Lean Six-Sigma can be referred to as a process that depends on facts, discipline, and statistics meant to remove defects and guide a project to perfection. According to Nilesh & Swati (2012), there is no specific definition of the six-sigma, it is the statistical measure of the performance of a project. Six-sigma jointly uses the best methods utilized in the past with present management achievements along with common sense. The main ideas that the processes based on are customer satisfaction, and defect reduction, thus reducing the cycle time. The management method is meant to earn more money for the stakeholders through the improvement of processes and process framework projects (George & George, 2003).
GE is one of the companies that publicly acknowledged having used the lean six-sigma strategy. The CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, went on to use it as a strategy to improve the company. The company used $250,000,000 to educate and train about 4000 Black Belts and Master Belts. He also trained an additional 60,000 Green Belts in 1997. GE utilized the measure-analyze-improve-control (MAIC). The company’s medical system implemented lean six-sigma in the manufacture of a $1.25 million scanner. The improved system improved the chest scanning time to just 17 seconds (Henderson & Evans, 2000).
One of the main advantages of using lean six sigma strategy is; it provides different metrics in the continuous improvement. The quantitative metrics used include process critical-to-quality metrics, sigma measurements, defect measures and process capability. The measurements are used in the implementation of goals. The metrics give the company an opportunity to base their decisions not on their political opinions, but instead on what the numbers show. Six sigma also integrates the business performance, process measures and the metrics into the management framework to make it easy for the stakeholders to guide the organization to its goal.
One of the criticisms of six-sigma is that it does not offer anything new, but simply repackages the old quality management practices. Nilesh & Swati, (2012) cites that most of the companies that claim to have a successful six-sigma were mainly helped by the fact that they held quality products even before they began. Additionally, lean six sigma can only be implemented by the superiors. Since the management is only interested in making profits, it may create conflict between the management and the subordinates.
Part B: Examples of short-term six sigma process
Improving customer service at the call centre (Providence Health centre)
The call centres was having problems getting the callers off the phone as quickly as possible and also give satisfactory answers. Despite many people being self-reliant, some still need help. Therefore, call centres become important to help out such people. There hundreds of callers every minute and the employees helping them out need to know how to coordinate the whole process.
When a customer makes a call, he or she expects services to be delivered with the best standards. The call company noticed that some of the callers were calling multiple times, therefore increasing the workload. This was because they were not satisfied with the answers. Therefore, the call centre needed to improve their response to reduce the repeat calls. Additionally, they also needed to reduce the call time for each call to increase the number of customers they can serve in a shorter time. The Define-measure-analyse-improve-control method was important in identifying the specific problem. The define phase will help the team lay out the possible problems. The measure phase helps the team quantify the extent of the problem. In analyses, the team can compare the collected data with the estimated problem (Pepper & Spedding, 2010).
Improving staff scheduling at Providence healthcare centre
The healthcare centre found out that the amount of money spent on the staff was higher than the national average in 2004. The goal of the process therefore, was:
- To match the right person to the right place
- Meet the budget
- Schedule the forecasting needs
Some of the areas that seemed to have an over budget included the critical care unit. The team participating in the implementation of six sigma needed to effectively collect data to determine the areas that needed the improvements. For the hospital to prevent over budgets, they needed to make sure that every worker is correctly matched with their appropriate duties. Additionally, the team in charge needed to accurately collect data and find out what exactly was causing the over budgets. The DMAIC method could be used to determine which specific areas were causing the over expenditure. The method would also help identify which staff needed to be relocated to other duties. The define phase can be used to identify the areas that needed alterations. The measure phase is where they needed to collect the metrics of each area identified. During the analysis phase, the team should gather data. The analysis phase will help the team compare the actual data collected with the theories.
A Balanced Scorecard
A balanced scorecard is a management system that looks for four perspectives: customer, financial, process, and growth in order to meet the company’s goals. The balanced scorecard helps companies: analyze their operational strategy. This allows the organization to focus on the factors helping them achieve long-term growth. They also help turn strategy to action. It is done by taking four other factors into account rather than just the financial one. Finally, they align measures with the objective to help avoid missteps (Lipe & Salterio, 2000).
A balance scorecard is a framework that helps by using the same frameworks within it. it helps the team leaders describe the strategy and make sure that all the elements that comprise an organization are working perfectly together. When a scorecard is implemented effectively, the team leader will often see the better organization within a department, where they align with their goals.
The scorecard could be useful in the call centre. This is where the team leader could have posted the performance of different employees. The scorecard could show the amount of time each puts a customer on hold and how long they are on the call. This could help determine how efficient each employee is. it could also help make the employees competitive once their performance is exposed to everyone else.
In the healthcare department, the scorecards could help determine the ratio of the number of healthcare workers to the patients. This is important since it will help determine whether there is more or less staff. The scorecard can also help determine whether there are any redundancies at the departmental level. If there are, then some will have to be rescheduled or have some staffers dismissed (Lipe & Salterio, 2000).
George, M. L., & George, M. (2003). Lean Six Sigma for Service. N.Y.: McGraw Hill.
Henderson, K., & Evans, J. (2000). Successful Implementation of Lean Six Sigma: Benchmarking General Electric Company. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 260-282.
Lipe, M., & Salterio, S. (2000). The Balanced Scorecard: Judgmental Effects of common and Unique Balance Measures. The Accounting Review, 283-298.
Nilesh, V., & Swati, N. (2012). Understanding the benefits and limitations of Lean six sigma. International Journal of scientific research, 1-9.
Pepper, M., & Spedding, T. (2010). The Evolution of Lean Six Sigma. Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 138-155.