Growing continuous improvement goals
Continuous improvement is of benefit to the sponsor company and contractor. Are there certain methodologies (e.g., organizational
or operational structures and communication vehicles) that you would recommend to identify and facilitate continuous improvement?
What approaches might be used to recognize those improvements in the context of the working relationship?
We have a Business Excellence/Continuous Improvement team that focuses on driving continuous-improvement efforts across the
organization. RCPS, Kaizen, and Six-Sigma approaches play a role in operational improvements and drive sustainable results
that can improve cost, compliance, and customer service—all of which benefit the customer.
Developing a collaborative relationship in which both parties work together for the most optimal success is key. This collaboration
involves treating the client's product as if it were our own and recommending improvement opportunities that will benefit
both parties. Building trust in the working relationship opens the door for other opportunities with the partner in the future.
For example, we were struggling with one partner. We held a joint Kaizen event, which gave us a chance to walk through the
current situation (i.e., discuss expectations/concerns among both parties), break down communication barriers, identify areas
for improvement, and map out a new process specifying tangible steps and expectations. The event further developed a foundation
of trust and strengthened the relationship, ultimately improving our ability to meet the customer's needs.
Continuous improvement remains a major opportunity for advantage. Most importantly, we believe that thorough understanding
of both leading and lagging process indicators can help create an environment conducive to continuous improvement. We rely
on robust data analyses to determine statistical significance of process efficiency and consistency measurements. This approach
helps to target the most promising and correct continuous-improvement opportunities to ensure the desired outcome. We use
rigorous analysis to select, drive, and confirm our improvements.
Furthermore, Lean-manufacturing methodology enables us to identify and implement improvements in an efficient manner. Our
culture emphasizes—with every employee in every facility—the importance of owning one's specific role and areas for improvement.
When encouraging staff to identify small ways to improve, the effect is multiplied throughout the company, creating combined
improvements and reinforcing a culture of change. As a result, we are able to provide better services to our clients to help
them better serve their patients.
We also rely on identifying and sharing best practices within our facilities and with our clients to optimize the effectiveness
of our client teams. We work in an ever-changing industry environment and see mutual benefit from working collaboratively
to identify and implement techniques that can improve our service.
One of our latest initiatives focuses on improving methods to manage historical knowledge and to ensure that it is appropriately
leveraged to improve future programs. By using more sophisticated technology such as an internal collaborative portal or central
knowedge base and past experience, we can more effectively assess risks and opportunities associated with new projects. In
addition, we are able to demonstrate improved capability to clients by showcasing our history of innovation, problem solving,
product delivery, and support.
Our approaches depend on the type and depth of the business relationship. We do use an agreed governance structure that includes
frequent business and quality review meetings, joint project steering-committee meetings, and sales and operations meetings.
We also engage in Six-Sigma projects together with our customers and suppliers.