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Navigate Internal Improvement Programs With A Strategic Roadmap


Modern businesses in almost every sector regularly greenlight operational improvement projects – internal initiatives designed to address serious shop floor deficiencies, boost product quality and output, and ultimately bolster the bottom line. However, a surprisingly large number of these efforts fail on multiple fronts, according to research from the Project Management Institute, an international professional organization for in-house strategic coordinators. For instance, an estimated 16 percent of the organizations that embarked on internal projects in 2017 experienced outright failure and surrendered one-third of their respective budgets in the process. These businesses attributed project failure to numerous variables, including ineffective vision-setting and poor communication.

How can enterprises looking to upgrade their operations via internal improvement programs avoid these missteps and the associated fallout? There are multiple solutions out there. However, few are as effective as strategic roadmaps. During this process, project stakeholders establish a long-term collaborative framework meant to streamline execution and increase the likelihood of an ideal outcome. Project teams essentially create the blueprints for success, making it easier for them to carry out key tasks and move forward without getting sidetracked or making major strategic missteps. That said, effective roadmapping requires serious effort. Here’s how internal improvement stakeholders can get started with this approach:

Unpack the Kaizen event

The strategy of a roadmap actually centers on specific collaborative meetups called Kaizen events. These assemblies come from the well-known Six Sigma process improvement methodology, which emphasizes iterative, efficient operational advancement. Kaizen events serve several key purposes, including:


  • The assembly of all project stakeholders
  • The evaluation of existing project workflows
  • The development and deployment of process improvements
  • The solicitation of clear buy-in from all project stakeholders

These are essential collaborative functions that might go unaddressed in looser project planning strategies. Additionally, team members often attend multiple Kaizen events throughout the lifespan of an internal initiative. This prevents the emergence of collaborative roadblocks or misunderstandings that could lay the groundwork for failure. However, businesses cannot simply put meetings on the calendar and expect their teams to communicate flawlessly and address all relevant pain points unprompted – there must be structure. This is where a strategic roadmap enters the picture.

Develop the Kaizen roadmap

Agendas build the foundation for effective meetings. The Kaizen roadmap does something similar, acting as an unchanging touchpoint for project team members in all departments. Most feature timelines overlain with specific collaborative tasks and sequential relationship details. Kaizen roadmaps also display the required effort levels and optimal durations associated with each scheduled task. This brand of planning makes it easier for teams to focus in on and address key variables in a timely manner.

What duties might a Kaizen roadmap include? Again, this varies depending on the project. That said, there are some relatively standard tasks. For instance, group data analysis is almost always a key activity, as Six Sigma, the genesis of the Kaizen event, emphasizes metric-based decision making. Additionally, businesses that host roadmapped gatherings of this kind often include time for current state evaluation, during which project stakeholders evaluate the status of a given initiative and assess the efficacy of its workflows.

In the end, strategic project management roadmaps centered on Kaizen events can make an immense impact on the shop floor, allowing businesses to roll out internal improvement efforts that generate actual return on investment. Here at USC Consulting Group, we have been helping companies embrace this approach for decades, lending them the guidance they need to bolster project team performance and realize revenue gains.

Contact USCCG today to learn more about our work.

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