Best Practices Consulting and Benefits
ITG uses a lean approach that was popularized in the 1950’s by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. He proposed that business processes should be analyzed and measured to identify sources of variations that cause products to deviate from ideal requirements. ITG uses this approach to help management define what improvements can be established to effectuate necessary changes to meet best practices, drive innovation, and continually improve processes and performance.
While each engagement is modified to fit, individual client needs, the core methodology is based on Deming’s use of the “Shewhart cycle”, the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA), which is a continuous process model that is a combination of iterative and defined activities to manage and control processes to achieve operational excellence through continual quality improvements. It is a simple and effective technique that provides a strong foundation for optimizing processes, delivering complex products or services, and managing projects.
The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle provides a simple and effective approach for managing change and ensuring that ideas are appropriately tested before committing them to full implementation. The PDCA method can be outlined as follows:
- Plan: Identify and analyze the work. Activities: define goals and objectives, identify requirements and risks, set a schedule with milestones, and document planned activities.
- Do: Develop and test a potential solution. Activities: implement planned activities, train personnel, collect measures, and maintain relevant records.
- Check: Measure how effective the test solution is and determine if the solution can be improved. Activities: conduct audits, assess performances, evaluate data, and analyze reports.
- Act: Implement the improved solution. Activities: prevent and correct issues, modify processes, retrain staff, implement improvements, and verify effectiveness.
In addition to understanding the philosophy behind this approach to quality and process management, it is important to understand how implementation is achieved.
The implementation methodology of Best Practices Consulting consists of four key phases.
- Planning & Discovery: This phase focuses on understanding the current state and planning to move to the desired state. Typical activities include a planning meeting, orientation training, performing a gap analysis, identifying a scope of the effort, producing a report of the findings which details strengths, weaknesses, and gaps between the actual state versus the planned (or desired) state. These findings are then used to develop a project plan which outlines tasks, timelines, and key milestones.
- Development: After the planning phase is complete, the process development begins. Typical activities include forming a steering committee which defines roles and responsibilities; identifying and defining policies, processes, plans, procedures, manuals, and work instructions, and documenting business processes, inputs, and outputs.
- Implementation: The implementation of the process includes introducing new processes; mentoring employees; setting objectives and measurements; training personnel on new requirements and monitoring their overall effectiveness.
- Validation: This is the final phase, which assesses the validity of the system. Standard tasks include audits; testing; assessing performance; evaluating data and analyzing reports.
Collectively, these four phases culminate in a convergence of your business processes and best practices, and eventually reinvent the “way things are done” across the organization within that scope.
In order to ensure the project is well managed, it is helpful to identify an executive sponsor for escalation points; to identify process owners; to demonstrate management commitment; to determine repositories and tools early on and to establish channels for communication. Lastly, it is our belief that the success of a project starts with how well it is planned, monitored for effectiveness, and communicated to staff.