What is Continuous and Continual Improvement

Continuous improvement and continual improvement are terms used interchangeably, and both efforts seek incremental improvement over a period or at once. According to ISO 9001, continual improvement refers to an organisation’s effort to improve its products and services frequently. It’s a process that involves continuous planning, monitoring, implementing, and correcting problems that may arise.

In a continual improvement approach, there will be phases where there will be improvements and a break to evaluate the success, after which further improvements are made. Continuous improvement is an uninterrupted effort to improve processes, products, and services.

Quality Management Continual improvement Steps

The basic steps for continual improvement in quality management include:

  • Ensure that every department and individual’s primary objective is to improve continually. It should also be implemented across your organisation’s products, services, systems, and processes.
  • Use the basic principles of continual improvement and breakthrough improvement in the organisation. You should also ensure that these principles are applied across all levels in your organisation.
  • Conduct assessments and evaluations to detect areas requiring prospective improvement to ensure continual improvement criteria are followed.
  • Frequently improve the effectiveness and proficiency of all systems in the organisation.
  • Encourage proactive approaches to prevent problems or issues within systems from becoming more unmanageable.
  • Train every employee within the organisation about continuous improvement. Educate them about continual improvement tools and strategies like the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA), process re-engineering, problem-solving, and process innovation.
  • Create objectives and measures to track and guide improvement through monitoring and reporting aiming to obtain data on potential areas of improvement and the success of your organisation’s continual improvement efforts.
  • Recognise and acknowledge improvements to allow all employees within the company to see the results that arise from continual improvement. As a result, your employees will feel motivated to make more progress in the future.

Plan do check act

Plan-do-check-act refers to a cycle discovered by Walter Shewhart and popularised by Edward Deming. The approach aims to implement changes that lead to continuous improvements when repeated and followed.

Here is what PDCA entails:

  • Plan- In this stage, the company creates a plan for quality improvement. It should be specifically tailored to suit the organisational requirements.
  • Do- The organisation executes the plan and begins making changes to its systems, procedures, and processes.
  • Check- Here, monitoring the result of the improvements is done. This helps to determine the success of the continual improvement efforts quickly.
  • Act- If the improvements and changes are successful, the organisation adopts them permanently. If not, the company should go back to the “Do”  stage and try again.
Plan Do Check Act - What is Continuous and Continual Improvement | Best Practice Blog

How Best Practice Can Help

Need help adopting continuous improvement in your organisation. At Best Practice Biz, you can find training services to ensure you continuously improve your systems, processes, and products. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you find opportunities for improvement to achieve total quality management.

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