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Using a scientific approach for process improvement requires using data to evaluate the current situation, analyze and improve processes, and track progress (FOCUS [ Fig. 14.1.1–1 ]). In the context of the plan-do-check-act cycle (PDCA [ Fig. 14.1.1–2 ]), data and analytical tools are used throughout the do, check, and act portions. This section will help in understanding what each tool reveals about the process being improved, when to use it, and how to use it. An overall outline of a typical process improvement project can be seen in Appendix 14.1.1–1. Specific examples related to the process improvement project outline from Appendix 14.1.1–1 can be seen in Appendix 14.1.1–2.
Diagram of the FOCUS summary of process improvement.
Strategy: diagram of the plan-do-check-act cycle for process improvement. (From M. Brassard, The Memory Jogger: a Pocket Guide of Tools for Continual Improvement. Goal/QPC, Salem, NH, 1998.)
Outline of a typical process improvement project.
The project title describes the process improvement project.
The aim allows the team to focus on the goal of the process improvement project.
The team is assembled to establish its purpose, process, and measures of team progress.
Flowchart of process.
The cause-and-effect fishbone diagram allows team members to find and cure causes, not symptoms. This allows a team to identify, explore, and graphically display, in increasing detail, all of the possible causes related to a problem or condition to discover its root causes(s).
Data from a process are summarized and graphically presented.
The intervention describes what action will be taken to improve the process.
The actions for process improvement are documented each month.
The control chart is a graphic display of the data as the process change evolves over time.(continued).
The impact statements describe the process change.
The process improvement is observed over time to maintain the change.