We are often asked, “What types of businesses need continuous improvement software?” Our typical answer is that businesses in every industry, including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, financial services, engineering, and even higher education, benefit from improvement management software. That is the case, but the industry labels are only one element of what drives organizations to embrace improvement technology. The need for improvement is industry agnostic, but certain business conditions are signs software support can have an enormous impact.
Improvement software should be high on your list of initiatives to consider if you recognize any of the following:
The organization has remote workers or multiple locations.
In the age of COVID-19, working from home is no longer a novelty. One of the most significant benefits of improvement software is that it makes it seamless for staff to contribute to improvement and collaboration from wherever they are. Practices like physical huddle boards don’t work well for distributed workforces, but leaders can effectively leverage them with improvement management software without the need for in-person encounters.
The organization has audacious long-term goals.
The key to achieving breakthrough, ambitious goals (usually in the three to five-year time frame) is strategic alignment. From the CEO to the front-line employees, every person must understand the objectives and know how their work supports the goals. Decisions about which improvements will be implemented must be made with the strategic objectives in mind. An improvement platform allows leaders to cascade goals down through the department, team, and individual levels. It also gives everyone insight into how much progress has been made.
The business operates with tight margins or stiff competition.
In organizations like manufacturing, where every penny counts, and someone is always standing by to provide a similar product or service to your customer, eliminating waste is the key to survival. Retail, construction, and software are other good examples. Improvement technology helps employees target wastes, including transportation, inventory, motion, over-processing, over-production, waiting, defects, and human potential. The ideal state is a production system in which every element adds value to the customer. Improvement software allows each team member to identify opportunities to improve daily and reduce waste.
The business is experiencing rapid growth.
Practices that work well for small organizations can quickly become ineffectual when the organization starts to grow. Improvement management software provides a platform to create consistency and alignment, no matter how big the organization evolves. The other advantage technology offers for growing businesses is that it provides a method to ensure that new employees are engaged in improvement.
There is a high cost of failure.
Often called “Highly Reliable Organizations (HROs),” there are organizations where defects risk more than a financial penalty. Healthcare, utilities, airlines, and the military are examples of organizations that must perform to a high standard, or people’s lives may be at risk. These organizations take extreme measures to avoid defects and to implement effective corrective action when they rarely occur. Quality improvement software streamlines preventative and corrective actions (CAPA), ensuring that systems and processes work as expected every time.
The organization is devoted to employee development.
The great thing about improvement software is that it allows every employee to be a leader. By documenting ideas for improvement and becoming engaged, employees can expand their problem-solving skills and try new things. With many improvements to manage, more people can be given a chance to lead a project or facilitate an improvement event. Another benefit is that leaders can broadcast successful improvement results and recognize people contributing to positive change.
The bottom line is that almost every organization can benefit from improvement software. If yours falls into one or more of these categories, you may find the need especially pressing.