How Consultants Help Companies with their Lean Six Sigma Roll out

This serves as an overview of what consulting and advisory services are being offered by consultant to the clients who have an identified need for process improvements using Lean Six Sigma methodology.

Description of Lean Six Sigma
Six Sigma is a process improvement project-based methodology that uses the widely known DMAIC project steps.  It focuses on identifying and solving the root causes that results to process performance variations/inconsistencies, complaints, errors or reworks.
“Lean” is a process improvement technique which originated from Toyota Production Systems which focuses on the speed and velocity of the process to make it capable of delivering the right number of throughput to the customers or meet the requirements earlier than the target deadline.
In most service industries, what delights the customers is usually getting what they need on or before the agreed turn around time.  Thus, the Six Sigma experts proposed combining the 2 techniques – Lean and Six Sigma.  Then, Lean Six Sigma came about.
In effect, using DMAIC steps a process improvement project manager identifies and solves the root causes of delays and the process constraints where the end result is generally a reduction in the processing or servicing turn around time.
To date, Lean Six Sigma has been widely applied for process intensive industries like banking, BPOs, customer service (end to end) and of course manufacturing.

Benefits from Lean Six Sigma Roll out
With the increase in process velocity and elimination of process constraints, many businesses have financially benefited but not limited in the following ways:
a.) Reduced overtime
b.) Increase in throughput or manpower productivity
c.) Less scrap, returns or customer complaints
d.) Right sizing of manpower
e.) Increase in Customer satisfaction or Customer retention

High Level Roll Out Plan
Depending on the timeframe of the client company, maximum benefit comes from a full blown enterprise-wide implementation but it takes 5 to 10 years.  But if the client company wants to see results fast, a pilot program approach can also be implemented to focus on specific areas or special processes which are deemed critical to the company’s business performance.
A typical roll-out master plan conforms to some sort of organizational change management framework and is adjustable according to the timelines and budget.  The master plan usually contains the following major efforts.
a.) Awareness campaign through enterprise-wide training for appreciating what Lean Six Sigma is and what it can do
b.) Training for the executives who will steer and direct the projects to the right direction
c.) Training, project coaching and belt certification for the employees who will do hands-on work in driving process improvement efforts
d.) Rewards and recognition system setup
e.) Project benefits valuation and reporting system setup
f.) Program for communicating the program successes

Usually Offered Services by a Consultant
Training – consultant provides training White Belt (8 hours), Green Belt (80 hours), Black Belt (100 hours)
Consulting or Project Coaching – Email, Web conference or On site
Program Management Advisory – consultant serves as the expert program manager functioning in the capacity of the high profile Master Black Belt

Business Innovation framework and Lean Six Sigma
“Where will Lean Six Sigma fit in to my company’s business innovation program?”. That is the usual question asked by a business leader who drives the business innovation and transformation.
This is where the “Innovation Funnelling” technique comes into place.  Innovation funnelling is a way of channelling the business innovation opportunities into each unique basket or pool of projects where each basket has been categorized as fit for specific implementation methodologies.  Innovation funnelling is usually done either by a Master Black Belt or the head of the business innovation program.
One company may have several baskets like Kaizen quickwins basket, Six Sigma project basket, business process reengineering basket, and IT project basket.  Each basket may be segregated according to the complexity of the change involved.

Can we send candidates to the Six Sigma training without a project?

Lean-Six-Sigma-Green-Belt-Certification-Process

“Can we send candidates to the Six Sigma Green Belt training without assigned projects OR do we assign projects first before sending the candidates to the training?”  

I was once asked by a friend working in a company who is about to roll out their own Six Sigma program starting first with the first batch of Green Belt Training.

My recommendation was:  Assign first a viable project to a candidate before sending him/her to the Six Sigma training.

CONS: Project planning will have to be done with top executives which could take time before deciding what project to assign to the Green Belt Candidate.

Workaround is to ensure there is a pool of planned projects at the start of every year from which projects can be chosen and assigned to the Belt Candidate.

PRO:  First, the candidates go to the training with something to work on after every lecture.  It is likely that they will apply what they learned on the assigned projects they bring in to the training class.

Without an assigned project to work on during the Six Sigma trainings, usually ends in a scenario where the candidate completes the training and passes the exam with all knowledge based on theoretical understanding of the lessons.  Secondly, it becomes likely that the Belt candidate will forget everything without actual application thus defeating the purpose of sending him/her to the training.

So, if you’re company is currently planning to send candidates to the Six Sigma training it is recommended that a carefully selected Six Sigma project be assigned first before they attend the sessions.

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Importance of Project Management skills

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Questions: Is project management skills important to have these days?

Answer: YES. Regardless of one’s background, a little or at best a working knowledge of how to run projects effectively would help one become successful in one’s career.

This is because many initiatives or opportunities such as launching new products or new services come up and are considered as “temporary work” / “ad hoc work” which all require a project management approach.

If you want some basics on how to run projects, try attending something like Six Sigma training or basic project management. Project management teaches us the framework, Six Sigma teaches us the detailed tools and techniques inside the framework.

“Not knowing how to start, what to deliver, and how to end can really make or break one’s career.”