Step 9: Plan a Process Change

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In this step of the quality improvement process a process change is planned by the team. After considering the possible root causes identified in the previous step of the process, Step 8, the team should pick one root cause to work on. 

You then develop a plan to implement a change in the process to reduce or eliminate the root cause. The major features of the plan may include changing the simplified flowchart created in Step 4 and making all of the preparations required to implement the change.


Quality Improvement Process - Planning a Process Change

Planning a Process Change

Planning


  • What steps in the process need to be changed, if any?
  • Are there any risks associated with the proposed change?
  • What will the change cost? The cost includes not only money, but time, number of people, materials used, and other factors.
  • What staff will be affected by the change?
  • Who is responsible for implementing the change?
  • What has to be done to implement the change?
  • Where will the change be implemented?
  • How will the implementation be controlled?
  • At what steps in the process will measurements be taken?
  • How will data be collected?
  • Is a small-scale test necessary prior to full implementation of the change?
  • How long will the test last?
  • What is the probability of success?
  • Is there a downside to the proposed change?

Once the quality improvement plan is formulated, you're ready to make the planned changes in the process, if empowered by the team charter to do so. Otherwise, the team presents the improvement plan to the process owner, or other individual who formed the team, to obtain approval to proceed.

Change Acceptance Stratagies


  • Explain why the change is necessary 
  • If there are risks, acknowledge them 
  • Show what you have done to minimize the risks 
  • Name the benefits that could result 
  • Seek questions and answer them 
  • Invite participation 
  • Avoid surprise 
  • Acknowledge the difficult areas 
  • Set standards 
  • Give a date for completion 
  • Tell what you want to accomplish 
  • What are the penalties for failure? 
  • What are the rewards for success? 
  • Contact informal leaders 
  • Praise 

Quality Improvement Process


Step 1: Select the process to be improved and establish a well-defined process improvement objective. The objective can be established by the team or come from management.

Step 2: Organize a team to improve the process. This involves selecting the “right” people to serve on the team; identifying the resources available for the improvement effort, such as people, time, money, and materials; setting reporting requirements; and determining the team’s level of authority. These elements should be formalized in a written charter.

Step 3: Define the current process using a flow chart. This will generate a step-by-step map of the activities, actions, and decisions which occur between the starting and stopping points of the process.

Step 4: Simplify the process by removing redundant or unnecessary activities. It's likely that people may be seeing the process on paper in its entirety for the first time from Step 3. This can be a real "eye-opener" which will prepare them to take the first steps in improving the process.

Step 5: Develop a plan for collecting data and collect baseline data if it's not already being collected. This baseline data will be used as a "yardstick" later in the quality improvement process. This begins the
evaluation of the process against the process improvement objective established in Step 1. The flowchart in Step 3 is used to help determine who should collect data and where in the process data should be collected.

Step 6: Assess whether the process is stable. Create a control chart or run chart out of the data collected in Step 5 to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the process. Future actions of the team are dictated by whether special cause variation is found in the process.

Step 7: Assess whether the process is capable. Create a histogram to
compare the data collected in Step 5 against the process improvement objective established in Step 1. Usually the process simplification actions in Step 4 are not enough to make the process capable of meeting the objective and the team will have to continue on to Step 8 in search of root causes. Even if the data indicate that the process is meeting the objective, the team should consider whether it is feasible to improve the process further before going on to Step 14.

Step 8: Identify the root causes which prevent the process from meeting the objective. Use a cause-and-effect diagram or brainstorming to generate possible reasons why the process fails to meet the desired objective.

Step 9: Develop a plan for implementing a process change based on the possible reasons for the process’s inability to meet the objective set for it. These root causes were identified in Step 8. The planned quality improvement involves revising the steps in the simplified flowchart created after changes were made in Step 4.

Step 10: Modify the data collection plan developed in Step 5, if necessary.

Step 11: Test the changed process and collect data.

Step 12: Assess whether the changed process is stable . Same as Step 6, use a control chart or run chart to determine process stability. If the process is stable, the team can move on to Step 13; if not, you should return the process to its former state and plan another change.

Step 13: Assess whether the change improved the process. Using the data collected in Step 11 and a histogram, the team determines whether the process is closer to meeting the process improvement objective established in Step 1. If the objective is met, the team can progress to Step 14; if not, the team must decide whether to keep or discard the change.

Step 14: Determine whether additional process improvements are feasible. The team is faced with this decision following process simplification in Step 7 and again after initiating an improvement in Steps 8 through 13. In Step 14, the team has the choice of embarking on continuous process improvement by reentering the model at Step 9, or simply monitoring the performance of the process until
further improvement is feasible.


14 Step Quality Improvement Roadmap

Quality Improvement Process Roadmap

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