4 Tips for Making Lean Six Sigma Work in Services

Posted by on Apr 6, 2012 in Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

Although every situation is different, here are some suggestions and ideas that should help you get results faster when dealing with service or transactional processes.

  1. Start with the process.  Is it well understood by everyone?  Process maps, flow charts, value stream maps, etc. are all great tools to help you understand what’s going on.  As you walk the process, make sure you identify all the waste that is occurring and any bottlenecks you encounter.
  2. Precisely define the problem.  What is it you’re trying to improve?  Don’t overburden the organization and frustrate employees by taking on multiple minor projects.  Identify one thing that needs improved and go after it.
  3. Use facts and data to reduce ambiguity.  Generally, clarifying issues, measuring performance, and generating improvement in service areas is challenging because things are not often well defined.  One way to do to help this situation is to develop operational definitions.  A recent client had an account receivables project in which there was no clear definition of net 30.  Once a definition was established and communicated to customers results started to improve.
  4. Don’t overcomplicate the improvement process.  Initially, because things are generally not well defined in service and transactional processes, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit.  Data may not be available on many processes.  In this case, many of the advanced statistical tools won’t be needed until the organization matures.  Remember, Lean Six Sigma evolves in an organization so add tools as they’re needed and can be used effectively.

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