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Continuous Improvement blogWhat makes a good Continuous Improvement Project Proposal?

A well thought out Project Proposal is key to delivering a successful Continuous Improvement Project. It helps you to plan what you are hoping to achieve before you commit any significant project time or resources.

In my experience there are eight key considerations that, if you pay attention to, will pave the way to creating a good Continuous Improvement Project Proposal.

Project Description

The first part of the Project Proposal is to come up with an explanation that describes what the project is about. We are trying to briefly describe it in a way that if someone picks up your proposal, they can very quickly understand the focus area for your Continuous Improvement. An example of a Project Description that is relevant to the HE sector may be: “To improve the recruitment process for PGR students from enquiry through to application submission”

Project Motivation

The second consideration to think about and then describe, is the motivation for undertaking the project in the first place. Why do you want to do this project? What is the problem you are trying to address? Some common threads that often create the desire to improve a process are as follows:

  • The current process takes too long to deliver
  • The process is still paper based and not transparent
  • Current resources across the process are dis-jointed
  • Inconsistency in ways of working across the faculty
  • Poor customer service

The motivation for your project needs to be credible, with obvious benefits, and be described in a way that can be easily understood.

Project Scope

The third part of a good Project Proposal is defining the scope of your planned intervention. What is within scope? To answer this question, you need to think about where the current process starts and where it ends. This will help you to define the scope of your project. Equally important is to think about what is not in scope. Just answering the scoping questions will help you to avoid project creep and ensure that your activities stay relevant and focused on what needs to be delivered.

Project Objectives

The next key consideration is to think about the objectives for your project. What do you hope to achieve as a result of the intervention and what are the desired outcomes? Some typical examples of objectives are as follows: 

  • Consistent and efficient end to end process
  • Improved Standard Operating Procedures
  • Documented Process
  • Improved use of digital technology
  • Removal of single points of failure

Key Deliverables

Following on from your Project Objectives another key consideration is your Project Deliverables. What are the project deliverables? What outputs will there be from the project? What tangible assets will have been created because of your intervention? Some examples of project deliverables are as follows: 

  • Documented procedures
  • Agreed set of roles and responsibilities
  • Focused training material for new process
  • Documented Process Map for new way of working
  • Guides for new way of working
  • Improvement Plans

Expected Benefits

Expected benefits are also a key consideration when formulating your project proposal. What benefits do you think will come from this project? What are the positive outcomes you hope to achieve? A benefit can be defined as outcomes delivered via the project which are perceived as positive by stakeholders. Examples of these are:

  • Experience and Engagement: improved stakeholder experience
  • Quality: waste reduction, increased compliance
  • Financial: cost saved, increased revenue, time save in hours
  • Capacity: staff savings, time saved, space saved
  • Operational: Lead time reduction, improved productivity
  • Sustainability: reduced carbon emissions, reduced material waste

Stakeholders

You should also think about the key stakeholders when you put together your Project Proposal. Who has an interest in this project? Who is impacted by it? Who could be a credible sponsor for this activity? Just listing who you think the key stakeholders are, can be a great way to decide who you think needs to get involved. This can be a starting point for establishing a project team and creating an effective engagement and communications plan

Risks

Finally, when creating your proposal, you should consider what are risks to completing the project?

Once you have identified the potential risks that could have the biggest impact, you should also think about what actions you could take, as part of your planning, to mitigate those risks as much as possible. Risks may include items such as:

  • Staff capacity
  • System capacity
  • Staff buy in

In conclusion, a good Continuous Improvement Project Proposal can be the difference between success and failure. If you think about these eight considerations ahead of time, you should go a long way to setting yourself up to deliver a successful Continuous Improvement Project with lasting positive benefits for your stakeholders.