Factors that affect the outcome of process improvement programmes in South African firms.

Process Improvement programmes are often embarked on in organisations to close gaps in performance. It is becoming increasingly important to understand what the drivers of success are of these improvement programmes to maximise the investment (effort and monetary) in these programmes. Using the Process Improvement classification of Slack and Lewis (2008) and the framework Lok et al. (2005) as the premise of this research, the study aimed to identify what factors affect the outcome of Process Improvement programmes in South African firms. To answer the research question and evaluate the hypotheses, a qualitative study was undertaken. Using purposive sampling, a set of companies that met the criteria of having undergone Process Improvement programmes in the past 0- 5 years was determined. A total of 20 individuals from 15 different organisations were interviewed. The study has confirmed that the factors as identified by Lok et al. (2005) are considered important factors that influence the outcome of Process Improvement programmes in selected South African organisations as well. The factors that were confirmed included: strategic alignment, structural alignment, IT alignment, executive commitment and employee empowerment. In addition, a further set of five factors were identified in the study that were of significance and were critical to the success of Process Improvement programmes: value and clarity of the proposed changes; pace of the change; inherent culture of an organisation; sustainability of the change; and skills.