The Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. It’s is a six-step systematic approach to plan, sequence and implement improvement efforts using data and elaborates on the Shewhart Cycle (Act, Plan, Do, Study). The CIP provides a common language and methodology which enables understanding the improvement process. The CIP always links back to each organization’s own goals and priorities.
Continuous improvement is the act of continually looking to improve upon a process, product, or service through small incremental steps.
Why Use a Continuous Improvement Process:
Implementing a Continuous Improvement Process in an organization should be standard practice now. Studies have shown the main benefits of a CIP are:
- Increase productivity,
- Better teamwork and morale,
- Greater agility,
- Less waste,
- More efficiency
- Increase in profit.
The six (6) steps of the Continuous Improvement Process are:
- Identify Improvement Opportunity: Select the appropriate process for improvement.
- Evaluate Process:
- Select a challenge/problem
- Analyze: Identify and verify the root cause(s).
- Take Action: Plan and implement actions that correct the root cause(s).
- Study Results: Confirm the actions taken to achieve the target.
- Standardize Solution: Ensure the improved level of performance is maintained.
- Plan for the Future:
- Plan what is to be done with any remaining problems
- Evaluate the team’s effectiveness Set a target for improvement
The Best Time to Start a Continuous Improvement Process
There is no bad time to start using plan a continuous improvement process but the sooner the better. Below is a list of the times I believe a CIP should be implemented:
- Beginning of a new project
- Development of processes and procedures
- Developing a new or improved product, or service
- Planning data collection and analysis
- Implementing any change to a process
- Whenever a failure occurs
Tools that can be used to help with the Continual Improvement Process are:
- Force Field Analysis
- Affinity Diagram
- Delphi Technique
- Pareto Chart
- Cause and Effect Diagram
- Scatter Diagram
- Check Sheet
- Control Chart
- Process Capability Index and Ratio
- ISO 14000
AcqLinks and References:
-  Defense AT&L: Continuous Process Improvement within the DoD by David Pearson July 2007
- DoD Directive 5010.42 “DoD-Wide Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Lean Six Sigma (LSS)” – 15 May 2008
- Air Force Instruction 38-401 “Continuous Improvement Process” – Aug 2019
- Manual: DCMA Manual 4502-05 Continuous Process Improvement – Dec 2020
- Website: DoD Chief Management Office: Continuous Improvement Process