Lean Six Sigma Methodology

Lean Six Sigma Methodology

Kshama Rangan

Published on January 3, 2013


Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that combines tools and methods of both Lean and Six Sigma, as the name implies. While Lean focuses on speed and flow, Six Sigma process focuses on quality (defects and process variation). Lean does not make a process stable or under statistical control.

What is Lean?

Lean is a philosophy and set of management techniques focused on continuous “eliminating waste” so that every process, task or work action is made “value adding” (the real output customer pays for!!) as viewed from customer perspective. Lean “waste elimination” targets the “Eight Wastes” namely:
• Overproduction - making or doing too much or too early
• Transportation - moving people, product, material, and information
• Motion - unnecessary human movement
• Correction - product, material, and information that needs fixing
• Over Processing - anything that is done to the product, material, and information that does not add value to the product or service
• Inventory - product, material, and information that is waiting to be worked
• Waiting - people waiting for product, material, and information to arrive
• Unused Employee Ideas & Talent - people's ideas not being captured and talents not being utilized Six Sigma does not improve the flow of information and material through a process. Nor does Six Sigma reduce non-value-added time, movement, effort, inventory, and invested capital. Fusing the two should result in better quality faster and the reduction in cost and complexity.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma

Increases Revenue

Lean Six Sigma increases your organization’s revenue by streamlining processes. Streamlined processes result in products or services that are completed faster and more efficiently at no cost to quality.Simply put, Lean Six Sigma increases revenue by enabling your organization to do more with less –Sell, manufacture and provide more products or services using less resources.

Decreases Cost

Lean Six Sigma decreases your organization’s costs by:
• Removing “Waste” from a process. Waste is any activity within a process that isn’t required to manufacture a product or provide a service that is up to specification.
• Solving problems caused by a process. Problems are defects in a product or service that cost your organization money. Basically, Lean Six Sigma enables you to fix processes that cost your organization valuable resources.

Increases Efficiency

Lean Six Sigma improves the efficiency of your organization by:
• Maximizing your organization’s efforts toward delivering a satisfactory product or service to your customers
• Allowing your organization to allocate resources/revenue produced from your newly improved processes towards growing your business. Simply put, Lean Six Sigma enables you to create efficient processes so that your organization can deliver more products or services, with more satisfied customers than ever before.

Develops Effective people

Lean Six Sigma develops effective employees within your organization by:
• Involving employees in the improvement process. This promotes active participation and results in an engaged, accountable team.
• Building trust.

Transparency throughout all levels of the organization promotes a shared understanding of how each person is important to the organization’s success.Basically, Lean Six Sigma develops a sense of ownership and accountability for your employees. This increases their effectiveness at delivering results for any improvement project they are involved in. Quite often, this benefit is overlooked by organizations who implement Lean Six Sigma, but it’s underlying advantages dramatically increase the chances of continued success of Lean Six Sigma, and your business.

How Does Lean Six Sigma Work?

Lean Six Sigma is simply an effective methodology used to fix a problem. It is based on common sense practices and is completed in five phases:
1. Define: Define the problem and what is required to satisfy your customer.
2. Measure: Map the current process to collect data.
3. Analyze: Investigate and identify what causes the problem.
4. Improve: Implement a fix that will solve the problem.
5. Control: Sustain the improved results.

Simply put, Lean Six Sigma helps you identify the cause of a problem and implement a fix based on facts, rather than assumptions. This produces improved results and success that you and your team, managers and organization can be proud of.

Lean Six Sigma Key Principles

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful, proven method of improving business efficiency and effectiveness. In a nutshell, here are the key principles of Lean Six Sigma to bear in mind:
• Focus on the customer.
• Identify and understand how the work gets done (the value stream).
• Manage, improve and smooth the process flow.
• Remove Non-Value-Added steps and waste.
• Manage by fact and reduce variation.
• Involve and equip the people in the process.
• Undertake improvement activity in a systematic way.

Lean Six Sigma Tools

There are a multitude of Lean Six Sigma Tools, but not all of them are used often or prove to be as valuable as others. Below are some of the most valuable and most frequently used tools:

Tools frequently used in Define

• Project Charter
• Deployment Map
• VOC (Voice Of the Customer) Translation Matrix
• Tree Diagram

Tools frequently used in Measure

• Data Collection Plan
• Checksheets
• Operational Definitions
• Value Stream Map

Tools frequently used in Analyze

• Process Analysis
• Data Analysis
• Cause & Effect Diagram
• Value Stream Mapping

Tools frequently used in Improve

• Weighted Criteria Matrix
• To-Be Maps

Tools frequently used in Control

• Control Plan
• Response Plan
• Control Chart
• Documentation

About the Author

Kshama Rangan is an ISEB certified Corporate IT Trainer in UK and a software test professional, with more than 7 years of experience in a variety of technologies across multiple industry sectors combined with the complete understanding of Project Management, Agile Methodologies and Software Testing.


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