Framework to Evaluate Continuous Improvement Process Efficacy: A Case Study of a Capital Goods Company

Gorka Unzueta, Aritz Esnaola, José A. Eguren


Purpose: This document describes a continuous improvement process assessment system (CIPAS). A continuous improvement process (CIP) was developed to progress through the levels of continuous improvement (CI) defined by Bessant, Caffyn and Gallagher (2001), and the CIPAS was developed to measure this evolution. The CIP and the CIPAS were tested in a mature industrial small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) cooperative company (Basque Country, Spain) that works in the capital goods sector.

Methodology/Approach: The study was developed according to an ‘action research’ strategy (Coughlan and Coghlan, 2002) over a period of two years. The action research team includes the authors and managers of several areas of the studied company.

Findings: The assessment identified critical elements and related routines for the effective execution of the CIP in this company. In addition, the evaluation system allowed for a visualisation of the company’s CI maturity level progression.

Research Limitation/implication: The assessment system was designed in an ad hoc manner for this CIP and this industrial company, but it may be possible to adapt these to other types of companies by using the steps followed and indicators defined as an example.

Originality/Value of paper: The CIPAS is used to identify the key CI elements, to measure the evolution of CI routines, and to identify a CI maturity level of the company in which the CIP is applied. It can be applied to any type of company and serves to define future actions for its evolution.


continuous improvement assessment; continuous improvement process; industrial case study; action research

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