Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Phases Of Lean Six Sigma

By Gary Reed

Many of the top companies in the world want to improve processes, eliminate waste and save money. A Lean Six Sigma project can be time consuming, but the outcome is certainly worth the effort and training that will be put into working to streamlining the way things are done.

The progression is through several phases; Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Involving a number of different people from throughout the organization can shed light on various views of the problem as well as the solution. Having input from others can really help in gathering data as well.

Defining the problem is the first step, which is Define. A problem statement is developed, that describes what the problem that will be solved is. Making a statement about the end goal will help as well. How the process is currently done should be mapped out in detail. Finally, taking the time to identify the benefits of solving the problem and who will benefit from it sets a final target but defining what those who will benefit require of the way things are done.

Next comes the measure phase. It can be time a labor intensive, so it is best to start with a plan for how to measure, or collect, the data. Ensure that the data means something and that it is relevant to the end goal. This may require an expansion of the project team to help collect it and input from subject matter experts within the organization. Chart the data as it is collected to help identify if there are deficiencies.

The data that has been collected is then analyzed in the Analyze phase. Current processes are carefully studied. Data that has already been collected must be placed into charts using a number of different tools. Discussions should take place within the team about the problem and what some of the underlying causes could be.

Improve is the next step. Again, the team can gather and come up with potential solutions to the problem. A process map for how the process can be improved may be designed and the best possible solutions filtered out. The solution or solutions should be implemented and additional data must then be collected once this is done to prove or disprove that the solution is working. It is important to make sure that the data collected is accurate and relevant.

Finally, in the control phase, it is important to come up with steps that will be out in place to ensure that the new processes are followed. The outcome should be shared with the rest of the organization as it may be useful in other process improvements. Celebrating the successes of the team involved is important.

North Carolina has a number of organizations that have seen success with the implementation of this process. It is wonderful to see the benefits that can come from spending the time on each step and reaping the rewards of the outcome.

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