Continuous Improvement

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
BUSN 3390
Continuous Improvement
Commerce & Business Administration
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks x 4hrs per week = 60hours
Max Class Size
Course Designation
Industry Designation
Contact Hours
Lecture: 3 hours Seminar: 1 hour Total: 4 hours
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Lectures, in class simulations, video observation exercises and case analyses requiring extensive interaction with other students and instructor.

Course Description
This course is designed to improve the student’s ability to design, execute and control the operations of an organization by examining topics such as: process flow design and improvement; push and pull environments; the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) quality improvement framework; supplier relationships; and approaches to worker engagement. The focus is on gaining an understanding of the implementation of quality and waste minimization initiatives using industry accepted principles and techniques. Students will conduct a process improvement project, applying the principles and tools of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. This knowledge can be used to prepare for writing Lean and Six Sigma Green Belt exams.
Course Content
  1. Process and quality fundamentals, including: introduction to Total Quality Management (TQM); Just in Time (JIT); Lean; Six Sigma; ISO; and Plan-do-check-act (PDCA)
  2. Design principles and techniques, including: the choice of manufacturing environments, production processes, and layouts; batch versus flow process implications; and push versus pull principles
  3. Introduction to the DMAIC quality improvement framework
  4. Define phase tools: Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer (SIPOC) diagrams; voice of the customer; Quality Functional Deployment (QFD); and current state Value Stream Map (VSM)
  5. Measure phase tools: basic principles of measurement including  reliability and validity of data as well as overview of statistical methods; descriptive statistics, run charts; process capability analysis; and dashboards & balanced scorecards
  6. Analyze phase tools: the 7 Basic Quality Tools (cause-and-effect diagrams, check sheet, control charts, histogram, pareto charts, scatter diagram, stratification); A3 problem solving; and regression and correlation analysis of root causes
  7. Improve phase tools: creating flow through the use of Takt time, Line Balancing, Heijunka; implementing pull through the use of Kanbans and Standard Work; and Mistake Proofing through the use of Visual Management and 5S
  8. Control phase tools: Visual Management and Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA)
  9. Enabling a culture of continuous improvement
Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, successful students will be able to:
• analyze basic execution and control systems and techniques in the operations management field;
• examine the system wide implications of process flow and methods for achieving a smooth flow;
• defend the importance of data collection in measuring performance and perform statistical analysis to monitor processes and identify trends;
• design a project using process improvement principles to analyze a current situation, identify opportunities for improvement and recommend a well thought out implementation plan;
• use of Lean and Six Sigma tools and discuss the role culture, customers and employee involvement plays; and
• solve Lean and Six Sigma Green Belt exam questions.

Means of Assessment

Group Improvement Project(s)     20 - 35%
Assignments                                15 - 20%
Participation                                  0 - 10%
Midterm                                       15 - 25%
Final                                            25 - 35%

Students may conduct research as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans, which can require obtaining Informed Consent from participants and getting the approval of the Douglas College Research Ethics Board prior to conducting the research.

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students: Custom publication with relevant readings, cases and chapters taken from textbooks such as:

  • Gitlow, Howard, R.J. Melnyck, D.M. Levine, Guide to Six Sigma and Process Improvement for Practitioners and Students: Foundations, DMAIC, Tools, Cases, and Certification. Latest Edition (Pearson FT Press)
  • Cudney, Elizabeth, R. Kestle, Implementing Lean Six Sigma throughout the Supply Chain: The Comprehensive and Transparent Case Study. Latest Edition (Productivity Press)

or any alternative textbook/s approved by the Business Department


Minimum grade of C in BUSN 1210 and in either of BUSN 2429 or MATH 1160, or permission of the instructor


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses

Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses