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Article
Publication date: 17 April 2007

Djoko Setijono and Jens J. Dahlgaard

This paper presents a methodology to nominate and select improvement projects that are perceived as adding value to customers (both internal and external). The structure…

Abstract

This paper presents a methodology to nominate and select improvement projects that are perceived as adding value to customers (both internal and external). The structure of the methodology can be explained in three “stages”. First, the methodology suggests a new way of categorizing improvement opportunities, i.e. reactive‐proactive, to “upgrade” the little Q ‐ big Q categorisation. Then, it develops a roadmap that links performance indicators and improvement projects for both reactive and proactive improvements. Finally, it suggests an algorithm to select the improvement project, where the assessment of to what extent the nominated improvement projects add value to customers relies on the comparison between Overall Perceived Benefits (OPB) and Overall Perceived Efforts (OPE). The improvement project perceived as having the largest impact on adding value to customers receives the highest priority.

Details

Asian Journal on Quality, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1598-2688

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Article
Publication date: 19 February 2021

Caio Melo Almeida, Fernando Oliveira Araujo, Chrystyane Gerth Silveira Abreu and Haydee Maria Correia da Silveira Batista

The maintenance of process improvement programs within organizations is not an easy task. Some processes do not maintain the results achieved with the improvement project

Abstract

Purpose

The maintenance of process improvement programs within organizations is not an easy task. Some processes do not maintain the results achieved with the improvement project and again present low performance shortly after completion of the project. This paper aims to identify the socio-technical causes responsible for the loss of process performance after applying improvement projects, in order to support the mitigation of the problem.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic review of the literature was carried out, which allowed the selection of 28 articles. The empirical stage used the benchmarking technique, along a large Brazilian mining company with an international standard of production and quality. This organization has been using improvement projects for more than ten years.

Findings

The research complements the literature regarding the prioritization of the 26 identified failures and the identification of seven new failure factors and two resources. Findings in this study can be an inspiration for other organizations, considering the similarity of methodological aspects of improvement projects since internationally standardized methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen and 5S are used.

Originality/value

The research presented a proposal of guidelines that corroborate to the mitigation of loss of process performance after improvement project.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2019

Jiju Antony, Fabiane Letícia Lizarelli, Marcelo Machado Fernandes, Mary Dempsey, Attracta Brennan and Julie McFarlane

Process improvement initiatives, such as Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, typically have common characteristics that are carried through projects. Whilst a project’s…

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Abstract

Purpose

Process improvement initiatives, such as Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, typically have common characteristics that are carried through projects. Whilst a project’s performance is an important determinant of the successful implementation of continuous improvement (CI) initiatives, its failure can undermine the impact of any CI initiative on business performance. As a result, an understanding of the reasons of process improvement project failures is crucial. The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a pilot survey highlighting the most common reasons for process improvement project failures.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a pilot survey of 42 Brazilian manufacturing specialists who have been involved in process improvement projects. The participants of this survey were Six Sigma Master Black Belts, Black Belts, Green Belts and Six Sigma champions from manufacturing companies in Brazil. The survey questionnaire was piloted with five experts in the field in order to ensure that the questions were valid and technically sound.

Findings

The execution of Six Sigma projects in organizations results in a moderate rate of project failures. These failures can cost organizations several millions of dollars especially within the context of larger organizations. The main reasons for project failure, as cited by the specialists include: resistance to change, lack of commitment and support from top management and incompetent teams.

Research limitations/implications

The authors report the findings from a pilot survey having a limited sample size. Moreover, the data have been collected from one country and primarily from large manufacturing companies.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical study looking into the reasons for process improvement project failures. The authors argue that if the top reasons for such failures are understood, a framework can be developed in the future that can mitigate the chance of project failures during project execution. This could potentially lead to significant savings to the bottom-line of many organizations.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 36 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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Article
Publication date: 23 March 2010

Johan Thor, Bo Herrlin, Karin Wittlöv, John Øvretveit and Mats Brommels

The purpose of this paper is to examine the outcomes and evolution over a five‐year period of a Swedish university hospital quality improvement program in light of…

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1589

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the outcomes and evolution over a five‐year period of a Swedish university hospital quality improvement program in light of enduring uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of such programs in healthcare and how best to evaluate it.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes the form of a case study, using data collected as part of the program, including quality indicators from clinical improvement projects and participants' program evaluations.

Findings

Overall, 58 percent of the program's projects (39/67) demonstrated success. A greater proportion of projects led by female doctors demonstrated success (91 percent, n=11) than projects led by male doctors (51 percent, n=55). Facilitators at the hospital continuously adapted the improvement methods to the local context. A lack of dedicated time for improvement efforts was the participants' biggest difficulty. The dominant benefits included an increased ability to see the “bigger picture” and the improvements achieved for patients and employees.

Research limitations/implications

Quality measurement, which is important for conducting and evaluating improvement efforts, was weak with limited reliability. Nevertheless, the present study adds evidence about the effectiveness of healthcare improvement programs. Gender differences in improvement team leadership merit further study. Improvement program evaluation should assess the extent to which improvement methods are locally adapted and applied.

Originality/value

This case study reports the outcomes of all improvement projects undertaken in one healthcare organization over a five‐year period and provides in‐depth insight into an improvement program's changeable nature.

Details

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0952-6862

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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2012

Joran Lokkerbol, Ronald Does, Jeroen de Mast and Marit Schoonhoven

The purpose of this paper is to create actionable knowledge, thereby supporting and stimulating practitioners to improve processes in the financial services sector.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to create actionable knowledge, thereby supporting and stimulating practitioners to improve processes in the financial services sector.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a case base of improvement projects in financial service organizations. The data consist of 181 improvement projects of processes in 14 financial service organizations executed between 2004 and 2010. Following the case‐based reasoning approach, based on retrospective analysis of the documentation of these improvement projects, this paper aims to structure this knowledge in a way that supports practitioners in defining improvement projects in their own organizations.

Findings

Identification of eight generic project definition templates, along with their critical to quality flowdowns and operational definitions. An overview of the distribution of improvement projects of each generic template over different departments and the average benefit per project for each department. The generic templates give people with knowledge about the process under improvement the ability to use their knowledge effectively in the form of an improvement project.

Originality/value

Due to increasing international competition, financial service organizations must continuously improve in order to secure a competitive advantage. This paper turns continuous improvement from an abstract concept into something tangible and achievable, by giving practitioners with local knowledge tried and tested templates to identify promising themes for process improvement, and to make effective project definitions.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 29 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Manuel F. Suárez-Barraza and José Á. Miguel-Dávila

Despite the abundant literature in the private sector, a significant gap was detected in the public sector where there were only a few academic efforts to appraise or…

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1835

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the abundant literature in the private sector, a significant gap was detected in the public sector where there were only a few academic efforts to appraise or assess the implementation of the Japanese approach. The likely reason for this lack of literature is the low implementation of Kaizen that has been evidenced over the years in the public sector. Public organizations have a large number of recommendations at their disposal which are vague, abstract and even contradictory. Accordingly, the assessment of the implementation of Kaizen represents a theoretical gap, the filling of which is both necessary and vital to the body of knowledge that represents the application of continuous improvement in a public setting. Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to evaluate the design, management and implementation of Kaizen projects in local governments through the analysis and comparison of empirical data with regard to a theoretical conceptual scheme found in the literature.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study was conducted using a case study strategy. The case studies were conducted in three Town Halls (two in Spain and one in Mexico) with active and sustained implementation of Kaizen projects. It was verified throughout that the selected cases applied Kaizen projects for at least five years in their work processes and public services.

Findings

As a result of the empirical work the authors proposed a new specific and individualized framework for the public sector called: “Kaizen projects conceptual schemes (KPCS), based on the cycle Plan-Do-Check-Act in order to form a theoretical and practical guide that can serve as a base for local governments seeking to implement Kaizen in their management.

Research limitations/implications

The study focussed on three Town Halls (two Spanish and one Mexican), so is not possible to generalize the results.

Practical implications

El KPCS may represent an instrument of evaluation, management, development and improvement to any Kaizen effort initiated in the public sector.

Social implications

The study focussed on public service.

Originality/value

As far as the authors are aware, this is one of the first paper to propose a framework of Kaizen in public organizations within both academic and practitioner ambits.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1994

M. Barad and B. Kayis

Remarkable improvements in results achieved during the past decade bysome US manufacturing companies show the crucial role played in thesecompanies by quality teams which…

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480

Abstract

Remarkable improvements in results achieved during the past decade by some US manufacturing companies show the crucial role played in these companies by quality teams which we can call improvement support systems (ISS). The team infrastructure is modelled here in terms of a three‐stage sequential process with simple measures to evaluate the infrastructure elements. The approach is applied to study six Australian companies on their way to becoming continuous improvement systems. The findings expose different levels and patterns of team infrastructure. The enterprises differ in the context of their training models, the extent of autonomy of the teams as well as in the scope of the employees′ participation on teams. Considers the challenge for management finding the right extent to which monitoring and control should be applied to improvement teams as well as avoiding process stagnation. Suggests that the latter can be realized by extending active participation of employees, systematic generation of new improvement topics (eventually through splitting and continuation of old ones) as well as by continuous upgrading of training. A steady output flow of successfully finished projects can be considered evidence of an active (as opposed to a stagnant) improvement system.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 3 June 2021

Nikolaos A. Panayiotou, Konstantinos E. Stergiou and Nikolaos Panagiotou

The purpose of this paper is the implementation of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in a manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in Greece in order to understand the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is the implementation of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in a manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in Greece in order to understand the contribution of LSS in its process improvement and to identify the parameters playing a crucial role in LSS adoption by SMEs. The ability to achieve high-effect improvements without cost investment is also examined to cope with low investment margin that is a characteristic of SMEs.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study is based on the combination of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) phases with the Yin's method for case studies for a complete and efficient implementation and presentation of the project.

Findings

The analysis of this case study revealed that by accomplishing specific critical success factors for the fulfillment of the LSS project, the company attained important benefits by utilizing only the working hours of employees. It was also found that the improvements of LSS projects can be measured using other metrics which can indirectly be translated into monetary terms.

Practical implications

The paper can be a useful guide of how SMEs can achieve high-impact improvements with low or no investment cost utilizing LSS initiatives in small-scale projects.

Originality/value

According to the literature, there is a need for more case studies concerning LSS implementation in SMEs. Examples of how low-cost/high-effect improvement initiatives can be implemented have not been adequately presented before. The assessment of the impact of improvement initiatives with non-monetary measures is also innovative.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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Article
Publication date: 4 July 2018

Janaina Mascarenhas Hornos da Costa, Creusa Sayuri Tahara Amaral, Sânia da Costa Fernandes and Henrique Rozenfeld

The purpose of this paper is to propose and describe a method that uses recurrent problems to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the diagnosis of new product…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose and describe a method that uses recurrent problems to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the diagnosis of new product development (NPD) processes and supports the identification of improvement opportunities. The proposed method, called Diagile, is based on recurrent current reality trees (CRTs) and is a new way of building CRTs that includes best project management practices, and the identification and prioritization of improvement opportunities. To support the execution of the method, recurrent problems were identified and a computational tool to aid the diagnosis, a database of improvement opportunities and an automated spreadsheet to prioritize improvement projects were developed.

Design/methodology/approach

The proposed method was evaluated through a controlled experiment at a multinational manufacturer of office supplies.

Findings

The results achieved confirm that the use of the Diagile method increases the diagnostic efficiency and effectiveness when compared to diagnoses performed by the traditional CRT method.

Research limitations/implications

The validity of the method must be tested on a larger scale, since this work involved only one controlled experiment for this purpose. The experiment involved the participation of postgraduate research assistants, who cannot be considered specialists in the diagnosis of NPD. One could question whether the method will be as helpful for proficient users as well. The authors did not have proficient users available to run the experiment. However, the authors believe that such a specialist would save time in carrying out a diagnosis with Diagile, and also be more effective in validating the diagnosis. However, this assumption could not be tested here and can therefore be considered a limiting factor of the experiment. Nevertheless, the positive results of the evaluations of the companies and users of the two case studies corroborate the statement that the objective of this work was attained.

Practical implications

The greater efficiency and effectiveness provided by the proposed Diagile method was also evident in the identification and prioritization of improvement opportunities. The experimental group drew up a more relevant and coherent list of improvement projects than the control group, and provided documentation for these projects in the form of project charts. The authors believe these results can be of a great impact if implemented by practitioners.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a new way to perform diagnostic of NPD process. In particular, this process is well known to be highly strategic, nevertheless, normally excluded out of improvement initiatives because of its complexity. The diagnostic method proposed is a powerful tool to assist practitioners finding systemic improvement opportunities, expanding the assessment to all dimensions of a business process, e.g. people, technology and process activities.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Marc Antoni, Lars Nilsson‐Witell and Jens J. Dahlgaard

Product development projects can be utilized to create not only new products or services but also competitively important capabilities on how to work with product…

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1785

Abstract

Purpose

Product development projects can be utilized to create not only new products or services but also competitively important capabilities on how to work with product development. The resulting capabilities can be, and often are, as important as the product itself. Although there is potential for an organization to improve product development performance, most organizations can learn even more from their development experiences. A reliance on post‐project reviews to share knowledge across projects is doomed to fail, since it usually is of low priority and does not capture the complexity of development projects. The aim of this research is to investigate what organizations can do to reduce the effect of losing valuable experience gained in product development projects.

Design/methodology/approach

A multiple case study approach, using both qualitative and quantitative data, is used to perform a study of two high‐tech product development organizations with respect to their inter‐project improvement activities. A framework concerning inter‐project improvement is presented, containing concepts such as levels of learning, improvement content, and axes of improvement.

Findings

To avoid losing valuable experience, an organization should use multiple strategies to share knowledge across projects. Examples of successful strategies are to use a well‐established product development process, professional full‐time project managers as well as modularization of the product.

Originality/value

Although research on organizational learning in product development has increased significantly during the last few years, this research contributes to a deeper understanding of inter‐project improvement by combining perspectives from quality management, organizational learning, and knowledge management.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 22 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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