The Improve phase confirms that the proposed solution will meet or exceed the quality improvement goals of the project. It also identifies the resources required for successful full-scale implementation of that solution. In the Improve phase, you will also test your solution on a smaller scale in a real business environment to ensure you have fixed the causes of variation and your solution will work when fully implemented.
The objective of the Improve phase is to identify and implement viable high gain solutions and making sure it works. The following are the generic steps in this phase:
- Identify possible solutions
- Select the best approach
- Design the future state
- Perform detailed cost and benefit analysis
- Establish new dashboard
- Create implementation plan
- Pilot solutions
- Implement solutions
- Proof improvement
When there are several alternative solutions to achieve the same result, the group has to select the best approach among them. In instances where a high level of confidence is required for the chosen solution, the selection process can be carried out using techniques llike the Pugh Matrix. In the absence of data and under time constraint, the ‘best’ solution can be selected based experience using voting techniques.
One of the common pitfalls at this stage is to prioritize all the possible solutions. Solutions that do not conflict for the same resources, solutions that can be phased out for iimplementation for optimum long-term benefits or complementing solutions that can be combined should not be prioritize in an ad-hoc manner.
Minimum Requirement Test
Before admitting solutions for prioritization, it is good practice to run all alternatives through the minimum requirement tests by asking the following questions. If the answer to any of the questions is ‘No’, the group may need to enhance the solution, generate a new one or discard it.
- Will this solution eliminate the root causes of the problem?
- Will it prevent the problem from reappearing?