continuous improvement specialist

Continuous Improvement Specialist Job Description

By Published On: September 1, 2022

In order for a company to stay on top of its game, it needs to be constantly looking at ways to perform more efficiently. Current processes need to be analyzed and changes made where improvements will optimize the organizational performance. A Continuous Improvement Specialist has this responsibility. A Continuous Improvement Specialist analyzes a company’s processes and makes suggestions on how to improve them, working with the Operations and Supply Chain teams in recognizing opportunities, making and implementing changes, and sustaining improvements. This position is most often found, but not exclusively, in a manufacturing company.

Similar Job Titles

  • Process Improvement Specialist
  • Continuous Improvement Engineer
  • Continuous Improvement Technician

Continuous Improvement Specialist Overview

A Continuous Improvement Specialist is highly competent as a process manager and uses a variety of skills such as project design, leadership, and management in order to ensure performance and process development. The person in this position is responsible for using Lean Six Sigma principles to drive continuous improvement initiatives and operational excellence. This role is involved in planning, scheduling, and implementing continuous improvement activities (such as Kaizen) on the production floor of a manufacturing facility.

Primary responsibilities of a Continuous Improvement Specialist

  • Identifying opportunities for process improvement, waste removal, and cost reduction
  • Planning, facilitating, and executing continuous improvement events using Lean Six Sigma tools
  • Teaching, leading, and coaching cross-functional teams on Lean Six Sigma tools and methodology
  • Working to continuously improve processes both on the production floor as well as transactional by collaborating with multiple functions such as logistics

Some core responsibilities of the Continuous Improvement Specialist:

  • Clearly defining program objectives and scope
  • Evaluating and prioritizing potential improvements based on gains and required effort
  • Securing employee commitment (ex: process managers) for proactive change management
  • Establishing a clear and well-articulated implementation plan
  • Establishing criteria for the project’s success and preparing a sound statement of constraints/limiting factors
  • Appropriately implementing principles of governance
  • Resolving technical problems such as formulation, equipment, product, interpretation of regulations, and resource availability
  • Identifying intervention priorities and indicators
  • Conducting detailed analysis of the current situation that accurately describes the issues
  • Specifying deliverables, outcome indicators, and performance-measured indicators
  • Identifying available resources (for example, people, material, and finances)
  • Mapping out in detail the desired situation
  • Clearly defining methodology
  • Accurately analyzing options including impact and feasibility
  • Specifying obstacles and ways to overcome them through continuous improvement
  • Regularly monitoring the implementation of solutions to achieve objectives and expected benefits

Required and Desired Skills

Continuous Improvement Specialists need to have a passion for not being satisfied with the status quo. Complacency is definitely NOT something that a CI Specialist adheres to. They are motivated to pursue positive change and work with employees in facilitating recommended changes. A successful continuous improvement specialist has excellent verbal and written communication skills and an ability to communicate with all levels of employees from upper management to production floor workers. They work with all positions to explain the reasons for changing processes and how to make those changes. Using Lean Six Sigma methodologies, the continuous improvement specialist leads the improvement efforts and trains others to implement them. 

Being organized and adept at weighing and managing priorities is key for a successful continuous improvement professional since there can be competition for what is handled and when. Using keen analytical skills and synthesizing information comes into play when determining how current processes can be improved.

Soft Skills:

  • Passion for Continuous Improvement
  • Ability to communicate with all levels within the organization
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Predisposition to teach leaders a zero defect mentality
  • Ability to weigh and manage priorities
  • Skilled at synthesis and analysis
  • Detail oriented
  • Flexibility and diplomacy when dealing with staff and coworkers
  • Ability to make decisions as well as influence decision-making
  • Strong work habits focusing on safety, quality, and productivity
  • Organizational skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Project management
  • Customer service

Hard Skills:

  • Continuous Improvement
  • 5S
  • Lean Manufacturing
  • Kaizen
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Proficiency in commonly used and specialized software
  • Strong working knowledge of Microsoft Suite, including advanced skills with Excel
  • Demonstrated ability to work in high paced and changing environments

Required/Desired Education and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in business administration, finance, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, or a related field. Some employers require a Master’s Degree in management or operations.
  • Quality improvement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma
  • Continuous Improvement Manager certification can demonstrate professionalism
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A Day in the Life of a Continuous Improvement Specialist

A typical day for a Continuous Improvement Specialist may find themselves engaged in any of these activities:

  • Working with employees on Kaizen events on the production floor
  • Providing support to the production staff to ensure that implemented lean principles are being understood
  • Reading and analyzing data on current processes
  • Interpreting documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals
  • Using math skills to compute rates, ratios, and percentages
  • Drawing and interpreting bar graphs
  • Providing employees in a Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) role with information regarding scheduled Kaizen events, lean manufacturing training, and Kaizen event results
  • Leading Kaizen events

Typical Working Conditions for a Continuous Improvement Specialist

This role has a variety of working conditions such as in an office, production floor, and warehouse. In order to perform the functions required for the position, a Continuous Improvement Specialist may need to stand, climb, balance, walk, stoop and kneel. Some environments may require lifting weights of 25 to 35 pounds.

Technology Enhancements

Continuous improvement and technology work together to eliminate complexity and identify better ways of working through innovation. Some common software systems used in a continuous improvement role are:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Supply-Chain Management (SCM)
  • New Product Development (NPD)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

ERP links all business functions like manufacturing and finance, thereby reducing database errors and ensuring faster delivery and order fulfillment. This can be a helpful tool for a Continuous Improvement Specialist.

Continuous Improvement Specialist Salary Range and Benefits

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a Continuous Improvement Specialist in the U.S. is approximately $86,000, with a range between $72,500 and $97,500. Salaries vary depending on education, certifications, the number of years you have spent in the profession, and additional skills.

Benefits for a Continuous Improvement Specialist are a complete package including:

  • 401(k) 
  • 401(k) matching
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • AD&D insurance
  • Vision insurance

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