy task, as it requires dispassionate examination of how you may be falling short. But visual communication tools like infographics, mind maps and process illustrations can help communicate issues to your team and get everyone moving in the right direction.
Interested in visualizing your process improvement plans and gaining buy-in from stakeholders? Start by registering for a FREE Venngage account and choose a suitable process improvement plan to customize. Our templates are professional-looking, fully customizable and really easy to edit, even if you don’t have design experience.