Continuous improvement is the transformation of the way a company or a corporation does its business from a less competitive mode to a better or more competitive mode. It is s a process that involves adequate monitoring and control over the way operations are carried and calls for investments in the betterment of the key elements in the corporation. Such elements may include the machinery, manpower or the human resources, the guidelines on carrying out particular tasks and the materials that are utilized in carrying out these tasks. Continuous improvement does not focus on just one section of an organization but touches on all the departments or sectors that make up the organization (Times 100, p.1).
Such departments may include the information technology sector of the company, the customer care wing of the company, the financial department as well as the commercial segment. Other departments can also exist depending on the type of company. For example a steel handling company such as Corus Construction and Industrial has an engineering department that plays a vital role in the operations of the company and therefore such a department must be part of the continuous improvement programme.
Can improvement occur in all these departments at once? The answer to this question depends on the pace at which the change that is meant to bring about improvements is being implemented. Under the idea of continuous improvement, the change for the better in operations does not occur rapidly. It is gradual, and therefore it can involve all the departments or sections of the organization. Attention to details is paid as a way of ensuring that there will be no need to come back to mend broken fixes, an occurrence that is common in hurried performances. Who is involved in this business of continuous improvement?
The management of the organization initiates and directs the business of continuous improvement. However, the ultimate goal is not to continue loading their ideas on the rest of the workforce but to try to convince them that they too have a responsibility to ensure that the organization makes improvements in its operations and therefore achieves greater levels of efficiency. The focus is the elimination of aspects that make it impossible for the organization to achieve its peak production ability.
These capability limiting blocks are called wastes. They occur through such means as too much movement of workforce, the transportation of either the raw materials or the finished goods, too much production that ultimately leads to too much stock lying in the organization’s storage which leads to more costs in terms of caring for manufactured products that have no customers and the production of goods that do not meet the expected quality standards.
Low quality often leads to rejection of the finished products by the customer of the selling of the goods to customers at a low price, which hurts the finances of the company in the long run. It is therefore the responsibility of the management to come up with the continuous improvement vision and plan, elaborate its significance to the rest of the workforce and set up teams in the organization to assist in the instruction of all workers on how best to implement the plan (Times 100, p.2).
Corus Construction and Industrial is intending to develop a continuous improvement culture in its operations. The vision plan which is the adoption of the concept of flow will help develop this culture through the element of engagement, whereby continuous improvement coaches will be given the responsibility of training the rest of the workforce on how best to use their skills to make adjustments for better performance in their area of work. Concepts such as proper planning of the product to be processed, when it will be processed and the time it will take are part of the bigger concept of flow which is aimed at improving performance at Corus Construction & Industrial(Times 100 p.3).
The idea of engaging the workers by making them aware that it is their responsibility to better their areas of work will motivate them into owning the process which at the end of the day will make them easily transition to the new culture of continually assessing their operations so as to see whether there is anything they can do better. The management will also set a time plan for the implementation of the core parts of the concept so as to ensure that the system takes the new form within a reasonable period of time.
Corus Construction and Industrial has set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) whose aim is to help meet customer expectations. This is a shift from the traditional focus on the number of tones of steel rolled out. The KPIs concept will put more emphasis on both timing of the production as well as the quality. The timing referred to here is whereby the steel that has been requested by a certain customer within a particular time is produced within that time.
The result of this is the absence of late orders. It is the joy of the customer to get his or her order supplied within the time they have requested. Corus Construction & Industrial will pay attention to quality too so as to ensure that in the process of trying to beat deadlines, quality is compromised. How will continuous improvement help Corus Construction & Industrial in terms of innovation and customer satisfaction?
Despite the inevitability of incurring costs in training the coaches, spending more time and catering for the tools needed for the exercise, continuous improvement will be of immense benefit to the company. First, the idea of key performance indicators (KPIs) will make the delivery time for the orders of customers reduce considerably. This means more customers will be served, and therefore more returns for the company. The aspect of avoiding waste through the concept of lean production will lead to efficiency. An efficient company is always able to utilize the available materials sparingly for maximum gain.
This will mean more profits for Corus Construction & Industrial. The caution that will be observed by the trained and more responsible employees will also eliminate the possibilities of producing end products that are not of the required standards (defective products).This means that the market will not avoid the products of the company due to defects. This will translate to increased sales and an overall financial stability of the organization.
Besides the above, there is the aspect of encouraging workers to ensure that the process is improved at their own level. This has the overall impact of improved product quality, a factor that will assist the company keep and expand its market capitalization. Customers always want to go back to the seller who has the best quality product and this is what Corus Construction & Industrial will get when it achieves superior quality for its products (Times 100, p.6).
The other area that will be a source of benefit for the company is the transfer of the responsibility to improve the performance to the workers. This will make them feel needed and engaged, and therefore motivation will be high. Thus they will be able to serve the customers well and the company performance will definitely improve. All these benefits will be a reflection of the overall effectiveness of the continuous improvement strategy adopted and implemented by the company.
Times 100. Corus: Continuous Improvement as a Business Strategy. The Times 100. Web.