One of the results of the ever-increasing globalized economy we live in today is that change in business and industry is constant. Events that occur in one part of the world effect business operations and supply chains in another, producing a volatile market. Success and survival depend on an organization’s ability to raise their processes to a level of continuous improvement, and there is only one way to do that.
Overview: What is Process Maturity?
Process maturity is a concept used by the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodology to evaluate and optimize business processes. It involves evaluating the current state of a process, determining what stage of the maturation process it is in, and then identifying how to improve it with specific interventions. Process maturity can be thought of as a spectrum that ranges from immature (level 1) to mature (levels 4 and 5). An immature process is one that is not standardized, repeatable, controlled, or efficient; it may be ad hoc or inefficiently designed and implemented. A mature process is one that is standardized and repeatable; it has been designed in such a way that it can be consistently replicated; it has been tested for efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction; and all its aspects have been precisely defined so that they can be easily repeated. In other words, it has reached a state of continuous improvement.
The stages of maturity are:
- Initial: This is the stage when you have just begun implementing Lean Six Sigma techniques. There is lack of awareness and results are inconsistent.
- Managed: In this stage, you have implemented Lean Six Sigma techniques but no improvement has occurred yet.
- Defined: At this stage, you have started to see some improvement. Furthermore, you know what needs to be improved further, and how to do it.
- Standardized: At this stage, your entire organization is using Lean Six Sigma and seeing consistent improvement.
- Optimized: In this stage, a process can now use data from previous improvements to make new ones, and the produced results are better than ever before. In other words, they are automatically responding appropriately to changes in the environment resulting in continuous improvements, and this occurs consistently and sustainably.
4 Benefits of Process Maturity
The benefits of process maturity can be broken down into four main areas:
1. Customer satisfaction.
Mature processes result in happier customers and more positive word-of-mouth marketing.
2. Product quality.
When processes are optimized, the chances of faulty products decrease dramatically, which means fewer returns and complaints from your buyers.
3. Employee morale & productivity.
When people feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves, they’re more likely to put their best efforts into it—and reap the rewards. That’s why having a clear vision with goals you can work towards is so important for creating an engaged team that cares about their projects as much as you do (or maybe even more).
4. Financial gains.
Even if you don’t see a direct impact on your bottom line right away (which could take months or years), there are many indirect ways that mature processes can save money: fewer mistakes mean less time spent fixing them; less time spent fixing mistakes means saving on labor costs; better use of resources means freeing up capital for other projects or expansion plans; and so on and so forth.
Why is Process Maturity Important to Understand?
To understand the importance of process maturity, we must first look at why continuous improvement is so essential. Continuous improvement is a requirement for survival in today’s business environment. The goal of continuous improvement is to improve efficiency, productivity and quality of processes by identifying and removing waste from within them. However, this cannot be achieved without process maturity models because each level represents a different stage in the evolution of a particular process. The DMAIC model has been instrumental in helping many organizations achieve higher levels of performance through better understanding their processes and improving them over time. Process maturity models have also played an important role in enabling industries like healthcare to continue operating despite changes in market conditions or regulations that may otherwise have forced them out of business
An Industry Example of Process Maturity
To better understand how process maturity can be used in business, let’s look at an example from the manufacturing industry: Manufacturing plants use product quality control processes that require employees to perform inspections on products before they leave the plant. These inspections can take anywhere from five minutes up to several hours depending on the complexity of the product being inspected. If you wanted to optimize this process using Six Sigma principles, you would need to look at how much time each inspection takes per worker per day and then compare that number with how many workers are needed for each shift based on your staffing needs. If more than one person was required per shift but less than two people were required per shift, then it would make sense to keep those extra workers on staff because they could be utilized elsewhere instead of taking up valuable floor space in your plant if there were no other ways for them to contribute.
3 Best Practices When Thinking About Process Maturity
When you’re thinking about process maturity, think of it as a spectrum: on one end, there’s no optimization and the process is very inefficient; on the other end is complete optimization and efficiency. The best practices for optimizing processes include:
1. Identify the current state of your process by using data-driven methods like Six Sigma.
This will help you understand exactly how inefficient your current processes are so you can set goals for improvement.
2. Make sure that everyone involved in your project understands what “optimal” means for each step in your process.
To do this, you’ll need to identify metrics for each step of your process (for example, “How many times does this step need to happen?” or “How much time does this step take?”). Once these metrics have been identified, it should be clear what kind of improvements need to be made at each step of your process.
3. Create an action plan based on these metrics and then implement it.
Once you’ve identified what needs improvement, make sure all stakeholders know about it so they can work together to implement changes in a timely manner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Process Maturity
Is process maturity the same thing as continuous improvement?
No. Continuous improvement refers to a state of optimal performance. Process maturity is the 5-stage process through which that stage is achieved.
Do maturity and capability measure the same thing?
No. Maturity is measured across multiple processes while capability is measured with respect to one single area.
Are there any potential drawbacks to process maturity?
The biggest drawbacks to process maturity are the cost and amount of time needed to implement. It takes a lot of time and money to evaluate and optimize processes, which can be costly for businesses that don’t have the resources available for such an investment.
Optimization is a Good Decision
If your business processes have never been evaluated, now might be the time for you to consider hiring a professional service provider for help. Today’s business marketplace is competitive and requires efficiency. Mature processes are vital for competitive advantage. Investing in good business process evaluation and optimization could be the best decision your business will ever make.