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Continuous / continual improvement


QA professionals should constantly seek to pursue potential opportunities for improvement. This process is officially referred to as ‘continual improvement’ (the correct term according to the most recent ISO 9000:2015, which defines it as ‘recurring activity to enhance performance’). However, throughout the industry we see it referred to as ‘continuous improvement’ as well. There’s a lot of confusion between the terms, and they’re often used interchangeably.


As far as the common consensus goes; continual improvement has a notably incremental system, whereby improvements will be made, then there’s a pause to measure and analyse the success, and thereafter further improvements are made. Basically a stop/start model where improvements are made one after the other.

Continuous improvement, on the other hand, never stops. It’s a steady, uninterrupted and sustained process of development. One of the most common applications of continuous improvement is Lean. This approach aims to embed a culture of continuous improvement (Kaizen culture).


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