Process Improvement Plan

December 2, 2009

Process improvement plan is part of the overall project management plan. That the process quality can take care of the quality of the output and continuous improvement is necessary to zero in on quality targets; are well known principles. Thus a plan for improving the process in use has to be constantly looked at for opportunities of improvements possible.

Process Improvement Plans

A typical process improvement plan documents the ways to analyze a process and mark the areas/activities that can improve the process. The areas that should be considered include process boundaries, process configuration, process metrics and targets for improved performance.

Process boundaries are issues that define the processes such as the purpose of a process, how it begins and ends, the inputs/ outputs, data required, the process owner and the involved stakeholders. This is the basic requirement. The items involved with this define the process as it exists now. So that forms the baseline in any improvement activities to be planned. Like any other innovation generating, brainstorming activities, these existing items should be able to trigger thoughts about, changing, modifying, reducing, increasing, changing in some way and any other variation you can think of, to generate what can make improvements to the process happen.

Process configuration is a graphic depiction of the process. It lets you illustrate the interfaces with other processes too. Being graphical this lets you visualize the process accurately, particularly as you are able to take the interfaces into account too. This understanding along with the process boundary information will help with analysis to be as comprehensive as possible. Process metrics and their respective control limits let you analyze the process efficiency accurately. Targets for Improved performance lets you decide the targets to chase in the process improvement plans.

Armed with these details one can embark on the process improvement planning. A well known methodology is the GQM or the goals, questions and metrics. This is discussed here only as an example. This is not the only method available but gives you a general understanding of what needs to be done in creating a process improvement plan. It is one of the simpler methods and may not be the most effective.

To have meaningful measures an organization needs to establish goals. You then link the goals to data; the data that gives operational foundations for measurements. The outcome of a GQM approach is a set of identified measures directed to specific issues. The measure could be conceptual or goals, operational or questions and quantitative values that are metrics. Goals typically would include products, related processes and resources. Attempts at setting the goals should be able to define the objects to be considered, purpose of the analysis and the focus or the quality issue.

Questions raised should be to put the object identified in goals in context of specific viewpoints. The questions may help additional measures necessary to identify answers to the questions. Metrics are the associated set of data that help provide an answer. The metrics could be subjective or objective. The answers related to the necessary changes then need to be implemented to improve the process.

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