How to write a process improvement plan

A bad process results in workflow bottlenecks, missed deadlines, incomplete data, and, worst of all, wasted time and resources. If your organization is struggling with efficiency, and your employees are frustrated because they can’t reach their objectives, it’s time to make  improvements in the steps you take to reach your goals

Process improvement is a long-term initiative that improves the way an organization works. How do you create a plan to improve processes? This article explores the steps.

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Map out the existing process

The first step in creating your plan is to analyze the existing process that’s giving your organization trouble. Write down each step in the process in as much detail as possible. Be sure to break up the steps visually in a flowchart so you can get an idea of the workflow. 

For example, a process that involves getting manager approval may require two or three separate steps: sending something for approval, making adjustments based on manager feedback, and receiving approval.

Analyze where the issues lie

After you’ve outlined the process in detail, it’s time to scrutinize each step to see where the problems are. These issues can include bottlenecks, too many or too few resources allocated to a specific step, and excessive delays or miscommunication. 

Highlight the steps where problems occur on a regular basis. Be sure to get feedback from the employees who are directly involved in the specific process, as they may be able to shed light on issues you haven’t yet considered.

Redesign the process

After you’ve specified the potential problem areas, it’s time to figure out the solution and redesign the process. What’s the best way to eliminate the hurdles you’ve identified? Can you automate certain steps or remove steps entirely? Do resources need to be reallocated? Is communication the overarching issue? 

Be sure to collaborate with the people involved in the process to get their feedback on the best redesign.

Create a process improvement implementation team

After you’ve determined the best redesign for the process, it’s time to select a team that will put it into action. This team should consist of the people who are most directly impacted by the process and its changes. 

However, you also need to include others within the organization who have the specific skills needed to implement the process. These may include people in IT or operations, for example. 

Be sure to go over the plan for the redesign so each team member understands the new process and their role within it.

Implement the new process

Executing the new process is the most challenging part of process improvement planning. This is where you get to see whether the redesign is effective and helps the organization reach its goals — or whether it’s still problematic and wastes time and resources. 

Ensure there’s a detailed task list for each step of the process, including a timeline and assignments for each person involved. Outline how you will measure the success of the new process, such as the time it takes to complete or the cost of the resources allocated.

Monitor and adjust the process as needed

The last step of your plan — monitoring the performance of the new process — is a critical component. Is the new process more efficient than the old one? Look at the KPIs and focus on the data, but also get qualitative feedback from the people involved. 

For example, the new process may save time, but you may learn from talking with the team that it has more potential for risk in certain areas. Consider both qualitative and quantitative information when deciding whether the process needs to be adjusted further.

Now that you know how to create a process improvement plan, it’s time to get to work and make improvements in your organization. Be sure to involve those who are directly affected by any changes, and remember to factor in both quantitative and qualitative data when monitoring the performance of the new process.

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This article is originally published on Jul 09, 2021, and updated on Jun 14, 2022.

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