What is the best Continuous Improvement Software?

This seems like a really simple question. But the truth of the matter is that in terms of ‘what is the best continuous improvement software’, the question requires us to look at and review your current practices. If you want to be among the best in terms of improvement, you must learn from your current practices and ensure you improve your approach so that you match the delivery of the best companies and deliver user needs. The best continuous improvement software is going to help you improve your development practices and to help your team deliver lean improvements that deliver your company’s strategy.

On review, the best software for you depends on your current practices and also your aspirations as to where you wish to take your CI capabilities. You may just want to map processes better and faster to help you deliver or you may want to embed continuous improvement in your organisation and your culture. The best solution for you depends upon your strategy, what are you really trying to achieve? Are you trying to achieve CI in your organisation or do you just need to understand your processes better and understand the benefits of change?

This article is not about recommending a particular piece of software is more about understanding and identifying what your organisation might need to help it improve its performance and also to discover what challenges there are. We think continuous improvement is the best way to deliver real ongoing tangible savings. We think it helps to make the change process and continual improvement much easier.

Ultimately, all we are trying to is to deliver our company purpose and improve our services for our customers, so that we can deliver more effective changes to help deliver better services for our customers. Before you decide what, the best software is for you, you need to understand what best, good, better, quality, different, great or any other description really means to you in terms of outcomes and capabilities.

If you’re looking to map your processes better, the solution you need is very different to organisations who are looking to embed a continuous improvement culture across their organisation. Depending on where you are on that continuum will decide what sort of solution is best for you.

Your organisation approach matters too, you may be looking to deliver six sigma, you might be doing kaizen, you might apply lean, you might be agile, you might be delivering waterfall projects, might be called BPM, it might be called BPR, you might be doing CI or might be doing digital projects. Whatever your approach to improvement and whatever your current capability the best continuous improvement software is based on where you are right now and where you want to go.

Continuous Improvement Drivers

We all have different drivers for continuous improvement –

• Some organisations want to acquire or maintain iso accreditation
• Some just need it for other forms of compliance
• Some need to address budget challenges
• Some are trying to implement improvement projects or programmes
• Some want to create a continuous improvement culture
• Some are looking to create competitive advantage and deliver growth
• Some organisations need it to implement new software take advantage of the benefits
• Some organisations are trying to reorganise, implement new services or merge/move teams and/or roles

I would argue most organisations are trying to do at least one of those and there are many more drivers. I do think it’s important to consider your requirements and therefore the capabilities you need in your continuous improvement software to help support and deliver those outcomes. Often improvement teams do not have much investment in terms of tools and we think this is a risk considering the impact and importance of the work they are doing in terms of delivering your business plans.

There is no one right answer for everybody here, there are a set of questions you need to answer and things you need to think about. Depending on the answers to these, there is software features that can help you improve your performance and identify things can change to make your company better at identifying opportunities for improvement to services. In order to look at the best continuous improvement software we first have to understand what the user needs are that we are looking to help solve.

First, we have to look at the continuous improvement cycle. Before we look at the continuous improvement software tools, let’s first layout what we mean by the continuous improvement cycle.

Looking at the end to end process of delivering continuous improvement there are numerous stakeholders throughout the business who are involved in the end to end delivery of improvement. The continuous improvement software we chose must help us deliver value (ideally for all of those stakeholders) and remove waste from their processes.

This does make improvement management overall quite complex. That’s why it’s important to take into account the entire end-to-end improvement cycle when considering what the best continuous improvement software is for you. Overall, we believe continuous improvement software should be helping you implement a continuous improvement capability and culture within your entire organisation.

Continuous Improvement Stakeholders

Who are the key stakeholders?
• Senior management team
• Project and programme management
• Business analysts or as we prefer to call them continuous service improvers
• Process owners
• Process actors
• Process users
• Developers
• Business management
• Trainers
• And so many more

Continuous Improvement Lifecycle

What is the end to end continuous improvement life-cycle?

Ideation and project initiation

It is always difficult to decide where to start in a continuous cycle. By its very nature it is continuous but logically a good start-up point for us here is the initial idea or a project or programme requiring the improvement of one or more business processes.

Ideally your continuous improvement software should provide support to both the idea generation and the project management processes.

With project management processes there is almost always a key element of process improvement, delivering this in the best to the best quality can help improve this process and deliver more organisational benefits faster.

Idea generation and management is a key maturity step as you go further forward with continuous improvement and truly embedding a continuous improvement culture in your organisation. As such the functionality to deliver this within your continuous improvement software is a real value add feature for businesses looking to embed continuous improvement culture.

Process Mapping Software

Process mapping (process understanding and visualisation)

This is the most visible part of the process and probably the one which most people are looking for when they are looking at continuous improvement software. There is a lot of waste in traditional methods of capturing processes. Traditionally we would capture processes with Post-it notes and brown paper, then we would look to transfer this information to a process mapping tool. This is a very time consuming and complex process and any software we should be considering must make this process easier for both your improvement teams but also and most importantly the people doing the processes or the process actors as we call them.

There are many different process mapping tools both free and paid for that can help you map a process but not necessarily in a way that helps you deliver value and benefits for your organisation. If you are looking to implement continuous improvement software you need to make sure the software helps you deliver this part of the continuous improvement cycle in a more efficient way.

It is critical at this point that the tools facilitate better to deliver this process. We need to be able to capture processes, to get everyone on the same page, to engage all the process actors in improvement, to be able to capture all information in one place and to make it easy for the stakeholders to understand and contribute to the outcomes.

As we mentioned before there are many solutions for creating process maps. For continuous improvement we want to capture more than just the map. We want to be able to capture the process flow at a level of detail that helps us build and identify solutions. We want to be able to capture the key metrics around the process, this helps us to un