Continuous improvement is any action that leads to continual improvement over time and is a crucial element of a successful business strategy.
Continuous improvement is something that happens regularly, continually, and is generally expected of organizations with a small staff and few resources.
It is simple to instill and the benefits can be huge for the organization and the individuals.
Benefits of continuous improvement
First, continuous improvement brings change.
Constant change is difficult and takes a lot of effort but it also brings constant improvement, which results in success.
This might be challenging for some but we have some tips to make this easier for you.
Set long-term goals and include action steps. It is important to create goals that span a period of time.
Set a timeframe and weekly, monthly, yearly or yearly goals to try to keep your goals alive and achievable.
Share your process with everyone, ask for feedback, and encourage others to participate in the continuous improvement process.
It is also beneficial to share your improvement tools, methods, and processes with the rest of the company.
Develop KPIs. It is important to start with the most important and use them as the primary measurement of success.
Learn from the past. The key to continuous improvement is to take the learnings from the past and use them to take the next step and set a new goal for improvement.
Let’s take the best example: take your process which is excellent, but what if you found a better process that is also more efficient?
You should follow the new process so that the improvements are not incremental but smooth and natural.
You might be thinking that continuous improvement is a challenge for an SME, that there is no time to implement continuous improvement, but we have some tips for you which might make this easier for you.
How to integrate continuous improvement into your SME
Each improvement should be addressed systematically.
There is no point in spending months making a positive change if the results are subtle.
Implementing changes should be seen and felt by all employees so that they know you care about their experience.
Develop a culture of improvement. Employees must know that there is a process in place for continuous improvement.
Make sure you communicate this to your employees and even set targets and benchmarks for your employees.
Decide on the metrics. Set your KPIs so that they are actionable and align with the business goals and objectives.
How can you measure continuous improvement?
Observe and communicate
The first step in becoming a great continuous improvement company is to pay attention and then communicate your observations and ideas effectively.
What you observe will help you determine where you’re falling short. You can use that information to improve processes, ways of doing things, and any inconsistencies in how your business operates.
It’s important to be able to see the benefits of your current processes and methods.
By looking at the process and methods and learning from them, you’re setting yourself up to produce better, more consistent results in the future.
By paying attention, you’re looking for irregularities, and you’re fixing them so you can do things better in the future.
A quality survey tool can be very useful in all aspects of business and certainly when you’re looking to see how your business is running and what improvements you can make.
You can use SurveyMonkey to send out polls or surveys to your employees, which will give you an insight into how the business is performing and what can be improved.
Another benefit of using SurveyMonkey is that you can set up customized questions and then send out an automated email asking the employees to answer these questions.
This gives you an insight into what the staff thinks and creates a more meaningful conversation.
A survey tool like SurveyMonkey can also be a good way to establish an open forum for informal feedback.
You can create an anonymous survey, ask people what they think without their name, and then combine their feedback to help you make improvements to your business processes.
For example, you could ask the employees: “Do we sell more beer on Saturdays than on any other day?”
And you could send them this survey by email and ask them to answer it anonymously. Then you could compare the two weeks and see which day had more sales.
Or you could say: “How can we improve our sales process to make sure that everyone who shops with us has a great experience?”
By combining their responses to a survey with a handful of very specific ideas, you’ll be able to pinpoint ways to improve your business processes.
An easy way to do this is by using:
A SMART rating scale. You can use SurveyMonkey to create and use this simple, automated survey.
The Random Straw Test. This is a great way to collect feedback on something that isn’t a massive change but is still worthwhile to improve.
You simply ask the employees a question such as: “If it were your child’s birthday party, would you buy more pizza at the shop or beer?”
If the answer is yes to both questions, you know you’re getting quality feedback. If the answer is no, then you know you need to improve the beer sales process.
By using a combination of these two methods you’ll be able to pick up on processes, people, and ideas that can help you improve the overall customer experience.