Incremental vs. Seismic

Process improvement projects tend to fall into two categories: incremental or seismic. 

Incremental projects are the small, minor, and often specifically
targeted improvement projects. Seismic projects are those that shift
ground, radically changing processes or people interfaces or software –
or all three. New ground is broken, or old ground is swept away and new
ground laid. Both categories have their advantages.

Advantages of incremental projects: 

  • Incremental projects are easier to schedule, plan, and implement.
  • Incremental projects can improve a process or
    approach a desired goal without major changes for users, administrators
    or system support.
  • Being incremental, such projects are more likely
    to garner buy in by stakeholders, increasing the odds of successful
    implementation.
  • And, lastly, in a worst case scenario, if the project is not successful, the incremental projects can usually be rolled back.

Advantages of seismic projects:

  • Big changes can equal big improvements.
  • There are times that major changes are necessary, such as when new equipment or software is obsoleted and being replaced.
  • With buy in by stakeholders, seismic projects can make great leaps forward in one fell swoop.
  • Planning a large seismic project requires by its
    nature involvement by all other work groups, departments, and players.
    The success of the project requires all involved parties, and thus they
    are involved from the start. This will result in the project reflecting
    the needs of all parties, as long as they are given a voice in all
    discussions…read more

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