4 Essential Steps to Lean Six Sigma Success

1. Assess the current state of your operations

The first step in any Lean Six Sigma project is to take stock of your current operations. In this phase of the project, the leaders will evaluate any data pertaining to your processes looking to understand demand and output. This is done by discussing the nature of the processes with process owners, and working with teams to map out and measure current production practices, identifying areas of waste/rework that can be streamlined. Analysis is key in this stage of the project, what is the data telling you about your current processes and how can they be improved?

In order to go lean and stay lean, you need to understand your customers and what they value. To satisfy your customers you will need to eliminate or at least reduce the wasteful activities that your customers would not wish to pay for.

2. Determine the Future State

When driving organizational transformation, the future state is the specific route defining the changes and strategies needed in order to ensure you achieve your targets. One of the most critical elements of an effective Lean Six Sigma strategy is ensuring that you’ve set a direction that is clearly aligned with your organization’s whole business plan so that all changes can be approached in a holistic manner, ensuring both employee and customer satisfaction.

It is also important at this stage to consider where technology can be leveraged in your Lean Six Sigma strategy.  Today’s robust software solutions integrate industry best practices, which are designed to help users manage even the most complex tasks at today’s rapid speed of business. Are any of the processes you currently perform manually better suited to automation? Global visibility and the flexibility to respond to economic and market changes in real time are among the most strategic initiatives any company can deploy in their future state plan to remain efficient and competitive.

3. Create action/implementation plans

Here a structured improvement effort is developed and put into action. Identifying and eliminating waste is the most fundamental step in the Lean Six Sigma process. However, on its own, it is rarely sufficient. Improved work streams and defined project schedules lead to leaner operations. Constant vigilance and weekly progress touch-points help to ensure consistency and expose further waste and quality problems ensuring processes can continue to be streamlined.

4. Measure post implementation success

What cannot be measured cannot be improved. By creating a measurement system, you can determine baseline performance and use the data in objective decision making and analysis post implementation. With data in hand, you can now communicate your findings (increased savings, lowered processing times, less FTE effort, happier customers etc.) to your key stakeholders and celebrate the successful outcome of your Lean Six Sigma initiative.