First Step in Improving a Process

It was a while ago but I remember when one of our clients came to us and said,

“Something either has to change or we’re shutting down the operation”

Now when things get to the point that someone is ready to throw in the towel on a physical production outfit things are bad.

The first thing I was impressed with is that this business owner recognized that he had an operational problem.

Most companies aren’t that willing to admit that the problem lies within.

The second thing was that he was willing to pay someone to fix it.


So in walked in the Process Experts.


Now if you’re a smart client you will do what our client did. He asked, “What is the first thing you do in fixing this problem?”

Valid question right?

For most process improvement experts it’s almost like we know the answer intuitively, so you’re amazed that someone would NOT know the answer.


All problems begin with this step, so if you’re used to solving problems in your life effectively then you’ll know where to start.

The challenge is most people don’t solve problems, they just put a bandage on them and move on.

We tend to solve the symptoms and not the problem itself.


If you don’t know where you’re starting you’re never going to know if you’ve made progress or not.

So Step 1 is – You must have a baseline.


What’s your starting point.

To the client they are only telling you everything is a MESS

How do you quantify “a Mess”

The engineer in me hates when someone comes and tells me that service is really bad everywhere, or we have ALOT of dropped calls,

or we have TONS of rework!

Here’s what I need from you if you want me to help you.

I need to know how many widgets you make a day.

Then I need to know how many of those widgets need to be redone.

That’s my baseline.

So if your network has 1,000,000 calls an hour and you have 3 dropped calls in that hour – then your definition of ALOT is drastically OFF!

So it’s not rocket science!

To start to improve on something you need to know where you’re at!

And you need to be able to quantify it.

This client came with an operations problem, but he kept saying to us was that his company isn’t liquid.

So maybe he’s trying to solve the problem before properly identifying it.

Yes it is true, everything that we DO in our business affects our financials but you need to decide what the problem is first.

So then he insists, “It’s the liquidity” “We have to borrow money every month to stay a float”

Well we’re not accountants but sounds like a CASH FLOW problem.

So here’s our first step – we look at the past five years of their financials and we start to pull out some ratios ……..

……. in order to get a baseline!

You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going!


So just to recap – What’s the first step to process improvement?

Finding Your Baseline

Ready to start you own Process Improvement project?

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