Process Improvement and Operational Excellence

Improvement can be interpreted as lower operating cost or reduced inventory or increased efficiency or better quality. The process of improvement concerns management setting targets, employees making changes in their areas to achieve it, then management setting a new target.

Realising the target, meaning how the company will actually achieve, must be based on a process so that each employee knows the steps bound, they can see the clues that tell them they are heading in the right direction, and they know when they have arrived.

Often the terms Process Improvement and Operational Excellence are used interchangeably, but what do they actually mean?

Operational Excellence is an element of organizational leadership that signifies the exercise of an array of principles, systems, and tools concerning the sustainable improvement of key performance metrics.

Process Improvement on the other hand builds on the concept of end-to-end process flows in core and support processes, along with organisation’s culture in its sphere. It needs the organisation to provide, staff knows how the organisation works as a value creation system, and to have structures and empowerment that enable people to fix problems when required.”

So what are we to make of this?

Operational Excellence is a lot more hands on and practical. While Process Excellence is more analytical, it conjures images of process maps and spread sheets.

It seems, for now, that exact differences between the two terms depends on the individual, the company they represent, and what activities they choose to engage in.

Yet one thing can be acknowledged unambiguous – both are terms used to describe the journey towards excellence within your company, and the mind-set that your company should continue to strive for optimum efficiency.