Friday, 31 July 2015

Preparing for a Process Improvement Event

Why is it important?

The majority of our projects are run via Process Improvement Events, usually lasting between three and five days. It is important that PIU and the Project Team are as prepared as possible prior to the event to allow us to fully understand the process and make changes during the week. Without first collecting the data, speaking to people that understand the process and its limitations and the customers of the process in order to specify the value, it is difficult to design a new and improved process.

  • Briefing the Project Team - We like to ensure that we meet and talk to each project team member prior to the event for a number of reasons. Firstly it is important to understand their involvement in the process and their views on the current problems and possible solutions. It is also important that we ensure that each team member knows what to expect during and after the Event. Team members also usually help us with our data collection and this allows us an important opportunity to discuss this.
  • Project Team Training - We deliver a short training session to the project team prior to the event, covering techniques that they will be using during the week, including problems solving, process mapping, identifying value and waste and an overview of Lean.
  • Interviews - we conduct short (30 minute) interviews with different people from across the whole process. We have found from past experience that it is usually more effective to keep the project team to no more than 12 people, otherwise it can turn into crowd control. This often means that all the people involved in the process are not present during the event, possibly leading to missed opportunities for improvement and problems with the current process to be missed and not improved. PIU therefore make sure that we speak to individuals that are not on the project team but have an interest in the improvements and experience of the process.    
  • Data - Data collection is extremely important, not only does it help us to understand the current process and what a new process needs to achieve, it also allows us to compare the process pre-improvement and post-improvement. Using this comparison helps us to understand whether the changes have been effective and what further work or adjustments might be needed.
  • Briefing the Sponsor/Sponsor agreement - The project sponsor is not normally present at the whole event, however they have given the authority to the project team to make the changes needed. It is therefore important to keep the project sponsor updated on any findings from our data collection and interviews as this will inform some of the improvements. We also arrange for the sponsor to open the Event, reassuring the project team of the importance of this process review and the authority they have given the team to make changes. The project sponsor is then invited to attend a presentation at the end of the event where the project team present the improvements they have made and outline any help they may need for the sponsor during the implementation phase.
Catering - As we are asking for so much or a project teams time during the event, we make sure that this is at least partly compensated by drinks and food. Gillian plans and orders different and interesting lunches for over the week and Rachel and Dave always bake.

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