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Continual Improvement in Business

Any business will know that it’s essential to always keep on top of your expenses and when the opportunity arises to do something more cheaply (at the same quality) or something much better (at the same price) it’s worth exploring. In business, this can be put on a continual improvement process (CIP), which denotes an ongoing effort to improve products, processes, or services. CIP can be a process that gradually makes improvements (incremental) or a process that looks for a “breakthrough” effect. For many businesses, CIP is vital to remain competitive in the market, however, what in theory makes sense, could lead to opposition in practice.

Why CIP is Challenging

The very nature of CIP is to challenge everything. It’s like having someone go around the organization and continuously asking “why” things are a certain way and “why not” things can be different. You can imagine this gets quite old very soon. Also, it’s in the very nature of human beings to try to hold on to things we’ve grown accustomed to. For all our ingenuity and adaptability, humans, in general, don’t cope well with change, especially when it’s forced upon us. Most CIP professionals are hired as external consultants, and that immediately creates an “us versus them” atmosphere, if not appropriately addressed. This very human behavior needs to be considered when engaging in CIP as, at the end of the day, it’s still the people you have that are going to have to do the work.

How to Get Buy-In

One of the critical things to make clear is that CIP is not there to judge anyone’s work, it’s there to help make sure the company as a whole stays competitive. As long as the business stays competitive, it can remain in business and keep employing people. Even more so, CIP can lead to an increased competitive position, in which the advantage can be used to win more business and grow. In a way, CIP is like having a car, but it’s a little bit more tweaked for the race track. With proper introduction and inclusion of internal employees, CIP can be embraced by the company, from the boardroom to the work floor.

Many Forms of CIP

CIP can come in many forms and help many aspects of the business. It could be hiring a business accountant as an extra set of eyes to look at your tax structure and making sure you get 100% value out of deductibles, tax schemes, and tax breaks. It could be an ecommerce specialist to look if you are making use of all the data you have to improve sales. It could be an IT procurement specialist that looks at all the licenses you have to see if you can get better bulk deals.

CIP as Your DNA

And it doesn’t always have to mean hiring a consultant. Ultimately CIP can be a process that all employees take to heart. Companies that have a workforce that is engaged and proactive with looking for ways to deliver more quality, reduce costs, be more efficient and effective will, in the end, prevail in the marketplace, no matter the industry.

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