Never in our world’s history has the urgency of a digital transformation been more present than during this pandemic. Almost overnight, companies have had to bring their businesses online or risk major profit loss and going out of business. The businesses that have survived are the ones who were able to master a digital transformation, keeping them relevant in a time where in-person business suddenly became taboo. However, those that are thriving have been able to enact effective lean management strategies in tandem with their digital presence to create more thorough and efficient systems. 

LSS & DMAIC in the Digital World

The Digital Transformation Era has allowed Industry 4.0 technologies to flourish not only in the manufacturing industry but in a variety of businesses across the globe. The implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies has resulted in impressive cost savings, improved efficiency, and profound increases in customer satisfaction. By digitizing supply chain processes, companies have been able to collect larger data samples, allowing them to identify and track potential problems in their production more efficiently. 

Regardless of this success, many businesses are finding that the most effective way to implement their Industry 4.0 technologies is in a way that aligns with Lean Six Sigma or DMAIC standards. LSS and DMAIC’s emphasis on continuous improvement lends itself to the same basic tenants of Industry 4.0 standards, paving the way for the seamless introduction of lean management. 

Like LSS and DMAIC, Industry 4.0 focuses on a business process or procedure that makes the switch from manual labor to automation, such as cloud computing or 3D printing. This digital transformation allows the execution times of data acquisition and analytics to improve substantially. By relying solely on LSS or DMAIC, lean management teams struggled to obtain large enough data samples to analyze supply chain processes with consistently reliable efficiency. Even the most well-trained Lean management professionals have struggled with data management without the proper tools at their disposal. However, Industry 4.0 technologies, such as automated data collection, gives teams access to bigger data, providing a unique opportunity to make more informed business and process decisions. 

The best way to make these decisions is to utilize tried and true LSS tools that offer dynamic and robust analysis of complex processes. Industry 4.0 data is a huge win for many major companies, but paired with proven and efficient LSS tools, that data becomes that much easier to analyze. 

Lean Six Sigma and Agile for Companies Undergoing Digital Transformation

The pairing might seem odd, but it’s important not to feel constrained to a choice between the methodologies. Instead, embracing LSS and Agile in the digital world can bolster a company’s digital transformation. 

Lean management has been the gold standard for decades, and LSS has been the driving force behind establishing Lean strongholds in businesses across the globe. However, Lean does have its critics, most notably because a continuous improvement can sometimes feel too slow. This is where Agile can help. Arriving just two decades ago, Agile is a slightly quicker process, calling for an iterative approach to production. This enables faster production, speedier access to feedback, and higher turnaround for future iterative versions of the same product. While this isn’t ideal in all situations, it does have its merits for some of the more creative or innovative processes. 

The reason these two methodologies pair so nicely together is that they share similar foundational principles. They both do the following: 

  • Seek to add value to the customer experience. 
  • Seek to discover new ways to work, learn, and improve. 
  • Believe in transparent strategies and goals to provide meaning and purpose to the workforce.
  • Offer opportunities for leadership and contribution.

Relying on one methodology can prove problematic in that some tasks will lend themselves more easily to agile methods, while others will make more sense for LSS methods. A variety of tasks demands variety in methodological options to increase the likelihood of effective process execution. Predictability of the process, how often it’s repeated, and level of creativity or innovation required will often determine which methodology to implement. Still, a company should not sacrifice one in the service of the other. By finding ways to implement and utilize both strategies, companies have seen remarkable customer satisfaction and workforce engagement improvements.

5 Ways to Leverage Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC During a Digital Transformation

Workforce Education and Support Are Critical

Industry 4.0 technologies are continually evolving and may be unfamiliar to some members of the workforce. Providing access to emerging technologies and their uses will demonstrate leader support and ensure above-standard implementation. 

Assess Logistics and Supply Chain

Digitizing every aspect of the supply chain can provide both whole-line and individual process data, alerting key people to any potential issues within the supply chain. If done well, a failure in one area of the supply chain can inform another area of the supply chain to stop production before too much damage occurs. This digital transformation can have lasting and profound positive effects on cost, production, and customer satisfaction.

Analyze Current Processes

Using only Lean or Agile likely means there are missed chances for significant improvements to various processes. Lean and Agile both share fundamental similarities with slightly different execution styles, making each one useful and effective depending on the goal of the process. Many companies find that a combination of the two methodologies is most effective. 

Consider Hiring Lean Coaches or Consultants to Optimize Digital Transformation

Lean coaches are experts on methodologies like Six Sigma, DMAIC, and even Agile. If hiring a coach is too expensive, consider sending a few workforce members through a Lean Six Sigma training to augment Lean’s presence at the company and support an effective transition to digital. Simplilearn offers a Master’s program, which includes an industry-recommended learning path for anyone interested in learning more about Lean Six Sigma. In addition, Simplilearn is working diligently to launch a new post-graduate program in Lean Six Sigma that aims to develop the next generation of Lean experts in the era of Digital Transformation.

Remain Adaptable

With the emergence of Industry 4.0 and our rapidly changing environment, more change is inevitable. It’s hard to say what major changes the world will experience post-pandemic. Still, it’s crucial for companies to remain alert to the coming future and equip themselves to meet the challenges and opportunities that arise.

Interested in learning Lean Six Sigma and its importance? Check out the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course preview.

Become an Expert in the Age of Digital Transformation 

Ready to go to the next level? Look at the Post Graduate Program in Lean Six Sigma in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As organizations strive for continuous improvement, they look for management professionals that can use problem-solving skills to enhance processes. The master’s course positions you to take the lead in quality management projects. 

Make yourself a competitive choice for employers and get the management skills that businesses seek. Get started on becoming an expert in Lean management today.

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