Continuous Process Improvement (CPI): Definition and Techniques - Tallyfy (2022)

Continuous process improvement (CPI) ensures that your business survives and strives in the long-term. By constantly re-evaluating and improving business processes, your organization will be more efficient, innovative and agile.

If you look at all the big or successful companies today, you’ll rarely find one that doesn’t audit and analyzes their processes or products systematically.

What is Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)?

By definition, Continuous process improvement (CPI) is the act of implementingimprovements to a product, service or process. These changes can either be incremental (over time) or breakthrough (all at once).

The key here is continuous – CPI isn’t a one-time initiative. You don’t just optimize a certain process once, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day. Once you succeed with a process improvement initiative, you need to periodically look back and see whether there are any changes you could make. Think, adopting new hardware, software, methodology, etc.


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If you’re familiar with other process management terms, you might be a bit confused where CPI stands. Here’s how it’s different from other methodologies…

Business Process Improvement (BPI)– As the name suggests, BPI is the act of improving a process. Continuous process improvement involves carrying out a BPI initiative whenever it’s needed.

Business Process Management(BPM) – BPM is a methodology that helps you manage processes. While Continuous process improvement is an essential part of BPM, a company that does CPI doesn’t necessarily employ BPM.

Kaizen – Kaizen is more related to company culture rather than process improvement. It involves building a culture of innovation and contribution, which allows for continuous process improvement.

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Techniques

Enforcing continuous process improvement in your company is up to you. You’ll need to ensure that your employees are motivated enough to carry out BPI initiatives (we’ll explain how to do that in a bit). To help you with actually improving processes, you can use one of the many continuous improvement tools

Business Process Mapping

Chances are, you don’t really know every one of your business processes by heart. To get a better idea of the hows and whys of the process you’re working on, you’ll need to create a business process map. The simplest way is to create a flowchart including different process steps. So, for example, here’s a process map for employee onboarding

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI): Definition and Techniques - Tallyfy (1)

For creating the map, you have three options…

  • Pen & Paper – The easiest way is to just grab a piece of paper and draw the flowchart.
  • Flowchart Software – Dedicated software for creating process maps. The benefit here is that you can share it with your employees digitally.

Once you have a process map, you can use the Deming Cycle technique to improve the process.

Still not sure how, exactly, process mapping works? We don’t blame you, creating a process map isn’t that easy. Read up our guide to learn the exact steps you need to take in order to successfully map your business processes.

Deming Cycle (PDCA)

The Deming Cycle, also known as PDCA, is a concept introduced by Dr. Edwards Deming. There are 4 steps to it…

  • Plan–Identifying a goal or purpose, formulating a theory, defining success metrics, and putting a plan into action
  • Do– Implementing the plan on a small scale to prove or disprove it’s validity
  • Check–Measuring and monitoring outcomes to test the validity of the plan. This allows for identification of potential problems and areas for improvement
  • Act– Taking the knowledge gained from the previous steps and putting it to use. This can either mean implementing it on a wider scale or restart the cycle and apply the lessons learned to change the plan for the better

Want to learn more about the Deming Cycle? Read up our complete guide to PDCA

Process Management Software

Once you make improvements to a process, you need to make sure that they stick. Business Process Management Software (BPMS) allows you to do that and more.

You can create a digital process and the software will take care of its execution. Instead of making to let your employee know of any changes to the process, you simply update it within the system and they’ll be automatically notified.

In addition, BPMS automatically routes tasks between your employees, making sure that everyone gets the job done.

Want to learn more about how the software works? Check out our guide to different BPM solutions.

Creating the Culture for Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

If you, the manager, personally lead every single process improvement initiative, you’re not likely to make any lasting change. More often than not, it’s the employee that knows how to work with the process best, not their supervisor. You want to empower them with the tools and ability to carry out process improvement when need be.

The key to establishing a culture of continuous process improvement is to make it a part of company culture. It should start top-down from the organization – the C-suite should encourage the management to make suggestions on process improvement. This, in turn, will trickle down from the management to shop-floor employees.

As a given, there should be a system that rewards initiative. Anyone that contributes an idea or two (whether it’s implemented or not) should be encouraged and rewarded.

An example of a system you can use is the “Kaizen Corner.” It’s a place where all of your employees can go and hand in suggestions on how to improve processes. This usually works in three stages

  1. Everyone’s suggestions and considered and evaluated. The employees are made aware of the reasoning for accepting certain suggestions and rejecting others. This helps show your team that their input is valued, whether their suggestions are implemented or not.
  2. To ensure that the employees do a better job in the long-term, you hold training on process analysis.
  3. Offer different incentives for employees to help with process improvement. This can be in the form of bonus pay, physical gifts, etc.

Once you’ve got the culture down, you should also consider creating a special team for breakthrough innovation. Your average employees are great at helping with incremental innovations – finding minor faults in the process and proposing suggestions.

For breakthrough innovation, you’ll need a more specialized team consisting of engineers. There will be times when adopting new technology, for example, could make a process 2x more effective. A team of specialists will help find such situations and create more complex solutions.

Process consultantand authorRon Ashkenasdescribes the need for and benefits of this type of balance:

“Question whether processes should be improved, eliminated, or disrupted.… For example, a six sigma team in one global consumer products firm spent a great deal of time streamlining information flows between headquarters and the field sales force, but didn’t question how the information was ultimately used. Once they did, they were able to eliminate much of the data and free upthousandsof hours that were redeployed to customer-facing activities.”

A combination of incremental and breakthrough innovation will ensure that your company is as efficient as it could be, giving you an edge over any competition.

What’s YOUR experience with continuous improvement? Do you have any tips or tricks that can help make the adoption process easier? Let us know down in the comments!


What is continuous process improvement CPI? ›

Continuous process improvement (CPI) is the practice of making incremental changes to your business processes to improve efficiency and quality. Continuous process improvement is sometimes also known as 'continual process improvement'.

What are continuous improvement techniques? ›

Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change. Do: Implement the change on a small scale. Check: Use data to analyze the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference. Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results.

What are the 3 phases of the continuous improvement process? ›

Phases of the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP)

Phase 1 “Plan”: Plan for change and identify improvement opportunities. Phase 2 “Do”: Implement changes identified. Phase 3 “Study”: Check to determine if the change had the desired outcome.

What is Continuous Improvement Process explain briefly? ›

Continuous improvement, sometimes called continual improvement, is the ongoing improvement of products, services or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements. These efforts can seek "incremental" improvement over time or "breakthrough" improvement all at once.

What are the four purposes for CPI? ›

CPI/LSS is an essential program for improving the operating effectiveness of the Agency across the full range of operational, administrative, science and technology, and support functions.

What are the 6 steps in continuous process improvement? ›

Six Simple Steps to Continuous Improvement
  1. Step One –A Simple Framework. Continuous improvement efforts usually start with processes. ...
  2. Step Two – A Single Cross-Departmental Plan. ...
  3. Step Three –Big Opportunities for Improvement. ...
  4. Step Four – A Practical Plan. ...
  5. Step Five – An Ongoing Program. ...
  6. Step Six – Change Management.
8 Aug 2017

What is Six Sigma continuous improvement model? ›

Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach to continuous improvement. It uses a set of quality management methods rooted in statistical analysis, and relies on an infrastructure of people within the company who are trained experts in these methods to see them through.

What is the difference between process improvement and continuous improvement? ›

continuous improvement: how do they differ? Both business process engineering and continuous improvement focus on reshaping existing processes, but BPR aims to shake things up fundamentally. BPR focuses on outcomes instead of individual tasks.

What are 3 aspects of continuous improvement? ›

A helpful way of understanding continuous improvement is by dividing it into three phases: learning, sharing, and implementing.

Why Continuous process improvement is important? ›

Why It's Important & Providing Value. The main goal of continuous process improvement is to provide higher value overall for a business. While it's always desirable to achieve efficiency, that could come at the cost of decreased quality, if the change is implemented without a close eye or too quickly.

What is example of continuous improvement? ›

Cross-training employees to work in a range of positions creates a continuous workplace improvement as it allows for a more smoothly run operation. Having trained staff members to step in when someone calls out sick or takes a leave of absence prevents a production slowdown.

What is an example of process improvement? ›

Eliminate waste

One of the best examples of process improvement projects centers around waste. Specifically, if you can identify and eliminate areas of waste within your processes, you can save time and produce higher quality end results. One of the best ways to eliminate waste is to rely on Lean principles.

Who is responsible for continuous improvement? ›

Continuous improvement should be the responsibility of everyone in the company (not just for the process improvement team).

How do you answer continuous improvement? ›

When answering this question, you should try to make your answer sound something like this: To me, continuous improvement is an attitude. Recognizing that there are ways you can improve yourself and taking the steps to become better at your job. I always try to exhibit this attitude.

What is CPI and why is it important? ›

Broadly speaking, the CPI measures the price of consumer goods and how they're trending. It's a tool for measuring how the economy as a whole is faring when it comes to inflation or deflation. When planning how you spend or save your money, the CPI can influence your decisions.

What factors affect CPI? ›

The CPI represents changes in prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households. User fees (such as water and sewer service) and sales and excise taxes paid by the consumer are also included. Income taxes and investment items (like stocks, bonds, and life insurance) are not included.

What are the values of CPI? ›

At CPI, we are dedicated to changing behaviors and reducing conflict for the Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM of everyone. We believe in the power of empathy, compassion, and meaningful connections. We believe personal safety and security are the antidotes to fear and anxiety.

What are the benefits of process improvement? ›

The benefits of process improvement
  • Automate tedious, repetitive, or menial tasks for greater process efficiency.
  • Better allocate time, employees, or resources to save money.
  • Streamline or replace products to increase competitive advantage.

What is quality improvement tools and techniques? ›

Seven simple tools can be used by any professional to ease the quality improvement process: flowcharts, check sheets, Pareto diagrams, cause and effect diagrams, histograms, scatter diagrams, and control charts. (Some books describe a graph instead of a flowchart as one of the seven tools.)

What are used in Six Sigma? ›

Set of tools: The Six Sigma expert uses qualitative and quantitative techniques or tools to drive process improvement. Such tools include statistical process control (SPC), control charts, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), and process mapping.

What are the 4 a continuous improvement model? ›

4 Key Principles of Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement methodology hinges on four concrete phases: plan, do, check, and act. This is sometimes called the plan-do-check-act cycle or PDCA cycle, and it reveals the guiding principles of continuous improvement.

What are the 6 Six Sigma process? ›

Six Sigma methodologies

DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) is used to correct a process that already exists. DMADV (define, measure, analyze, design, validate) is used to create a new process.

What is the difference between Six Sigma and continuous improvement? ›

Continuous process improvement is a universal need. Six Sigma focuses on reducing variance and errors in a production process. That's because processes without consistent dependability eventually lead to errors and defective products.

What should be the main focus of any continuous improvement project? ›

Continuous improvement strives to accomplish two main goals, namely, streamline workflows and reduce waste. Together, these work to reduce costs and optimise outputs, whether that be the quality of a product or service.

What are the challenges that exist in continuous process improvement? ›

One of the common problems with continuous improvement is that the team implementing a BPM focus rely entirely on the implementation of the system, whilst not giving enough focus to keeping the rest of the organisation in the loop. This can be because they don't have the time or the skillset to address this.

Is continuous improvement a project? ›

Continuous improvement can be viewed as a formal practice or an informal set of guidelines. Many companies have shifted focus to more formal approaches to project and process management such as Lean / Agile methodologies (Kanban, Kaizen, Scrum, XP). The continuous improvement cycle is demonstrated here.

How do you implement continuous improvement in the workplace? ›

Popular continuous improvement methods
  1. Brainstorm. Regular brainstorming sessions and/or think tanks help keep both individuals and organizations as a whole thinking about ways to make improvements. ...
  2. Surveys & polls. ...
  3. Internal audits. ...
  4. Training programs. ...
  5. Skills management.
27 Nov 2020

How do you answer a process improvement question? ›

How to answer the question "Tell me about a time you improved a process?"
  1. Share a story. If possible, choose an example story that relates to an aspect of the new position, as this may add significance to the interview. ...
  2. Describe the benefit. ...
  3. Relate your experience to the interview.

Which are the 4 important things you need to do to assess a process improvement opportunity? ›

4 Steps for an Effective Business Process Improvement Cycle
  • Identify the need for change: The first step in the BPI process is to identify the need for change. ...
  • Analyze current process: ...
  • Obtain commitment and support: ...
  • Create improvement strategy:
17 Oct 2013

What is another term for continuous improvement? ›

enhancement (advancement, betterment, advance >>) refinement. rehabilitation. upgrade. melioration.

What is continuous improvement policy? ›

Definitions. Continuous improvement – the ongoing effort to improve services, systems, processes or products to maximise individual outcomes. Evidence-based approaches are used the organisation adapts to changing needs of the community or people accessing services.

How do you prepare for process improvement interview? ›

"As a process improvement specialist, it's your job to evaluate current practices and streamline processes to better achieve company objectives. In preparation for an interview, come ready to discuss examples of how your contributions in past jobs helped make measurable improvements to a team or product.

What is continuous improvement interview questions? ›

General continuous improvement engineer interview questions

What do you believe is the most important part of your job? What is one area of production most companies could improve? What qualities and skills do you think a continuous improvement employee should possess? What motivates you in the workplace?

What is continuous improvement in the workplace? ›

What Is Continuous Improvement? Continuous improvement is a company culture that encourages all employees to look for ways to enhance the business's operations. This includes suggesting ideas to improve efficiencies, evaluating current processes, and finding opportunities to cut unproductive work.

What is CPI in quality assurance? ›

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is used to ensure the survival of your business and attempts in the long-term. By consistently re-evaluating and developing business processes, your organizations will be more resourceful, advanced and responsive.

How does BPM differ from continuous improvement? ›

Continuous process improvement is a set of methodologies that are used to improve business processes for long-term cost and performance improvements. BPM is implemented for specific business processes to remove redundancies and repetition.

What is the difference between process improvement and continuous improvement? ›

continuous improvement: how do they differ? Both business process engineering and continuous improvement focus on reshaping existing processes, but BPR aims to shake things up fundamentally. BPR focuses on outcomes instead of individual tasks.

Is 5S a continuous improvement? ›

5S is typically the first step towards eliminating waste from manufacturing processes and eventually leads to improving bottom line results. 5S is a foundation of kaizen, which is the practice of continuous improvement based on certain guiding principles, which include: Good processes bring good results.

Does CPI adjust for quality? ›

The CPI uses hedonic quality adjustments in item categories that tend to experience a high degree of quality change either due to seasonal changes, as in apparel items, or because of innovative improvements and technological changes, as in consumer appliances and electronics.

What are the benefits of continuous improvement? ›

Benefits of Continuous Improvement
  • Improved product quality.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity.
  • Decreased cost.
  • Reduced waste.
  • Employee satisfaction and teamwork.
  • Customer satisfaction.

Why is continuous process improvement important? ›

With continuous business process improvement, it becomes easier to isolate, identify, and resolve issues within your organization. Inefficiencies and waste are often the most important to tackle first.

How does continuous process improvement impact the business? ›

Continuous improvement drives both the improvement of processes and products. Companies that actively look for ways to enhance their business will invariably increase the value of their products and services. This will lead to more sophisticated and overall more economically competitive offerings.

Why is continuous improvement important in healthcare? ›

The Importance of Continuous Improvement in Healthcare

Improve the patient experience. Improve treatment outcomes. Improve population health. Uncover aspects of patient care that could be improved.

What do you call process improvement? ›

Process improvement can have several different names such as business process management (BPM), business process improvement (BPI), business process re-engineering, continual improvement process (CIP), to name a few.

What is an example of continuous improvement? ›

Employee training, skills development, cross-training programs, educational benefits, and courses can all be seen as examples of continuous improvement. Most employees will come into a job with a particular set of skills and competencies and develop some more in their day-to-day work.

What is Six Sigma continuous improvement model? ›

Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach to continuous improvement. It uses a set of quality management methods rooted in statistical analysis, and relies on an infrastructure of people within the company who are trained experts in these methods to see them through.

What is 5S technique? ›

5S is a five step methodology for creating a more organized and productive workspace: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. 5S serves as a foundation for deploying more advanced lean production tools and processes.

Is Kaizen and 5S same? ›

5S is derived from the philosophy of "kaizen", which simply means "continuous improvement". Japanese automotive manufacturer, Toyota, states that the philosophy of "kaizen" is one of its core values. This philosophy is supported by three key principles, one of which is 5S.

What is 5S with example? ›

The Five S's
Seitonorderlinessset in order
1 more row

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