Using the Audits Approach with StreamLiner

If you are challenged with improving a business process and don't know where to begin, using an audit approach is a really good way to get started.

Often audits are considered to be tools that only 'auditors' use when completing a Health and Safety review or an internal audit as part of a recognised quality management system. Audits are a brilliant tool that anyone can use, and are an approach that is built into our StreamLiner software.

A good business process is a stable one. Its bugs have been ironed out, people understand the reason for the process and how to complete it. A good process is fully adopted by the staff of a business. Ensuring that you have adherence to a process is the simplest of ways to get started with a business process improvement activity.

To get an audit started you need to know what 'good' looks like. You need to know the correct sequence of activities, you need to know about the speed of activities and any related quality checks that are part of the process. The first part of creating an audit is to really understand what the gold standard is for that process and define some questions to help you determine if your business is making the grade.

The StreamLiner software allows you to capture your audit questions and then print out a ready to use form to capture the results. Armed with the questions you can then visit the process and find evidence to determine if your process is being complied with (or not). If you are new to auditing bear this next point in mind. Don't accept the information you receive on face value - dig a little and make sure there is substance behind the statement. For example, if you are checking that a plan is available for the delivery of a project and you get a 'yes' response to the question, ask to see the plan. No plan equals no evidence equals a non-compliance with the process. You don't have to be mean, but you do need to be thorough.

StreamLiner's functionality allows you to capture your audit findings (for future review and as a record) and also convert any of the issues you find into improvement actions. This is done directly through the audit form within StreamLiner and allows for the quick capturing of improvement opportunities.

Auditing is only one of the functions within StreamLiner and it can be combined with other tools, such as the Process Analysis, 5S and CCC (Concern, Cause and Countermeasure) tools, to provide a thorough evaluation of any business process.

StreamLiner

Find out more about the StreamLiner continuous improvement project software by clicking here.

The actions that come out of the audit can then be evaluated using our BCS approach. BCS stands for Benefit, Cost and Speed and is a simple scoring system that allows you to quickly evaluate each improvement. The reason for doing this is that you are able to prioritise your efforts so that you can get the biggest return on time (and in some cases cost) for your business improvement projects. Actions can be managed in many other ways, but the combination of BCS and completion date are two of the best to make change happen in a business.

StreamLiner also helps you manage all of your actions in one place. Let's say that you chose to use the audit tool and waste walking and the CCC approach, StreamLiner lets you optimise your efforts across all of their outputs. You have one improvement plan that has been blessed with ideas from numerous sources. The time you would normally have to spend juggling different improvement plans has now been slashed. One piece of software and one plan per improvement project.

Auditing is only part of the StreamLiner offering, but is a great way to get the improvement conversation started in your business. Get your copy of StreamLiner today and see just how easy it can be to make change happen in your business.

Giles Johnston

Smartspeed Consulting Limited

Author of Business Process Re-Engineering and co-creator of the 'StreamLiner' continuous improvement software tool.