Planning Process Improvement Steps for Success

Written by Ian James, Nov 26, 2013

Planning process improvement will greatly increase your chances of success. Here are the steps to follow.

Whiteboard video explaining why less than half of all process improvement initiatives are successful.

Most Process Improvement Initiatives Fail…

Less than half of all process improvement initiatives are successful. And when they fail not only is it a big waste of time, it also makes people wary and cynical about process in general. And that makes it even harder the next time you try process improvement.  But there are some obvious pitfalls to avoid. This video is about planning process improvements  to improve your chances of success.

It’s A Project So Treat It Like One

A Process Improvement effort requires the coordination of a lot of people and resources. In other words, it’s a project. So, it needs realistic goals, a defined scope, and all the usual foundations of a well-managed project.  So if you want it to be successful, you have to treat it like a project and plan carefully before jumping in.

Remember That You Are Changing The Way People Work

Almost by definition, Process Improvement is about changing the way people work.  It makes things impossibly hard if they are not willing participants.  So, before you even begin, you have to have made your case for change to the people who will be most affected by it.  If not, you will set yourself up for a long and uphill battle.

While it has a big pay off in the longer term, Process improvement, is disruptive to everyday work and expensive in people’s time. You will need the enthusiastic support of the managers of those involved. Without it, you won’t get the time and resources you need to do a good job.

 Start Small

Most organizations have many processes they want to fix. It is very tempting to try to go straight for the most urgent and messed up process. But you need to climb the learning curve. So choose a short and relatively simple process to start with. Learn from it before you move on to more complex processes.

Get A Project Area

Finally, it helps to have a dedicated area to hold process meetings. A small conference room is ideal but a corner of an office or a whiteboard in a corridor can suffice. If you have some kind of permanent project area, it sends a message to the whole organization that this is a serious effort.


  • Treat it like a proper project
  • Make the case for change before you even begin.
  • Make sure you have the bosses support
  • Choose a simple process first time through
  • Find a place for a permanent project area

Taking care to get these things will tee you up for a successful process improvement effort.

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