QSE policy and ISO standards are now part of the daily life of many organizations. The related requirements are numerous and the continuous improvement of management systems is a pillar of QSE. So what is it and how does it work?
Continuous improvement, a pillar of QSE
A pillar of quality management and key to the ISO 9001 standard, continuous improvement is an operational approach aimed at gradually reducing what is not working optimally. It could be :
- malfunctions in company processes, products and services;
- risks weighing on the company;
- customer dissatisfaction
In short, continuous improvement is a global philosophy which consists in reduce waste et eliminate malfunctions pour strengthen strengths value generators and the profitability products, services and processes.
This approach is gentle, gradual and has a long-term goal. This means that it does not involve a radical upheaval of processes, practices and tools for employees.
QSE: the Deming wheel to illustrate continuous improvement
There are many approaches and various tools to conduct a continuous improvement project. The deming wheel, or the PDCA, is a foundation for continuous improvement. It is often used by QSE managers to implement their approach and improve the performance of the organization. Here are the main steps that constitute it.
To improve something, you must first understand where the problem is. The first step in continuous improvement is therefore the analysis of the situation. This is when we put in place key controls and indicators, perform internal audits and identify performance issues. This makes it possible to formalize the problems in order to then be able to find concrete and effective solutions to them.
The KPIs, or KPIs, that is to say the key performance indicators put in place during this stage will then allow you to evaluate the actions put in place. It is therefore an element that should not be overlooked.
During this stage, it is a question of triggering and deploying corrective actions and tailor-made solutions based on the decisions made during the previous stage. It is important here to involve both management and employees in the process. This will make it possible in particular to remove the obstacles that persist.
In addition, for greater efficiency, it is up to applying the right method to each problem. In fact, there is no standard solution applicable to all malfunctions.
After a certain period of implementation time (defined in step 1), it is time to use the KPIs/KPIs chosen upstream. They will make it possible to objectively judge the effectiveness of the approach implemented. You can then make adjustments and correct what is not suitable if some results are not up to what was decided. All you have to do is repeat the first planning step, then carry out a new achievement.
Respond and improve
As established in the first part of this article, the continuous improvement approach is a long-term one. For this, the last step of the Deming wheel is essential. It is now that we organize management reviews, that is to say planned meetings aimed at taking stock of the management systems and the actions implemented. This is also a requirement of the ISO 9001 standard.
Once this step has been carried out, the first step is repeated to identify another malfunction or risk to be dealt with. The cycle never stops: it is a wheel that turns continuously in order to constantly improve the organization.