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What is Lean Six Sigma?

A set of tools and methods used to reduce waste, improve output, and increase flexibility in future planning.

Lean:  How the work flows through the system, reducing costs while optimising and improving performance.

Six sigma: Reduction of the variation in systems leading to greater predictability of output, thence control.

The combination allows for the blend of the best tools to be used where needed.

Although these methodologies were derived from manufacturing, it is recognised that all businesses have processes and processes can be improved so this has been successfully applied within the service sector environment. 

Is this another latest thing?

Elements of LSS have been used for the last 30 years in both manufacturing and service industries. What is slightly “new” is the way the application of the tools is used. We recognise that using the right tool in the right place will give results more easily than forcing the imposition of a rigid methodology into an existing business structure.

Why do we need it?

 Your customers won’t pay for waste, and you don’t want to either so why not remove it?

Each process will have inherent waste or slack, not deliberately put in, but usually inherited from previous models or ways of working.

Delivering consistent quality across all of your products and services is a key factor in all successful organisations that recognise their market is ever changing. Building flexibility into processes allows for adaption to changing business environments in reduced time frames allowing you to be first to market new products and services.

How does it work?

Internal teams, who usually know their processes better than outsiders, gather the appropriate tools to work on their process improvement. Guidance is given where needed to select and use the best tool for the job giving improvements to your bottom line.

There is a pathway following the Training, Leading, Coaching models. Depending on the level of internal expertise and skills, it may be a blended approach would work with your organisation, or simply some advice on using existing internal methodologies to best advantage.

There is a clear structure, DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control, which is used to guide the improvement processes. How deep the application of the principles needs to go is adapted to suit the circumstances, no need for the sledgehammer and nut approach.

What will it cost?

The benefits gained will pay for the work needed to realise the improvement, so it effectively pays you to use it.

Do we need to have dedicated staff doing this?

Over a relatively short time ,the methodology becomes the way you work every day, rather than putting on your “LSS hat” it becomes the standard way of working. For larger specific projects there may be a need to take time to work on a problem exclusively.

How can I get this to work in my business?

Flexible options allow tailoring to suit both the size and complexity of the business.

  1. Direct consultancy; we come to you and use lean tools and the DMAIC framework to apply to a specific problem or department. There is an agreed fee for the time spent and an agreed percentage of the benefit realised. This is one of the incentives for us to make a tangible, measurable difference.
  2. Mixed learning; internal teams are trained to use the tools to the level required, with mentoring and input when needed. Implementation plans are co-developed and structured to allow improvements delivered by the teams pay for the training and realise net gains. A percentage of the net benefits gained is charged to make sure that actual benefits are measurable and tangible.  
  3. Training only; we train your personnel in the selection and use of tools relevant to your business needs. Application of the tools and implementation of the improved process is left to the business to apply.

We have worked with a wide variety of organisations from both the manufacturing and service sectors.

 Manufacturing has ranged from low volume high value through to high volume consumables.

 Service industries have been very diverse:

International legal practitioners standardising their billing and invoice systems with particular regard to local legal requirements

Multi-client call centre back office processes

Business insurance customer service support

Civil engineering contractor schedule management systems

Local housing agency system interaction design

Local council service coordination systems

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