Productivity

How to Create a Process Improvement Plan Template [+ Examples of Templates That Work]

This is your ultimate guide to process improvement plan templates. Use it to understand and create process improvement plans for your team and company. 

Introduction

A process improvement plan template is a key process document in product/service adoption and change management.

Picture this: you're an Ops team leader and want to implement a new tech or idea, but identify the existing process implementation document is outdated. What happens? 

This is where a process improvement plan template comes in to help you analyze, review the process and identify areas of improvement. A Process improvement plan is a long-term initiative to improve an organization's work, processes and product/service adoption.

So, without much ado, if you're an Ops leader looking to build your process improvement plan, follow the steps we'll provide in this guide. 

What is process improvement?

Process improvement encompasses identifying, analyzing/reviewing and improving existing ineffective business processes to optimize performance or improve quality. It’s a type of process documentation that focuses on process improvement. To customers, it helps improve the user experience or quick process adoption.

Process improvement is known by other names like business process improvement, continuous process improvement, quality improvement or process re-engineering.

Regardless of the name, process improvement seeks to minimize errors, improve process quality, reduce waste and streamline efficiency in different business categories. 

What is a process improvement plan?

In general, a process improvement plan is a business document designed with steps to define how to enhance the efficiency of processes/procedures. The document can also be called a business improvement plan or quality improvement plan.

For example, this Zendesk Onboarding Guide helps you accurately adopt the Zendesk platform as part of your new process implementation plan.

Most process improvement plans are designed to be general to accommodate different functions in a business. And they are created with considerations of future developments hence called continuous improvement plans.

A process improvement plan is part of the overall business' project management plan. It guides the project manager or Ops leader and team in examining/reviewing the project processes to identify successful areas and those that need improvement.

What is a process improvement plan template? 

Once a business creates a process improvement plan, the document is throughout a project's life cycle and may be used across the business. This document is called a process improvement plan template.

A process improvement plan template spells out the steps used in process improvement. A typical process improvement plan template can have the following steps.

  • Define: Identifying the targeted process, operations, jobs and tasks to include in the plan.
  • Analyze: Breaking up the process/procedure/task into steps and identifying weak points that cause inefficiencies.
  • Review. Review the processes and steps to find out process improvement opportunities. 
  • Redesign: Change or re-engineer the processes' step-by-step guidance to eliminate inefficiencies.
  • Communicate and Implement: communicate the new process and start using it to improve product/service use or adoption.
  • Monitor: Verify that the new process is efficient and enhances the work. Some businesses may have a different quality improvement template for this purpose.

Different types of process improvement plans depend on the team, project, business, industry, etc. But all of them revolve around these items, which we'll explore in detail. This Scribe template to build processes easily can start you off.

Benefits of creating a process improvement plan

So, why's the process improvement plan important? Or what does it serve? 

A Process Improvement Plan (template) documents the steps in analyzing a process to improve it (identify and eliminate weaknesses). It helps prevent the risks of project management

Here are the key benefits of a process improvement plan.

  • Improved the company's overall operations efficiency. Improving a business's processes can improve its operations' efficiency. It removes wasted motion, unnecessary tasks, time-consuming components, errors and increases innovation, making processes more efficient.
  • Employee satisfaction. Inefficient processes are disruptive. Efficient processes, with a step-by-step template, make staff more engaged and improve their delivery by gaining accomplishment and general self-improvement at work.
  • Team communication and involvement. A functional process improvement plan involves team members' effort in design and implementation. This improves their overall job satisfaction and performance.
  • Agility: The tech and business landscapes are constantly changing. So, a process improvement plan enables a company to handle future disruption.
  • Customer service and satisfaction. Functional process improvement plans have both an internal and external focus. Externally, they help improve customer- or client-facing processes, ensuring customers are satisfied with the products/services of the business.
  • Safety. In risky workplaces, efficient process improvement plans reduce accidents, stress and repetitive injuries.
  • Innovation. Breaking down old processes into steps can lead to new ways to do things. This innovation can help the business improvement process and service delivery. 

Common types of process improvement plans

Process improvement is well-documented in many businesses. There are several process improvement techniques businesses can adopt, each aiming to help a business analyze processes, identify issues, fix them and monitor the success of changes. But each process improvement technique suits a different need. 

The common types or process improvement plans are:

Kaizen

Kaizen's process improvement plan focuses on continuous process improvement, emphasizing agile and lean practices. It focuses on improving efficiency, quality and productivity through small shifts in a company's daily work. It fosters an environment that prevents errors and mistakes and avoids punishing them. Kaizen is better applied with the 5S model, which stands for sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. This helps bring process consistency and standardization.

(Source)

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma process, developed by Motorola, focuses on improving business practices by pulling workers up through ranks classified by karate belts. They start work as green belts and learn their way up to a black belt. In Six Sigma, there are two ways to break down process improvements. 1)  DMAIC: define, measure, analyze, improve and control; and 2) DMADV: define, measure, analyze, design, and verify.

(Source)

Lean & Lean Six Sigma

Lean involves process improvement plans that focus on waste reduction by eliminating activities that don't add value to the process and end user. Traditionally, its manufacturing companies use Lean, but principles are applicable across all industries. The Lean steps are: Identify value, Map value stream, Create flow, Establish pull and Seek perfection. Lean Six Sigma is the hybrid of Lean and Six Sigma, helping businesses improve processes through the DMAIC plan while eliminating waste.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

The PDCA is a continuous change management or process improvement cycle established in the 1950s by W. Edwards Deming. It was first called the Deming Wheel but later changed to the obvious steps of Plan, Do, Check and Act.

  • Plan: Find the problem area and analyze it, then determine the appropriate solution.
  • Do: Implement or apply the solution you’ve found. Use data to support all decisions.
  • Check: Use data to analyze the solution’s impact and measure the difference based on business performance.
  • Act: Now implement the business improvement solution permanently.

The PDCA cycle is a continuous repeat and supports the organization’s theory of continuous improvement or continuous change. It’s a key application in the continuous improvement plan.

Cause and Effect Analysis

Born from Six Sigma, the Cause and Effect analysis involves a diagram used to identify problems in a process and fix problems. The method discovers process roadblocks (bottlenecks) and pinpoints why a process isn't working to help find a solution.

(Source)

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is an old process plan focusing on quality control, ensuring the highest possible quality for long-term customer success. It helps the entire business get on board with continuous process improvement by fostering a quality culture. Rather than focusing on steps, TQM uses principles to guide the business culture. The principles are:

  • Process-centric.
  • Customer-focused.
  • Full team integration.
  • Total employee involvement.
  • Data-driven decisions.
  • Continuous processes. 
  • Strategic and systemic.
  • Constant communication.

Process improvement plan template examples  

Here are 3 working examples of process improvement plans.

1. Standard operating procedure example 

Scribe is the ideal tool if your organization needs to improve SOPs to standardize workflows and increase consistency. Use these steps to implement process documentation.

2. Improves sales navigation 

Scribe process for Customer Onboarding can help businesses improve their LinkedIn Sales Navigator process.

3. Vermont education continuous improvement plan template

This template is used for continuous education improvement in Vermont. It's the state's standard procedure.

(Source: Vermont education agency)

4. Customer support process improvement plan

Process improvement plan to revise customer support process based on the PDCA concept.

(Source)

How to create a process improvement plan template

There are different steps involved in developing a process improvement plan template. They depend on your processes, business and goal.

Overall, the steps to write a process improvement plan are similar to other process documentation plans but with a keen focus on improvement.

 The following 8 steps are involved in developing a process improvement plan template.

Step 1. Define or map out the existing process

Once you've identified a process you want to improve, you will need to map it into visual steps to understand the process and its functions.

You can use a flowchart or diagram for mapping. 

Mapping the process will help you identify obsolete, irrelevant, vague areas that need improvement.

Step 2. Analyze the process and identify where issues lie

Scrutinize each step of the process you outlined in the mapping stage to see where the issues lie. Find issues like:

  • Roadblocks.
  • Bottlenecks.
  • Resource waste in a step.
  • Errors prone.
  • Miscommunication.
  • Activities that take too much time.
  • Resource underuse in a step.
  • Excessive delays.

Research each problem's origin or what causes it and highlight the regular steps where the problems occur. Root-cause analysis process improvement technique may be beneficial in this step.

Try and get feedback from customers and employees directly involved in the process. They can shed more light on issues and situations you may not be able to identify.

Step 3. Redesign the process & draft your plan 

With the problems affecting the process, you can plan to redesign the process while eliminating the problems. 

This step needs to involve the team to ensure that the problems in the old process don't creep into the new process. And, as you brainstorm the new process, draft it down step by step. You can use Scribe to document step-by-step processes. Learn how to do that in this guide: How to use Scribe to automate process documentation.

Together with the team, craft a new process — the template— free of the issues in question that ensures the process is efficient. 

List all tasks in the process. Think about the steps, the time required to carry out each step, who's involved (responsibility) and the potential risks. Reallocate resources that can be reallocated and include a communication approach, hierarchy and steps for better collaboration. 

Also, include automation where possible. For instance, process documentation doesn't have to be manual because you can use automation tools like Scribe. An example of automation is this Scribe, How to create an account in Salesforce, which can be shared with other sales team members rather than training each individual. 

Step 4. Create a process improvement implementation team

The next thing is to assign roles to each step in the process. This is the team that will put the new process into action. They should be people who are directly impacted by the process and changes and have the right skills to help implement the process. 

For example, if the process is in DevOps, the Ops manager and IT team can be part of the process team. Ensure each team member understands the new process.

You may create a training manual with ScribeHow and share it with the team for easy reference. 

Step 5. Create & implement plan

Once you've assigned roles and teams responsible for the new process, you'll also assign resources like time and more, then create the process implementation plan. 

Your plan is detailed and focused. The earlier process maps will clarify the process and reference its implementation. You can also add swim lanes to delineate individual roles and responsibilities.

You can make the process improvement plan visual. Use infographics, charts, screenshots and presentations to communicate various aspects surrounding the plan.

The implementation plan should list tasks against each team member, give a process timeline and outline deliverables. Each team member must know their outcome at the end of the process to understand what they're working towards.

Step 6. Communicate & implement the new process

Executing a new process is often the most challenging part of a process improvement plan. It's where you find out whether the process improvement is effective or not. If anything goes wrong, you'll start from the beginning. 

So, first, communicate the new plan to the team and the entire organization. Everyone needs to know the start of a process improvement. 

Ensure a detailed task and responsibility list for each step of the process. Also, include a timeline and assignments for team members involved. Finally, outline how you will measure the success of the new process, such as the time it takes to complete or the cost of the resources allocated.

Step 7. Monitor & adjust the process

A process improvement plan is also called a continuous improvement plan because improvement never stops. You must monitor the performance of the new process and results.

During monitoring, find out areas that need improvement, bottlenecks, roadblocks, resource wastes, etc., and adjust accordingly. 

Continuously improving the process ensures the efficiency of the process improvement plan cycle. 

Step 8. Customize the process improvement plan template 

Now you have a Business improvement plan template, customize it for different purposes. While this template was for Ops, you can transfer it to marketing and customize the processes to fit the marketing department's needs. Every department can use the process improvement plan template.

Create your process improvement plan with Scribe

Scribe is a versatile SOP-generating tool that captures your screen as you work and converts it into a step-by-step guide. You can use it to create your process improvement plan template. It's simple to use; just click the record button and carry out your process. 

You can generate a process improvement plan template with rich text and screenshots in seconds. It will also encourage collaboration, flexibility and usage of the document. Try it today.