Step 14: Standardizing A Process

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Standardizing a process means initiating the documentation changes involving procedures, instructions, manuals, and other related documentation associated with the process. Training is developed and provided to make sure everyone is using the new standard process. 

In this step of the quality improvement process, you and your team need to make some important decisions around the process.

First, you must decide whether or not to implement the piloted process change on a full-scale basis. To make this decision, you should answer the following:

  • Is the process stable?
  • Is the process capable?
  • Do the results satisfy customers?
  • Do you have the authority to make the change?

If the answers are yes, the changed process can be installed as the new standard process.

Second decision - what to do next. Even when everything is in place for fully implementing the changed process, you and the team still have to choose between two courses of action: 

1) Identifying possibilities for making further process changes. Assuming that resources are available and approval given, you may choose to continue trying to improve the process by re-entering quality improvement cycle and plan another process change (Step 9)

And 2) Standardizing the process without further efforts to improve it. If this decision is made, you and the team are still involved—documenting the changes, monitoring process performance, and institutionalizing the process improvement.

Quality Improvement Process - Standardizing A Process

Standardizing A Process

You should continue to use the data collection plan previously developed  but you may consider reducing the frequency of data collection by the staff if appropriate. The point is, enough data must be collected to enable the ongoing monitoring of the performance of the process.

You must periodically assess whether the process remains stable and capable. To do this, continue to enter data into a control chart or run chart and histogram developed previously in the quality improvement process.

Whichever course of action you decide to pursue, you should complete one last task: documenting the lessons learned during the quality improvement effort and making the information available to others. 

And only if appropriate, consider reducing the frequency of data collection by the process workers. 

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

From Standardizing a Process to Quality Improvement

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