Facilitate Continuous Improvement sample essay
Assessment Activity 1
1. You work for an organisation that does not actively encourage its employees to participate in decision-making processes, and to assume responsibility and exercise initiative as appropriate. What would you say to convince the organisation’s management that they should actively encourage employees to assume responsibility and initiative? Write a transcript of what you would say.
“Although not encouraged, recently I decided to let our ICT Support Specialist head up the roll out of our new Antivirus solution. I presented him with the project and advised that he will be managing it and will need to source the resources required and also the process. The only information I provided was a deadline of 4 weeks to complete the project/rollout
Firstly the feedback I got from the Support Specialist was incredibly positive. He was excited to run his own project and make his own decisions on how to complete it. It brought out a different side to an employee whom sometimes finds it hard to stay motivated. The project is in its final stages now and has ran very smoothly and is well ahead of schedule.
I believe encouraging employees to make their own decisions does boost initiative and this is one example of how extra responsibility and the opportunity for a non-management employee to work autonomously brings in very positive results.
This is something I would like to encourage to my department more often as I believe I can get excellent outcomes on upcoming projects.
2. Do you consider group decision-making to be a valuable tool that will aid in encouraging employees to participate in decision-making processes, and to assume responsibility and exercise initiative? Explain.
I strongly believe any decision making process privileges that one can grant to employees can be very beneficial as stated above in the example. This shows trust in employees, and I believe giving employees extra responsibilities can have a very positive effect. In a group decision making environment, this also promotes team work. Having a department making decisions together is a great way to encourage this.
Assessment Activity 2
1. Your organisation has changed the way it accepts payments from customers/clients to make the process easier for clients/customers. What would you do to ensure that the organisations continuous improvement processes are communicated to all stakeholders?
I believe this is something the whole organisation should be aware of, this way any client facing employees can better explain this to customers/clients in the event questions or queries are raised.
Stakeholders would include clients/customers so I believe a communication in the form of a letter/email should be sent out to all the client base explaining how the new payment process works and how it will benefit them. The most important part is to promote it as a positive change for the client/customers.
Assessment Activity 3
1. Define sustainability and outline why organisations should develop workplace sustainability policies. Sustainability in a business sense is the management the impact the organisation has in it’s environment. The impact can cover areas that not only include the “environment” but also the staff, client base and even the finances of the organisation.
Developing Sustainability policies is very important in a number of ways. It can be promoted by the organisation that they follow this policy in order to achieve a smaller carbon footprint, however at the same time this could be saving the organisation money. For example, the organisation decides to implement double sided printing, now this is reducing paper usage which is fantastic to the environment, however it is also reducing the amount of paper the organisation is purchasing, therefor reducing expenditure.
2. Research environmental management issues for the workplace and state why these issues should be taken into consideration when planning and managing an organisation’s operations. The main issue as with most organisations is their impact to the environment and their footprint. This can effect a number of areas within the organisation, including reputation to their clients/customers, general publics views/opinions, employees and even the companies finances. In an office environment such as Status Industries. The main concerns are overuse of paper and printing products, lighting usage and power consumption. These can all be addressed. See table on next page how Status Industries has engaged these issues with policies.
Over Usage of Paper in printing
Environment, Cost of Paper, Paper Wastage
Double Sided Printing forced on all Xerox devices within organisation
Dramatic reduction in paper usage. Cost of paper saved.
Colour Printing Usage in office
High usage of colour toners where not needed, cost impact as colour prints more expensive than black and white. Force default Black and White printing. Requiring staff to have to select colour printing if they require it. All Staff email sent explaining cost of colour printing over black and white Black and White printing increased. Less colour toner usage. Cost savings.
Lighting currently on 24 hours a day. Expensive power bills and waste of electricity Timers installed on lights to switch off at 8pm every night and to be off over weekend periods Dramatic cost saving and less usage of power. Cost saving on replacing globes.
Computers and monitors switched on 24/7, wasted electricity usage, expensive electricity bills Email sent out by management detailing a new policy to switch off PC’s at night when finished. Exclusions from this are staff whom like Reduction in power. Reputation from general public boosted as windows are on main road and public can see Monitors are left on at night time.
Assessment Activity 6
You have been asked to develop strategies to ensure that systems and processes are used to monitor operational progress and to identify ways in which planning and operations could be improved. In particular, your organisation wants you to determine whether processes currently carried out by employees are as efficient as possible. How would you go about doing this? Firstly you could perform an audit of the current processes. Let’s look at a new employee process and how this is setup from at an IT viewpoint.
The current process below
Now there have been several flaws in this process. Mainly the communication breakdown with Human Resource and IT which has resulted in accounts not been created in time. There are ways to alter the current process and instil new procedures to ensure the process is more successful. The proposed changes are below: A timeframe of at least 10 days for Human Resource to allow for the completion of IT’s account creation and asset allocation (PC/Laptop, Mobile Phone) Accountability to one staff member in Human Resources to communicate with an IT staff member regarding any change to the process and vice versa. A written and ISO approved document on the procedure. This is from the beginning stages with HR to the finishing touches on the IT stages. This is to be given to all staff members in both departments and signed by each staff member. So it is on record as being understood by each employee in case further action/education/disciplinary discussion is required.
Assessment Activity 7
You have determined that adjustments should be made in your work team. Changes need to be made to the way customer complaints are recorded and dealt with. How would you go about communicating the need for change to strategies to relevant stakeholders? Relevant stakeholders internally are first and foremost the executive team, they are the ones that make the organisational impact decisions. Changing the way customer complaints are dealt with is something they will need to provide input for. Once they have approved the said solution this should be communicated in several forms to the customer base. This can be done by posting letters, emails and on the main page of a website. In the planning stages communicating three different alternative solutions to Executive Management would be a good first step. Explaining and selling the reasons why this should be changed.
The main goal in mind for making a change that effects customers, is to ensure it is a “better solution” A good example of this is a large organisation such as Telstra. They have a reputation for having less than satisfactory customer service via phone. Customers have complained about being transferred multiple times and not getting a solution. Telstra has made large steps to improve customer service and have introduced a “Chat” service. This is ideal for people who have a desk job and don’t have the time to be on a phone. You speak to one representative and can explain information a lot easier. This is a very positive step that other organisations in the industry have followed. Selling the vision to relevant stakeholders, explaining how it will benefit the customer base. Remembering please customers not only retains a base, it can increase reputation and perhaps even allow for expansion of customer base.
Assessment Activity 9
2. Give examples of aids/tools that can be used to document the data from a checklist Several graphs and tables can aid the recording of this data and also to report on the data collected. Such Graphs that could be used in this instance are Pie Graph to show the amount of a certain defect on a certain shift to compare where most of the errors are occurring Line Graph to show where the peak period of errors occur
Histograms to show similar to the above
Example of a Pie Graph for the above table
3. Why do graphs and charts provide a good representation of data? Graphs and charts provide a graphical view of the overall picture. As shown above in the Table of Data and also the Pie Graph. Straight away by looking at the Pie Graph you can see the trend. When analysing data Graphs are the best way to do this instead of tables. It can be a quick reference guide compared to sifting through a large amount of numbers. On the subject of trends. Line Graphs can show this better than most methods in some cases where using a line graph is applicable. For example. To see how many defects over a 24 hour period took place in a factory environment. Here you can see where defects dipped and were at a minimum and also peaked and showed a maximum. From this data you can easily see where pain points are in a situation and then provide a possible resolution.
Assessment Tool 2
1. How can an organisations continuous improvement processes be communicated to all stakeholders and how can individuals and teams be encouraged and supported to embrace it? Communicating change in any organisation is important. Stakeholders in certain situations depending on the scale of change could include almost every employee. Best practice is to have a seminar or training session to highlight the need for certain changes or continuous improvement.
For example if the organisation wants to be ISO accredited in a certain area, then it becomes vital for all employees to play a part. Explaining the positives the improvement will entail will certainly sell the vision.
2. Having made a decision about what to do to improve an organisations processes, what should you do to plan for the implementation of that change? A Project Plan is always a good start. This can outline the schedule and resources required, identify the tasks and objectives associated. Communication again is very important with any change, to ensure all of the organisation (if applicable) is aware of the change. The key thing to remember is, people don’t like change if they haven’t been advised.
3. Explain the difference between Feedback and feed forward control. Feed-Forward Control is a measure that regulates inputs. This can be resources such as human resource, financial and material. This is a proactive measure to allow management to prevent issues instead of having to resolve them later. This is known to be a time consuming exercise,
4. What processes might be used to ensure that team members are informed of outcomes of continuous improvement efforts? Why is this necessary and how will this contribute toward further improvements?
Reports can be sent to team members on a set time frame (monthly, quarterly) this could include data and graphs/tables. Graphs are a great way to visually see trends and also to gauge whether there has been improvement in a certain area. It also determines where there are possible issues. It allows the team to strategize where and how they can improve.
5. What is continuous improvement?
Continuous improvement is an infinite process to improve a service, product or process. Depending on the type of industry the organisation is in will determine what areas of will utilize this type of method. Let’s look at an IT department, who has an inbuilt database every employee uses for the day to day tasks. A prototype has been created of this software, and it is in production. However there will always be room for improvement for any software, so constant updating is done on the software, the applications team within the IT Department work each day on add-ons or improvements. What started out as version 1.00 has now turned into 2.34 in the space of 3 years.
6. What can you do to support improvements now and in the future? Improvement in an organisation comes with ideas from the team. This can be suggestions raised in meetings, feedback and communication. The only way to improve processes, products or services is to communicate with departments and key members of staff.
Having evidence in front of employees such as graphs is a great way to visually demonstrate where improvement is needed in certain areas. Concentrating on weak points in the organisation is the key to improvement.
Assessment Tool 3: Project
Continuous improvement is common in most organisations in some degree. This is an exercise that can cover a number of areas. Usually the three areas are as follows
Process in the context of continuous improvement can look at ways to improve the said process. Let’s look at the example of a crucial process in a majority of organisations. A login is required for every employee who starts with the company. This is for them to login to their desktop and perform day to day functions. The process is as follows.
The problem is with this process is communication is relied upon. There is no official area where data can be obtained. IT need to wait for HR to provide information, then HR have to wait for IT, The manager of a new employee has to wait for IT and HR. There has been several flaws with this. Improvement can be done is a number of ways.
1. Have a meeting with HR and IT to establish procedures and timeframes 2. Look at a more centralised system where details can be accessed.
It was later decided a shared calendar on Sharepoint with email alerts when entries are created to be sent to all HR and IT staff. HR would enter a new starter on this calendar, IT would see the details and create the account. They would then add the relevant login details to the calendar and notify the manager. This is seen as a better process, but one that can still be improved upon. There can be a period of trial over a set timeframe to see if it can be improved even further. Taking as much manual labour out of the equation will reduce the amount of errors, oversights etc. Now looking at service. Customer Service or Service Delivery (in an internal environment) is extremely important in any industry. Good customer service means happy clients, more clients which leads to a successful organisation.
Let’s look at the example of an ISP. They have 3 core call centre departments, a Sales, Billing and Technical Support area. How can we gauge what customers impressions are of the level of customer service? A good way is after a phone call to have a rating system where a customer can rate the level of service is received from 1-5. 5 being exceptional and 1 being appalling. This is the first step in continuous improvement in customer service. The survey could be on going or could be over a set period. Either way reporting could be sent on the results to managers/team leaders. There might be a number of trends identified. Staff with exceptional consistent ratings could be rewarded. Staff with lower or appalling ratings could be trained to improve their skill. Reporting for this survey could be time stamped, so graphs could be created when staff aren’t providing a good level of customer service.
You may see a trend like Monday being the worst performing day or Friday afternoon. Education, Training are a number ways to continue the improvement of customer service. As well as awards or rewards as stated above. The final area is products. If an organisation is in the business of developing and distributing products, their main concern with continuous improvement will be developing this product to ensure it is the best in their market. If in a mass production environment, quality control would be paramount to ensure product defects are at a minimum or non existent. Earlier in this document a graph was created showing defect levels over certain shifts.
This is a great way to isolate where improvement is needed. Why did a certain shift have so many defects? Is there something wrong with the team who is assigned to these shifts? This may involve further staff training, disciplinary action or new staff members involved. Sometimes it could be as simple as making a clearly defined process to get a product complete without issues. Let’s look at the example of Microsoft. They are the pioneers of operating systems. According to data for the years 2004 – 2009, Microsoft on average has covered around 90% of the market across the globe. (see graph on next page)
This is an extraordinary number and one that comes with pressure and responsibility to ensure its product is up to an elite standard. Microsoft will release Operating Systems every 4 years on average, however after the release they will continue to build on the operating system. Adding features, fixing bugs, improving the overall experience. Also it offers support to customers with forums such as Technet and the obvious customer support. The updating is the main part of continuous improvement. This builds towards the next version of the Operating System which in some cases not all, will be an absolute improvement over the predecessor. Example being Windows 8, they have received overwhelming feedback that consumers are not favourable of the start menu being removed.
They listened and implemented a start menu of some description in Windows 8.1 and it will return in Windows 10. Risk Management comes into play with most decisions or implementation of a new process. With the three examples shown above a Risk Management assessment of some degree/scale would be included. For the example. Microsoft would need to investigate whether continuing support for an operating system would be viable. They will usually release a statement to the public explaining how long their support and updates will be created for Operating System. Microsoft also would have weighed the pro’s and cons for implementing a start menu feature into 8.1. Customer satisfaction is a high priority, however if it isn’t feasible it would be a risk to implement it. As you’re using resources and time to implement something rather major. Wouldn’t this be better spent developing on the next version.
How does continuous improvement affect employees? This question is very important. As employees are a major part of how well an organisation succeeds. An example of this would be an entrepreneurial firm which is small. Employees are driven to succeed because a sense of ownership due to it being only around 20 staff members, each is aware of their responsibilities and are directly accountable for certain roles. However the firm’s hierarchy believe the best way moving forward is to grow. As the growth takes place the sense of ownership has decreased. The culture will understandably change. Therefor it is incredibly important in the early stages prior to making major changes such as growth, that the organisation creates a culture that values accountability and to provide for accountability in organizational design. Communication in a small company will be different to a larger one. There would be little need for formal communication and any sort of reporting as they are all in the same small location.
They also understand what is important to communicate due to the scale of workload. The change here as it grows would need to be subtle. Explaining to current staff the need/requirement to implement different ways we must communicate. It is logistically going to be impossible to have a general talk with another colleague about something critical when they are in the East coast of the United States and you are based at Head Office in Sydney Australia. If this is educated earlier, it will provide a better understanding from long standing employees on how it will benefit the organisation, this once again comes back to the culture created. The employee will see this will a positive for the organisation. Attitude towards change can vary dependent on factors such as the average age and tenure with the organisation as well. Why do organisations feel the need to incorporate continuous improvement sometimes is dependent on the type of industry.
The pressures of certain industries almost forces organisation to implement continuous improvement. The Business Environment refers to the factors that affect an organisation’s ability to be competitive in their market. Kodak for example, were a leader in photographic/camera film. However the environment changed around them dramatically in recent years with digital photography taking over the market. Film was no longer the medium used. It saw a decline in revenue ($14.5bn in 1995 to $2.35bn in 2013) A lot of companies would not of survived something this dramatic. Kodak revolutionised and changed their way of thinking.
Kodak had to shrink in size and effectively start again, go back to basics. It kept the best minds they had to brainstorm how to continue. Kodak is now a leader in photo print paper, packaging, commercial film and speciality chemicals. Although Kodak isn’t a good example of “improvement” there is an argument for continuity. Not many companies have survived when hit with a change of the scale photography went through over 10 years ago. It is a credit to Kodak they were able to adapt to change and strive to succeed with improvement to the way they work in their industry.
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