What is Continuous Improvement?

by Sarah Mason

Continuous Improvement is a method of restarting the cycle to review, find changes needed, act to implement change, and then review results. This phase is usually after the completed development of a first version of a product or service and refers to the versions after. Continuous Improvement is a model that goes by many names, continual improvement, continuous quality improvement, continual quality improvement, quality improvement, and more. The official cycle is Identify, Plan, Act, and Review.


A continuous improvement process, also often called a continual improvement process, is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.


Identify is to establish the product, process that will be changed for improvement. By creating a focus, the cycle can begin. The process of selecting a focal point requires information about the past performance and current performance. Selecting by low performance as tracked against metrics, or by viewing ways that can enhance benefit or results is best practice.


Planning allows for creating tasks and gathering resources after identifying and establishing a need for change.


Act is the initiation of the plan to change the identified issue, process, or product for improvement.


Review is the process of looking at the data from the cycle and the upgraded or changed focal point. What was achieved? How can it be improved?


Continuous Improvement follows a four part cycle of Identify, Plan, Act, and Review. Using data for determining success is valuable to determine, set, and evaluate success with improvement projects. This methodology fits not only one type of framework, but PMI, Agile, and more.

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Sarah Mason is a Healthcare Data Analyst and Founder Sarah Mason Consulting LLC.

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