7 Types of Process Improvement Methodologies [2023] • Asana (2023)


Business process improvements are methodologies in which a team assesses its current processes and adapts them to increase profitability. This article highlights seven different process improvements your team can use to reduce inefficiencies and increase profits.

If companies decided to remain consistently the same over time, many of them would collapse. Innovation requires change, and if companies don't change to meet customer demands, they won't achieve great growth.

This is the reason why many organizations use some kind of process improvement methodology to adapt their processes to customer demands.

What is process improvement?

Business process improvements are methodologies in which a team assesses its current processes and adapts them with the intention of increasing productivity, streamlining workflows, adapting to changing business needs, or increasing profitability.

Create a process map template

7 types of process improvement methodologies

There are seven different business process improvement methodologies your team can use to help reduce inefficiencies. In most cases, the methodology you choose depends on why you want to improve your processes and what you want to improve.

1. Methodology Seis Sigma

six sigmaIt is a process improvement methodology that aims to minimize the amount of variation within the final product. Developed in 1986 by American engineer and Motorola employee Bill Smith, this process uses statistical data as a benchmark to help business leaders understand the performance of their processes. A process is considered optimized if it produces less than 3.4 defects per million cycles.

Six Sigma is often used in manufacturing, mainly because it helps to minimize defects and inconsistencies. The goal here is to optimize consistency, which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction.

There are two main processes used in Six Sigma: DMAIC for existing processes and DMADV for new processes. Since this article is specifically focused on improving existing processes, let's dive deeper into the DMAIC process.

What is the DMAIC process?

DMAIC is a Six Sigma process used to optimize existing processes. DMAIC means:

  • Definethe opportunity for improvement.

  • Measurethe performance of your existing processes.

  • To analyzethe process for finding defects and root causes.

  • To improveprocesses addressing root causes.

  • To controlany improved processes and evaluate future process performance to correct deviations.

Most of the DMAIC process improvement occurs during the analysis stage. During the DMAIC analysis stage, teams use a fishbone diagram or adiagrama de ishikawa, to display the possible causes of a product defect. The title of the fishbone diagram indicates the initial problem; then, as you follow the backbone of the fish, each rib lists different categories of problems that could lead to the initial problem. This type of visual analysis is a good way to identify the different issues that a root cause can create.

2. Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a customer-focused approach that involves continuous improvement over time. This technique is often used in customer satisfaction and supply chain management projects.

TQM relies heavily on data-driven decisions and performance metrics. During the troubleshooting process, you use success metrics to decide how you can improve a process.

Here are some of the key features of TQM:

  • Non-client focus:The ultimate goal of TQM is always to benefit the end customer. If your team is focused on improving quality, ask yourself how this process change might affect the way end consumers experience your product.

  • Participation of the whole team:Unlike other process improvement methodologies, TQM involves the entire team, not just production. As a result, you may find yourself looking for ways to streamline more business-focused processes, such as sales and marketing, to benefit the end consumer.

  • Continuous improvement:Continuous improvement in business is the idea of ​​making small changes with the goal of continually optimizing processes. There's a lot of variability when it comes to business, and continuous improvement helps your team adapt when external circumstances change.

  • Data-based decision making:To apply continuous process improvement, you must continuously collect data to analyze the performance of your processes. This data can help identify where there may be inefficiencies and where to focus improvement initiatives.

Focus on the process:The main objective of implementing TQM is to improve processes. Other process improvement methods such as Six Sigma work to minimize the number of defects, while TQM works to decrease inefficiencies.

3. Lean Manufacturing

This form of process improvement has many names, withlean manufacturingbeing the most common. It can also be called lean production or just-in-time production. Defined by James P. Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos in "The Machine That Changed the World," Lean outlines five key principles based on the authors' experiences in manufacturing at Toyota.

The 5 Lean Principles

  1. identify value

  2. Value Stream Mapping

  3. create flow

  4. define idiot

  5. continuous improvement

Read: What is lean project management? 5 principles explained

4. Continuous improvement (kaizen)

The Japanese philosophy of kaizen guides thecontinuous improvement model. Kaizen was born out of the idea that life must be continually improved so that we can lead more fulfilling and fulfilling lives.

This same concept can be applied to business, because as you continually improve, your business can be more successful. The objective of continuous improvement is to optimize value-generating activities and eliminate any waste.

There are three types of waste that kaizen aims to eliminate:

  • Young (waste): Practices that consume resources but do not add value.

  • Wall (unlevel):Overproduction that leaves residues, such as excess product.

  • in (overload):Too much pressure on resources, such as worn-out machines or overworked employees.

Read: Understanding Kaizen: A Guide to Continuous Improvement in Business

5. Ley Plan Do Check (PDCA)

The PDCA CycleIt is an interactive form of problem solving. It is used to improve processes and implement changes. PDCA was created by Walter Shewhart when he applied the scientific method to cost-effective quality control. Later, the idea was developed by W. Edwards Deming, who expanded on Shewhart's idea and used the scientific method for process improvement in addition to quality control.

There are four main steps in the PDCA cycle:

  • Plano: Decide what problem you would like to solve and create a plan to solve it.

  • To do:Test and implement the plan on a small scale.

  • To check:Review how actions were performed in the Do stage.

  • Act:After reviewing the test results, decide whether or not you want to implement the change on a larger scale.

PDCA is an improvement cycle. This means that these steps can be repeated until your team achieves the desired result.

Read: What is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle?

6. Analysis of the 5 whys

The 5 whys analysisIt is a process improvement technique used to identify the root cause of a problem. In theory, it's a very simple process: You gather a group of stakeholders involved in a failure, and one person asks, "Why did it go wrong?" Repeat this question about five times, until you get to the root of the problem. The 5 Whys analysis aims to identify problems within a process, but not human error.

Here is an example:

Problem:There has been an increase in customer complaints about damaged products.

  1. "Why did this happen?"Because the packaging was not enough to protect the products.

  2. "Why wasn't the packaging enough to protect the products?"Because the team that tested the package didn't go beyond a certain level of stress.

  3. "Why didn't the team test the packaging more?"Because current standard processes indicated that the indicated tests were sufficient.

  4. "Why did the current standard process indicate that this test was sufficient?"Because this process was created for a previous product and not for this current product that is returning damaged.

  5. "Why wasn't there a new process for the new product?"Because the new product launch project template does not include new packaging stress testing.

You can see in this example that the team asked "Why" until they identified the process error that needs to be corrected; in this case, add a "repackaging stress test" step in yourproduct launch template. When working with stakeholders on processes like this, it's important to identify issues and create next steps together so your production can improve.

7. Business Process Management (BPM)

Business Process Management or BPMIt is the act of analyzing and improving business processes. Like any organic being, companies grow and change over time. Your team may have implemented processes that worked when your team was small, but as you grow, those processes may not scale in a way that allows your team to be as efficient as possible.

Most of the time, BPM helps teams identify bottlenecks, ways to automate manual work, and strategies to improve inefficiencies. There are five main steps to business process management.

  1. To analyze:Look at your current processes and map them from start to finish. This is commonly known as process mapping.

  2. Model:Make a sketch of what you want the process to look like. Ideally, you will have found the inefficiencies in the first step and can write how you would like to resolve them in this step.

  3. Implement: Put your model into action. At this stage, it is important to establish key success metrics so that you can assess whether or not the changes you made were successful.

  4. Monitor:Decide if your project is successful or not. Are the success metrics identified in step three improving?

  5. Optimize:As the process evolves, keep looking for inefficiencies in your process and continually optimize as you go.

Read: A Beginner's Guide to Business Process Management (BPM)

Manage process improvements to increase productivity

As a team leader, one of the most valuable things you can bring to your team is clearer processes andbetter workflows. When used effectively, process improvement increases your team's productivity and decreases inefficiencies.

To increase clarity and improve processes, try work management.Work management tools.how Asana can help you take your team's productivity to the next level by standardizing processes, streamlining workflows, and keeping your team in sync.

Create a process map template


What are the different process improvement methodologies? ›

Process improvement Methodologies

Lean manufacturing: A systematic process to minimize waste without sacrificing productivity. Lean Six Sigma: A combination of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. Total Quality Management (TQM): An organization-wide effort focused on continuous improvement to improve customer quality.

What is Six Sigma methodology for process improvement? ›

Six Sigma is a process that makes use of statistics and data analysis to analyze and reduce errors or defects. In this process, the purpose is to improve cycle times while reducing manufacturing defects to no more than 3.4 defects per million units or events.

What is similar to Six Sigma? ›

TQM is similar to Six Sigma; TQM focuses on improving internal guidelines and process standards to reduce errors, while Six Sigma concentrates on reducing defects.

What is step five in the seven step model for process improvement? ›

5. Analyze the data. The data becomes information as it is analyzed to identify service gaps, trends, and the impact on the business. It is the analyzing step that is often overlooked or forgotten in the rush to present data to management.

What are the 7 steps of improvement process? ›

Seven Step Improvement Process
  • Step 1 - Identify the Strategy for Improvement. ...
  • Step 2 - Define What to Measure. ...
  • Step 3 - Gather the Data. ...
  • Step 4 - Process the Data. ...
  • Step 5 - Analyze the Information and Data. ...
  • Step 6 - Present and Use the Information. ...
  • Step 7 - Implement Improvement.
Jan 24, 2023


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