PHOTO:All Rights, Microsoft Corporation
For most managers of corporate services, and for those who own and manage their own services, the idea of "Continuous Improvement" is still a strange new idea. Nevertheless, continuous improvement is how we get all the "stuff" we have today: refrigerators, cars, phones, computers, etc. We expect manufactured goods to be better (cheaper, more features, faster, etc.) than the previous model they replaced. Over a few years, we find more features that work better, than the old model.
Look at your smart phone. It has features that didn't exist just a few years ago. Your phone is a better phone, but it is also a camera. You no longer need a separate camera (or video cam, digital recorder, eReader, etc.). However, continuous improvement is about more than manufacturing. Athletes continually train for better performance, learn from their mistakes, and go on to break world records. Each new generation of athletes sets new records. What about your service? Are you setting (and achieving) ever higher goals each year? When your firm sets new goals, do you exceed them?
Consider your billing process. You print, fold and stuff envelopes, put on stamps and send it out. Then you get back envelopes, open them, sort out checks, look for notes (complaints and comments) in the envelops, compare arriving envelopes with billing, re-bill accounts that haven't paid, etc. You might figure out a few ways to improve the process (buy a faster printer, get a letter stuffing machine?), but you're not expecting to revolutionize the process. For most of us, we do our billing today pretty much the way we did 10 years ago.
If you outsource to the Cloud, you can vastly improve the process. A Cloud based billing system could assemble and mail out your billing every month. Perhaps your customers would want to pay electronically, reducing time and postage? Continuous improvement could bring us revolutionary productivity in the coming years. Care to join the revolution?