Involves using systems analysis to improve resource utilization in a process.
The word "process" is used to connote a series of actions undertaken to accomplish an objective. An example is a hotel would have a process to register guests and assign rooms. The process would surely include conveying a key to the room to the guest.
Process improvement comes in two versions: ad hoc, or one time/incremental, process improvement and continuous process improvement. Either one involves using the tools of systems analysis to evaluate a process for opportunities to generate more added value for a given resource commitment or to provide the same value for fewer resources.
Often a process improvement effort will result in a structural change such as implementing new technology. To build on our hotel example, implementing magnetic strip key-cards in place of conventional keys might result in both greater customer satisfaction AND a savings in resources, but not without modifying all the doors to use the key-cards. Still the cost of doing so might be justified over the life of the new technology in terms of cost savings and customer value added. On the other hand, many process improvement efforts fail to live up to their promise. Process improvement is both an art and a science in matching the selected technology to the production environment, all while keeping a laser focus on customer value added.