Process efficiency to cut waste

Continually improve processes to reduce inefficiency and waste

Once you have identified the causes of waste and introduced quick changes to achieve immediate reductions, you should review each stage of your business process to prevent problems arising in the future. You should aim to have as few defects as possible for the least cost. Making products right first time is much easier, and much more efficient, than solving problems once they have arisen.

You can achieve long-term effectiveness by constant monitoring. You can also benefit from benchmarking your processes against similar businesses and adopting best practice throughout.

If you have a quality or environmental management system, or are considering setting one up, you should use this to help you continually improve your processes and products and reduce waste. See our guides on quality management standards and environmental management systems - the basics.

Using problem-solving processes such as 8 Disciplines (8-D) will help you identify, correct and eliminate the cause of quality problems. The 8-D process involves:

  • forming a team
  • describing the problem
  • containing the problem
  • identifying the root cause
  • formulating and verifying corrective actions
  • correcting the problem and confirming the effects
  • preventing the problem from reoccurring
  • congratulating the team

It is worth considering Six Sigma as a way of introducing and maintaining a continual improvement approach. See the page in this guide on using Six Sigma to reduce inefficiency and waste. You can also read an introduction to Six Sigma on the iSixSigma website. Lean methodology can also be used to make business-wide efficiency improvements which will reduce waste: see the page in this guide on how to use Lean methods to reduce inefficiency and waste.

You could also use statistical analysis techniques. For example, measuring the capability of a process can help you to see how well it is meeting quality targets and tolerances. Control charts enable you to maintain control once a process is operating satisfactorily.