Successful organizations have a focus on on-going improvement.

The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations. Meeting or exceeded customer expectations will be impossible without understanding their needs. Therefore customer values must be understood.

ISO 9000 defines the 7 Quality Management Principles. These are fundamental to a successful quality management system (QMS). Quality Management Principle 5 is Improvement, let’s take a look at what that means.


On-going improvement is essential for an organization to maintain current levels of performance, to react to changes in its internal and external conditions and to create new opportunities.

On-going improvement – Key benefits

Some potential key benefits are:

  • improved process performance, organizational capability and customer satisfaction;
  • enhanced focus on root cause investigation and determination, followed by prevention and
  • corrective actions;
  • enhanced ability to anticipate and react to internal and external risks and opportunities;
  • enhanced consideration of both incremental and breakthrough improvement;
  • improved use of learning for improvement;
  • enhanced drive for innovation.

What do we mean by on-going improvement?

Organisations can do this by taking the following actions:

  • promote establishment of improvement objectives at all levels of the organization;
  • educate and train people at all levels on how to apply basic tools and methodologies to achieve improvement objectives;
  • ensure people are competent to successfully promote and complete improvement projects;
  • develop and deploy processes to implement improvement projects throughout the organization;
  • track, review and audit the planning, implementation, completion and results of improvement projects;
  • integrate improvement consideration into development of new or modified products and services and processes;
  • recognize and acknowledge improvement

Let’s look at Process Management

Process management is based on the following:

  1. Relationship between standardisation, performance management and continual improvement.
  2. PDCA.
  3. Prioritisation of improvement activities and targets in line with organisational strategy and needs.
  4. The use of data and metrics in process improvement.

Process management is a group of activities for the planning and monitoring the performance of a business process.

The term usually refers to the management of business processes and/or manufacturing processes.

Process management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques and systems to define, visualize, measure, control, report and improve processes with the goal to meet customer requirements profitably.

The process approach incorporates the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and risk-based thinking.


Standardized work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tools. By documenting the current best practice, standardized work forms the baseline for kaizen or continuous on-going improvement. As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvements, and so on. Improving standardized work is a never-ending process.

Basically, standardized work consists of three elements:

  • Takt time, which is the rate at which products must be made in a process to meet customer demand.
  • The precise work sequence in which an operator performs tasks within takt time.
  • The standard inventory, including units in machines, required to keep the process operating smoothly.

Establishing standardized work relies on collecting and recording data on a few forms. These forms are used by engineers and front-line supervisors to design the process and by operators to make improvements in their own jobs. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use these forms and why it will be difficult to make your lean implementations “stick” without standardized work.

Why do we need standardised work?

  • It is an important part of the Lean philosophy
  • Provides the basis for continuous improvement
  • Helps maintain a safe working method
  • Enables us to produce the best product the same way every time by everybody
  • Helps capture and spread workplace knowledge and know how
  • Defines an effective and efficient work sequence

Performance Management

Organizational performance management is the process of making sure that your company resources are being properly used in pursuit of company goals. The concept of performance management is commonly applied to employee development.

The components or parts of an effective performance management system include:

  • Performance Planning (includes employee goal setting/objective setting)
  • Ongoing Performance Communication.
  • Data Gathering, Observation and Documentation.
  • Performance Appraisal Meetings.
  • Performance Diagnosis and Coaching.

Performance management is a shared understanding about how individuals contribute to an organization’s goals. An effective performance management and appraisals process focuses on aligning your workforce, building competencies, improving employee performance and development, and driving better business results.

Performance management is essentially a system used by any organization to ensure that specific goals are being met. … Effective performance management is as much an art as it is a process, and understanding the basics of it can help you boost your profits and reach company goals more effectively.

What is Continual On-going Improvement?

“Continual improvement is the constant re-assessment and elimination of waste within every product, process and system throughout a business”.

An on-going improvement process, is often called a continuous improvement process, is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once. Delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.

W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer of the field, saw it as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organisational goals. The fact that it can be called a management process does not mean that it needs to be executed by ‘management’; but rather merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and the design of the delivery process itself.

A broader definition is that of the CQI who defined “continuous improvement as a gradual never-ending change which is: ‘… focused on increasing the effectiveness and/or efficiency of an organisation to fulfil its policy and objectives. It is not limited to quality initiatives. Improvement in business strategy, business results, customer, employee and supplier relationships can be subject to continual improvement. Put simply, it means ‘getting better all the time’.

If you want to know more about the subject we cover these topics in our courses, namely: