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Continuous improvements; the never-ending quest for eradicating a status quo

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In an environment that is constantly changing, financials need to keep up with high-quality products and services that follow, meet, or preferably exceed the rapidly changing customer demands. Where ‘implementing agile’ provides the core elements of a more flexible organization, a large number of Financials experience only a very limited upswing in the overall capabilities to improve in services or processes.

By Wouter Pijl, Head of Digital and Performance, Rutger Meulman, Junior Consultant, Loek Bleijswijk, Principal Consultant and Mike Pszenicki, Director UK Process Improvement. This article is part of a series on Delta Capita’s Performance Improvement and Cost Optimisation.

To identify and implement the best improvements, your organisation needs high alertness to understand how best you can do this and what tools are available to help. At Delta Capita, we help clients get to this level by implementing continuous improvement programmes with a never-ending quest for perfection. Our approach combines multiple techniques like Kaizen and Lean to help you achieve a higher level of improvement and agility.

Double-digit improvements focus on situations that need acute short-term measures. Continuous improvement aims for gradual progress in both revenue and costs.

Continuous versus double-digit improvement

Challenges in continuous improvement

Continuous improvement means finding ways to help an organisation improve profits, reduce costs, and/or accelerate innovation. The benefits are endless because it is a never-ending quest for perfection. The concept does not stop at one project or department but applies to your whole organisation. Sounds great, right? Absolutely, but there are several pitfalls and challenges such as:

  • Capturing the return on investment (ROI) of small increments
    Organisations love to see positive business cases showing the effects of improvements but sometimes find it hard to understand the benefits of many small improvements together.
  • Gathering meaningful data on processes
    Making evidence-driven decisions is often a struggle because of the lack of usable process data. Large financial institutions such as banks often start transformation because it is obviously the right thing to do, but they do it without calculating a baseline to measure against. The projects then meander and struggle to justify their worth part-way through because it is difficult to show what has improved.
  • Aligning efforts across an organization
    Small-scale improvements can be restricted to one department, and the view of your full organisation-wide potential becomes limited.
  • Prevailing organisational resistance to change
    Resistance to change has become a cliche because so many organisations still find it hard to achieve employee buy-in for large change initiatives.
  • Unable to adapt to changed customer needs
    The ability to hear the customer’s voice and change accordingly often gets smothered in complex organisational structures and illogical customer journeys.

To succeed with continuous improvement, you need to be fully aware of these significant challenges when introducing the concept in your organisation.

Reinventing continuous improvement

Every organisation will have some elements of continuous improvement in it, and you are probably upgrading steadily already. But you often need to fine-tune your approach and mix of tools to find the best fit across your organisation. Whilst doing this, you also need to look constantly for the newest techniques and technologies to aid improvement.

Our approach combines ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ interventions. The hard interventions — such as those directed towards dashboarding, frameworks and processes — enable the right conditions for continuous improvement within the organisation. The soft interventions deliver the improvements themselves through training, example management and decisive decision making.

Soft and hard improvements to get the wheel in motion

Eradicating the Status Quo

At Delta Capita, we enable a culture where there is no status quo. In other words, ‘the way we’ve always done things’ does not exist. In this culture, you always encourage people to trial and find better ways of doing their jobs. You create data-driven frameworks on processes and client value streams to enable better proposals and decision making – and you give your employees ownership over their and the organisation’s daily processes.

We train employees and managers to make sure everybody understands the basic concepts of continuous improvement and how to apply them at every level in the organisation. We then let employees experiment with continuous improvement, and provide feedback so they can become the agents of change.

Delta Capita also helps establish a framework and focus areas to make sure an improvement in one part of the organisation will not come at the cost of another. This framework includes sophisticated measurement tools to gauge the value of each improvement and weigh it against other factors and initiatives.

The never-ending quest

By definition, continuous improvement never ends. You can set medium-term goals – but most importantly is to set the wheels in motion towards consistently improving your products and services with the customer in mind. Don’t be discouraged by never arriving at your final destination, enjoy the journey towards it!

The Delta Capita team has extensive experience in improving performance in financial institutions. To find out more, contact us today or click on our Performance Improvement page for further information.

Other articles in this series:
The Future of Cost Proofing: 4 Key Considerations
Delta Capita’s Costimisation – How to cut double digit costs
Unlocking cost saving potential in overhead activities