Why Not the Best? Elliance, Inc. Adopts Toyota’s Approach to Continuous Improvement

July 18, 2007

It isn’t every day you see a to-do list with 1,000 items listed, that is, unless you’re the e-marketing company, Elliance, Inc. With innovation a top priority, Elliance has developed a way to ensure employee suggestions are heard. It’s something called Kaizen.

In Japanese, Kaizen means “continuous improvement,” and that’s just what Elliance CEO, Abu Noaman had in mind when he implemented the company-wide to-do list.

Elliance was inspired by the concept of Kaizen practices at Toyota, where it usually involves a small group improving their own work environment and productivity.

Since Elliance is a small company, they were able to expand Toyota’s approach to involve every employee. By empowering all employees to suggest improvements, Noaman believes Elliance has created a culture of continuous sustained development.

“It’s more than a task list,” says Noaman. “Kaizen is a way for everyone in the company to have their suggestions heard, and for something to be done about it.”

And one of the best things about Kaizen – it’s very easy to use. Located on the company Intranet, it takes less than a minute to type in a problem, yet it has a profound impact on the company’s ability to serve customers and stay ahead of the game.

After eight years of adding and crossing off items on Kaizen, the company has finally reached the 1,000 mark on items that have been completed.

“I think it’s a real testament to our continuous improvement, that as a small company we’ve been able to listen to so many suggestions and implement 1,000 changes in the last eight years,” says Noaman. “This means that, on average, about 10 items a month have been fixed. I think that’s pretty amazing.”

In essence, at Elliance, Kaizen formalizes a way to capture people’s ideas. Kaizen submissions range from changes to the company’s Intranet to customer suggestions passed on to the Elliance support team. Employees can rank their suggestion on priority from “lowest” to “urgent,” expediting the process if necessary.

With the company’s continual expansion, entries in Kaizen are going to continue to grow, and so are the changes. In other small companies, ideas can get lost under a pile of Post-It Notes. What has to be done on a daily basis often overshadows what should be done for long-term growth. Elliance has made it a priority for ideas to be heard, and changes to be made.

For more information about Elliance, visit www.elliance.com.

About Elliance
Elliance is an e-marketing software and services company serving progressive mid-size companies, colleges and universities, and non-profits. Clients served include, AlliedBarton Security Services, Black Box, Mellon/Dreyfus, HydroWorx, Allegheny Ludlum, Carnegie Mellon University, Waterpik Technologies, Readers Digest and others. During its 14 years of experience, Cisco, Dell, the eMarketing Association and others have cited Elliance as one of the top innovators in the use of technology to deliver search engine optimization (SEO), e-commerce and e-marketing solutions.