What Are Process Improvement Methodologies? 6 Types to Know

Guide

As a project manager, you’re no stranger to creating and optimising processes. While optimisation is a must, there are different ways to improve your project management practices.

Process improvement methodologies help you identify problems in your business processes and fix them. With the right framework, you’ll speed up work, cut costs, and enhance work quality. ⭐

Process improvement also helps your team learn and improve. If it’s high time for your team to take on more responsibility, process improvement is what you need. The challenge is choosing the right process improvement methodology for your specific situation.

In this guide, we’ll delve into business process improvement methodologies, share the most important approaches to follow, and give you a few templates to speed up process improvement.

What Are Process Improvement Methodologies?

Process improvement methodologies are approaches project managers use to optimize specific processes for a particular result, whether that’s product quality, waste reduction, or customer satisfaction.

Instead of trying to figure things out through trial and error, the methodology gives you a proven framework for analyzing, reviewing, and improving processes within your business. 🛠️

Most process improvement methodologies follow these steps:

  1. Identification: First, identify which processes you want to optimize so you only spend time and resources on the processes that matter most to you

  2. Analysis: Do a deep dive into your existing processes to see what is and isn’t working. Lean on data and metrics so you make decisions with less bias

  3. Strategy and implementation: Create a strategy to address inefficiencies based on what you’ve learned

  4. Review and iteration: Your first strategy might not be a winning one, so iterate on the process until you get the results you need. You may need to collect feedback and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to see what is and isn’t working

All methodologies are different, but they all act as a blueprint for refining and managing your internal workflows.

The most commonly used methodologies

There are a bajillion process improvement techniques out there. You’re free to choose the option that speaks to you, but let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used methodologies. 

  • Lean: Originally derived from Toyota’s Lean manufacturing team, this methodology focuses on eliminating waste in all its forms. This makes Lean methodology popular with manufacturing, construction, and any other industry that relies heavily on materials, parts, and labor

  • Six Sigma: This methodology focuses on reducing variability in manufacturing processes. There are two schools of thought within the Six Sigma methodology. Choose between Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) and Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify (DMADV) to improve processes

  • Kaizen: A Japanese term that means “change for the better,” Kaizen focuses on continuous improvement in just about everything, so it’s a helpful methodology that works for any organization

  • Total Quality Management (TQM): TQM focuses on improving product quality and services for customer satisfaction. If you rely heavily on end-consumers, TQM might be a good fit

  • PDCA Cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act is also known as the Deming cycle. It’s a continuous loop that creates a constant stream of improvement initiatives. It’s a great way to create a culture of constant improvement

  • BPM: Business Process Management maps out your current processes with flowcharts and other process modeling tools. Then it redesigns, executes, monitors, and refines your processes over time

Remember, these are just the most popular methodologies. Later in this guide, we’ll share more methodologies to give you a better idea of your options and why they might work for you. 

The benefits of implementing process improvement methodologies

Everybody likes improvement, but is it really worth your time to use a process improvement methodology? Some teams can get by without one, but that isn’t a good way to see real, lasting change. Implementing process improvement methodologies comes with many benefits.

Eliminate inefficiencies

Process improvement methodologies identify activities that don’t add value. They apply a critical lens to your processes to pinpoint redundancies and minimize waste, whether that’s in terms of time, resources, or materials.

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Guide

What Are Process Improvement Methodologies? 6 Types to Know

Process improvement also helps your team learn and improve. If it’s high time for your team to take on more responsibility, process improvement is what you need. The challenge is choosing the right process improvement methodology for your specific situation.