Possibly one of the hardest things to do is make a selection of all the possible improvement projects that are possible for the company. Talks with quality and safety managers showed that this topic is pretty high on their list. A lot of you struggle with managing internal projects/initiatives and how to prioritize them. Prioritizing projects and knowing where to assign resources is more of an art than a science and the road to the result might not be linear. It is important to balance short-term gains with long-term impact.
Start with Data
The number one input to make a good call is having the data. It should be possible to find out where things go wrong and how much the financial implications are. It would be even better if there is data available on different root causes that caused the issues. All the data can be analyzed and ordered to be helpful in making the right decision on which improvement projects utilizes the resources the best.
When selecting projects, it is always good to look at perceived value but also to look critically at the time required implementing the improvement project. Some great criteria to look for are:
- Time required.
- Impact on the business.
- Impact for customers.
These can be applied in any particular order and should be in line with company goals. When there are already projects going on, a new high-impact project might not be the best choice.
The time needed to implement and verify the results is an important aspect when selecting the projects to work on. Of course, projects with a high financial benefit and a short time period are the gems but also most of the times are already finished.
Short-term improvement plans with a positive impact for the customers are even better. These will help boost customer satisfaction or customer loyalty, both of which are very important for the continuity of the company.
Internal process improvements are more important to streamline the internal process, which could result in a positive effect for the customers. They are essentially implemented to improve the operations. These projects can be hard to find resources for because not all the losses of time in the process are always crystal clear. Here, data is very important because the data will help in proving the importance of the changes. Also, these projects require some willingness to change by employees, which will lead to resistance.
Long Term ROI
When we look for more long-term improvements with a longer ROI it can be hard to find the required resources. These plans require a completely different approach. Due to the long-term impact on the company, it is good to align them with the company’s vision and make them strategic for the organization. This can be done regardless of the size of the company. These projects require significant buy-in from the company hence top management involvement is key in this.
Long-Term Impact on Product
Then there are the projects that have a long-term impact on the product or service the company produces. These projects will have major benefits over the long haul for customers and business. Most of the time the R&D department does these projects but they can also be initiated by quality when it comes to production improvement. However, a close collaboration between engineers and quality is very important. The drawback is the long development time which requires serious resources. A clear ROI is important in this case.
In the end, it all comes down to internal resources and how to deploy them. As long as decisions are based on data that has been collected by the company, they are backed with some sort of evidence. Of course you shouldn’t stare blind on the data because there could be opportunities that haven’t been part of the data collection until now.