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- This is it.
Continuous Improvement (CI) is an essential concept within any organisation, it strives for processes to be constantly refined to achieve the best possible outcome for all customers, whether they be internal or external. It can range from improving ways of working for an individual, within a team or for larger projects such as improving key processes like Order-to-Cash. Continuous Improvement is everybody’s job and should be bought into by all employees within a business.
In a Continuous Improvement function, an example of some problems the team may come across could be:
- Difficulty identifying which areas will benefit most from improvements
- Challenges understanding the value and benefit of improvements made
- Understanding how a change may impact the rest of the process
In this blog, we will discuss how Silico can support the above challenges and the entire life cycle of a typical Continuous Improvement project through 4 stages: Plan, Do, Check and Act. This framework is a standard approach amongst many CI teams, as it ensures swift but structured progress throughout an improvement project, whilst being simple to maintain and recycle.
Plan: Use a Digital Twin to focus transformation initiatives on preventing future problems
Building your Digital Twin in Silico will provide you with a real-time, digital view of your organisation. A Digital Twin can instantaneously identify areas of improvement and where ‘bottlenecks’ may be forming within a process. This information can be provided to CI leads to begin a project and work with teams to help improve their processes. A Digital Twin shows where time is best spent and helps prioritise workload.
Using a dashboard of an Order-to-Cash process, we can see where CI opportunities may arise. The process is split across 3 teams, Order Review (left), Order Delivery (middle) and Order Reconciliation (right).
We can identify ~11k cases stuck in the Order Review process, ~9k in Order Delivery and ~34k in Order Reconciliation. On further investigation, the Digital Twin tells us that so many cases sit in Reconciliation because customers have a 14-day payment term on invoices. Moreover, Reconciliation has little effect on customer satisfaction scores. With this in mind, the CI team is tasked to investigate the ‘Order Review’ subprocess.
Do: Identify the optimal improvements and test them before they go live in the organisation
Once an improvement area has been identified, Silico allows you to see instantaneously which area is causing backlogs and how it will evolve over time if no action is taken.
In this example, we see the ‘Confirmation Backlog’ is slowly growing over time. It provides businesses with ‘FutureSight’ and time to implement continuous improvement initiatives - if nothing is done about this problem, the backlog will continue to grow. Using ‘Variant Panels’, we can now experiment with different solutions to see how we can improve this step of a process.
By automating 65% of this process, we see the backlog reduce significantly. Silico quantifies the impact of the changes on the KPIs and financials in a user-friendly dashboard for analysis as seen in the next step.
Check: Ensure that your process operates and thrives in all scenarios
Your Digital Twin simulates, and tests changes automatically. Therefore, no time is spent collecting user data and testing the improvement with a small number of employees, saving time and money for the teams involved. You will also no longer run the risk of trialling any initiatives with real customers.
We can check the performance and financial benefit within Silico, reducing project time whilst providing visuals for senior management buy-in and sign-off. For this example, the initiative aims to be implemented in May 2023.
In a usual CI capacity, the improvement shows a great benefit and could be presented ready for sign-off and moved to the implementation phase (Act).
With Silico CI teams can can ‘level-up’ results by ensuring the benefits are maintained with external factors such as volume growth. For this example, we will be increasing order volumes by 10% to analyse how the process performs.
A 10% growth in orders without the changes made (blue) would result in a significant increase in lead times as well as a downward curve to customer satisfaction scores resulting in ~42m being stuck in the process. With the change implemented (green), the business can benefit from ~25m additional profit and ensure their customers are happy with the service provided. This brings even bigger wins for a Continuous Improvement team which may be measured on Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) or similar savings, and the business alike due to additional revenue unlocked from the process.
Act: Implement improvements to ensure benefits are realised and maintained
Once the improvement is implemented within the business, CI teams can analyse real-time data to ensure the benefits are realised and compare to the predictions drafted in the previous stage, by creating a data link into Silico. This will support your continuous improvement efforts and help the CI team identify any other areas of improvement within the process.
Further to this, Silico’s optimisation features allow you to choose which KPI you would like to maximise, and will automatically change variables such as FTE allocation, automation rates and throughput times to ensure the best outcome is met throughout the process.
Take your Continuous Improvement projects to the next level with Silico
Whether you are embarking on a transformation project, continuous monitoring and improvements, or maximising KPIs, Silico simulations ensure your business is always a step ahead by demonstrating how changes affect your business before implementation, saving you time, money and effort when cycling through your Continuous Improvement journey.