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Optimizing Organizational Processes: Lean Six Sigma Tools can Help!

February 1, 2021

By Simpliaxis

Introduction

 

We often believe that the destination and the milestones we have achieved shape our lives. However, what matters most is the path traversed to accomplish these milestones rather than the destination achieved. It is this path that determines the level of success in attaining the goal. Further, it is the choice of the path which decides whether we would reach our planned destination or not.

Concepts such as Six Sigma and Lean help optimize such organizational processes using various Lean Six Sigma Tools. The use of Six Sigma Tools reduces defects in products, processes, and services, and losses rising thereof due to variations and deviations in the processes.

Six Sigma denotes the standardization of processes and methods such that the processes of any organization can be improved to deliver standardized results (as strategically planned and expected) by reducing the process variations and the resultant defects in products and services because of such variations. Six Sigma methods help the organizations achieve six sigma qualities in the organization’s production and general management.

 

Six Sigma Tools

 

Six Sigma is a method that has been strategically developed to benefit organizations in multiple ways. Its strategically and scientifically developed method uses various tools to improve the efficiency and efficacy of organizational processes. Some of the Six Sigma Tools include:
 

  • Statistical Process Control (SPC): This particular tool, as the literal name suggests, uses statistical processes and methods to control the organization’s processes.
     
  • Control Charts: This tool usually prepares statistical charts to determine the organizational process’s variances from the strategically selected process levels.
     
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA): This tool detects the failures and analyzes the criticality of such losses in business processes. 
     
  • Process Mapping: Processes are usually standardized, and the organizational units need to follow them. The process mapping diagrams generally help the organizations understand the process in just one look.
     

Lean Six Sigma: Some of the Tools Used
 

  1. DMAIC: This tool is a qualitative tool that defines, measures, analyzes, improves, and controls the process. This tool helps to strategize the process improvement strategy of the organization.
     
  2. Poka-Yoke: Poka-Yoke is a Japanese terminology that means mistake-proofing. As the literal translation indicates, adopting this lean six sigma tool would help the employees check each process throughout the value chain. The final production is mistake-proof or devoid of any mistake, especially mistakes or errors related to human actions.
     
  3. Kaizen: Kaizen is again a Japanese terminology that means continuous improvement. Adopting Kaizen technology would mean observing the process flow thoroughly, identifying the areas of improvement within the process flow, and improving (incrementally) the process flow, wherever required, throughout the process flow within the organization. Kaizen practice would involve all the organization’s employees in reducing the waste by reducing the inefficiencies and redundancies in the process.
     
  4. Value Stream Mapping: This is an essential tool of Lean Six Sigma. Using this tool, the organization creates a schematic representation of how the value flows within the organization. This tool can be understood in two steps:
     
    • Initially, a drawing is created to represent the actual flow of material and information within the organization. When this value diagram is made, the organizational representative will get a clear picture of where the organizations’ redundancies and inefficiencies lie. This diagram would also clearly indicate where process changes and standardizations are required.
       
    • Based on this first drawing, the organizational representative would then draw a futuristic value stream. This futuristic value stream would include the ideal flow of value (both information and another resource) within the organizational process. This futuristic diagram would be created to cut down all the inefficiencies and redundancies in the organization’s operations. This futuristic representation would help the organizational management strategically plan the future course of action for the organization. Therefore, this futuristic representation is crucial since this would form the framework of organizational strategy formulation.
       
  5. Pareto Chart: Pareto Charts are graphical representations highlighting the differences between sets or groups of data. Such representation of data differences would help the Lean Six Sigma Team understand the areas where deviations are happening and the extent of deviation in terms of organizational efficiencies. This chart has often been acknowledged as the most useful Lean Six Sigma Tool as it highlights the areas and issues. Usually, 20 percent of such issues lead to 80 percent of the problems of the organizational processes. Therefore, such a chart can help the organization save more while increasing efficiencies of the processes.
     
  6. 5 Whys: Originating during the Japanese Industrial Revolution around 1930, this simple method helps deal with moderately difficult problems that keep creeping back from time to time. The process is quite simple and can be used in combination with other lean six sigma tools. The process follows the rule that whenever the problem creeps back, the process managers need to ask the simple question ‘why’ five times. This would often lead to a justifiable solution to permanently solve the problem.
     
  7. 5S: This tool is essentially a Lean Management tool. This tool helps reorganize the workplace so that the organization is cleaner, safer, more organized, and certainly more uncluttered to work. This reorganization of the workplace helps optimize productivity while reducing the wastage of resources (including time and effort) within the organization. The 5S include Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke).
     
  8. Seven Wastes: This tool is again a Lean Management tool that helps eliminate redundancies and wastages for the business process
     

Benefits and uses of implementing Lean Six Sigma
 

An organization practicing the Lean Six Sigma Methods to optimize its processes is comparable to a fit and to take up each day’s work with full energy and perfection. Some of the primary benefits of implementing and using Lean Six Sigma Methods and Lean Six Sigma Tools include:
 

  • The organizations gain a competitive edge over their competitors in the market by reducing the business processes’ inefficiencies and variances while enhancing the organization’s productivity and operations.
     
  • The organizations are bound to have streamlined processes that would help the organization gain standardization in its processes and quality of delivery.
     
  • Organizations can considerably reduce their losses and wastages following these methods and using the Lean Six Sigma Tools and Six Sigma Tools.
     
  • Thus, the organization can be a sustainable organization that can survive the harshness of the market under all circumstances by controlling and managing its processes well.
     
  • Finally, the organization can quickly reduce its costs by reducing the wastages and increasing its processes efficiencies. This benefit of cost reduction can then be transferred to the customers by establishing the organization as a low-cost producer of the market’s goods and services.
     

Organizations need to optimize processes for enhancing their sustainability while increasing their profits. Both these objectives can be achieved by using Lean Six Sigma methods and Lean Six Sigma Tools.

 

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