When making changes to business processes the expected result should always be stated prior to implementation. The objective of continuous improvement is to make small incremental changes to business processes so that the business operation improves over time. Monitoring the success of incremental change allows determination of anticipated impact and the opportunity to implement further improvements. Continuous improvement involves making changes, monitoring their impact on business operations and defining next steps. Following are steps to evaluating process changes:
- Assess Integration of the Change into Process Flow – An incremental change is complete when it has become a part of the normal business process. The level of integration is determined by the number of times the change is employed when the affected process is performed. Sometimes full integration is automatic when the process change is not optional. However, when those performing a process can accomplish work with or without the planned change integration may or may not be completed.
- Determine Whether Anticipated Results Were Realized – When a change has been integrated into process flow the impact of the change should be measured. If the change had the expected positive result then it was successful. If not – the change may need to be modified, additional changes may be needed or in some cases the change may need to be reversed.
- Identify Unanticipated Side Effects – Sometimes when a change is implemented there may be side effects that weren’t identified before the change was put into effect. The side effect may be an unanticipated benefit in which case the change had a greater than expected impact. If the side effect was negative additional changes may be required to mitigate its impact or if severe the original change may need to be reversed.
- Determine Status of Implementation – If the change has been fully implemented, results have been realized and no negative side effects remain then the change has been fully absorbed into the process. If the change hasn’t been fully implemented it may be necessary to define steps required to achieve full implementation.