So what is 'Continuous Improvement' anyway?

Your organisation could be suffering from a variety of symptoms:

  • Operational costs are rising, affecting margin %
  • You are not meeting revenue and profitability targets
  • There is a compelling event causing pressure, such as a new regulation
  • Customer complaints are increasing with no clear action plan to stop complaint happening
  • Post-merger you are experiencing differences in team approaches
  • Processes are broken or causing misunderstanding & delays
  • No dedicated resource, capable or with enough capacity, to fix your problems

Continuous Improvement, or Operational and Process Excellence, is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes, also known as process re-engineering.

  • These efforts can seek "incremental" improvement over time or "breakthrough" improvement all at once.
  • Delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved to increase their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.
  • Initiatives are managed through programmes or projects using best practice improvement methodologies.
  • Teams need to be developed and guided through the journey.

Sounds Complicated

It’s not.  We use established methods to help achieve long term solutions to these challenges, such as Lean 6 Sigma.  But that’s a buzz phrase isn’t it? A fad? The latest thing, a tool, a quick cheap training course with a nice colourful certificate?

Actually it is fairly straight forward with decades of success stories behind it.

It’s about increasing value delivered to the customer, whilst eliminating wasteful activities and cost. Lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources and effort. A mature organisation understands how its customers and teams perceive “value” and focuses its efforts on key processes to continuously increase it. The Holy Grail here is to deliver enough continuous improvement to increase value to the customer and the business, through a perfect process that has zero waste. A tough challenge by anyone's standards.

Applying a toolset to eliminate waste along the entire delivery of a product or service, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make, at far less costs and with much fewer errors, compared with other approaches and spot fixes.  At Greenlight we’ve learned that through repeated application of our simple toolset, our customers have become more able to respond to changing needs and desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast delivery times.

We have helped our customers slash processing time, improved the effectiveness of teams and delivered massive improvements in customer complaint statistics.  That sounds pretty far away from a buzz phrase or a fad.  It sounds like common business sense.

Continuous Improvement for Services

A popular misconception is that traditional frameworks and techniques are only used in manufacturing. This is simply not true.  Lean Six Sigma was developed in a manufacturing environment, but the techniques and tools apply in every business and every process. Businesses in all industries and services, including banking, retail, travel and healthcare have been applying the principles to the way they think, to help reduce excessive operational costs and waste.  Driving both top line and bottom line improvements far in excess of the cost to execute the process.

There are lots of easily and instantly recognisable types of waste, here are some examples:

  • Paper-based mail rather than email.
  • Applications or other forms waiting for approval or signoffs – sometimes multiple signoffs - causing long lead times, excessive scrutiny and significant paperwork for low risk transactions.
  • Employees looking for information or sharing redundant information, paper storage rather than digital storage, information becomes inaccessible and hard to find.
  • Switching between computers and databases & systems, downtime leading to delays in processing.
  • Customer waiting in a queue to be served - either in store, on the phone or online.
  • Requests and forms waiting to be processed manually, the same data required at multiple places in a form, incorrect data entry & incomplete data in application forms and repeatedly gathering the same information from the customer.
  • Dispatching multiple account statements – even on paper, printing documents at all – and before they are required.

Recognising Waste

Being able to recognise this “waste” is the first step. We’ve all been annoyed by unnecessary queuing and daft questions on forms, and to be able to forever remove this activity from your business takes a long-term perspective, a bag full of patience and perseverance. It takes time to change the way we think, we are creatures of habit after all, once we do that, anything is possible!

Your Culture and Language

Greenlight recognises that many organisations choose not to use the words in a toolkit out of the box, but to label what they do to align with their language. Executed brilliantly, they change the way the company operates. The words are often used to characterise a company moving from an old way of thinking and lead to a complete transformation on how a company conducts business. Greenlight will help you achieve this, in your own language and at a pace to suit your needs.

Why Greenlight?

Greenlight are passionate about what we do and who we do it with.  We have a section of our website that is dedicated to providing you with the information you need to make the decision to work with us.

We believe in getting to the point with minimum fuss and providing the information and doing the things that add value to our clients and nothing else. 

Get in touch today to see how we can work together to deliver the improvements to take your business to another level.