Friday, 30 November 2018

12 Best Lean and Six Sigma Tools to Improve Businesses

      Lean and Six Sigma are used by many organizations within a variety of industries which combine mindset and methods adopted from each approach. Tools and methodologies make up a management system to scientifically solve the business problems. These tools can be used to great effect by all kinds of organizations. Lean tools can be a methodology, mindset or practice that helps to apply lean principles to your work. There are many tools that help team practice the lean business effectively and each has its own value.

Value Stream Mapping - It is designed to ensure that each part of the business process offers tangible value to the customer. Value can be defined as the something the customer willing to pay for. When carrying out the value stream mapping, the current processes are examined and documented. Any step, task or expenditure on resources that do not produce value will be eliminated or improved.

Standard Work - If predictable and consistent results are to be achieved by business, it is important that every process is carried out in the same way irrespective of the tasks associated with the process. It can be achieved by developing. documenting and enforcing standard work. Standard work is the representation of the organizations current best practices for performance of different parts of its process. This tool creates a standard expectation day after day to make sure everything is taken care of and within a certain time period.

Mistake Proofing(Poka-Yoke) -  Poka-Yoke is the concept of error proofing to prevent some calamity. It is an improvement in the form of a jig or fixture that helps to achieve 100% acceptable product by preventing the occurrence of defects like gas nozzle built to prevent you putting the wrong gas in your tank. It has a number of examples in the real world,
   1. In buildings, the elevator doors won't close if someone is in between the doors, won't open when the elevator is moving or the elevator won't move if the weight of the individuals within the elevator exceeds the safe limit.
  2. In manufacturing plants, where device prevents employees from reaching into machines and harming themselves or stop the workers from selecting the wrong part or attaching the part in the wrong location or manner.

5S Visual Management - 5S is one of the first tools to be applied in a company for the continuous improvement culture. 5S implementation helps to define the first rules to eliminate waste, efficient, safe and clean work environment. It is actually an innovative management system that helps people think lean, paving the way for adoption of lean principles in the organization. 5S tools are really useful and effective in the following situations,
* People in your workplace struggle to locate documents or files whether a digital or physical document
 * Are there loose electrical cables in the workplace?
 * Are there files, drawers, and cabinets that are unlabeled or they contain unmarked content that is hard to identify?
 * Is the valuable spaces taken by useless items?
 * Are there papers in the workplace that are not used and gathering dust?
 * Does everybody know how to keep the workplace organized and are fully aware of their roles and responsibility?

5S refers to the set of five terms represent the five steps toward operational and process excellence. Those are,
Sort: Separate required tools, materials, and instructions from those that are not needed. Remove everything that is not necessary from the work area.
Store: Sort and organize all tools and equipment, files, data, resources for easy location and use Label all storage locations, tools, and equipment.
Shine:. Set new standards for cleanliness. Clean and remove all trash, grease, and dirt. Cleanliness provides a safe workplace and makes a potential problem noticeable.
Standardize: Engage the workforce to systematically perform steps 1,2 and 3 above daily. Establish a schedule and set expectations for adherence.
Sustain: Make 5S as part of your culture and incorporate into the corporate philosophy. Build organizational commitment so that 5S becomes one of your organizational values.

Continuous Improvement - It is a method of continuously identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste. It can be implemented as a formal practice or an informal set of guidelines. It has four general steps,
* Identify: Analyzes where your process needs improvement
* Plan: Determine how those areas in your process can be improved
* Execute: Implement your process improvement Plan
* Review:  After a set of time, evaluate how the changes are working for your team
Continuous Improvement relies on open, clear communication and a data-driven mindset across the organization. It requires team members to open about success and failures so that they pinpoint where their processes and products need to improve and deliver value to the customer faster.

Six Thinking Hats - It is an exercise in parallel thinking and it is a way of approaching the problem from different points of view at the same time. Even everyone came from the same process area and shared the same point of view, the conversation can be disjointed. One person explains the facts, another person is thinking about the benefits and 3rd person thinking about negative aspects. The six thinking method tries to solve this by making the whole group think of the same part of the problem at the same time using colored hats as a physical, visual cue. Each hat represents the distinct direction of challenging problem like,
   * White Hat - Information - During the white hat discussion, Only the facts are represented
   * Red Hat - Emotions -  In the Red Hat, everyone shares the gut feelings without any justification for them
   * Black Hat - Discernment - Cautious thinking, what could go wrong?
   * Yellow Hat - Optimism - Discuss the benefits
   * Green Hat - Creativity - It is to represent the oddball ideas, with little criticism
    * Blue Hat - Direction - The chairperson wears the blue hat and can direct the discussion into a different mode.
The Six Thinking Hat is a formalized approach to problem-solving. By forcing everyone to focus on one aspect at a time, the group is not moving the different directions or ignoring specific issues.

Heijunka Production Leveling - It is a technique for reducing the Mura(unevenness) which in turn reduces Muda(waste). It is vital to the development of production efficiency in lean manufacturing. The goal is to produce intermediate goods at a constant rate so that further processing can be carried out at a constant and predictable rate. When customer demand fluctuates two approaches have been adopted, 1. Demand Leveling and 2. Production Leveling through flexible production. It is important to minimize fluctuation in the final assembly line.

Theory of Constraints(TOC) - It is a method of increasing throughput by managing constraints or bottlenecks. It explains the impact of profitability from decision making by a supply chain in terms of time. This concept serves as the base of supply chain management and a model that explains the relationship of variables in business as to how cash flow based profitability is affected by decision making.

Little's Law -  It shows that how to do more, doing less by picking the priority project to work on first before moving onto the one of next importance. It helps you to reach your deadline comfortably and efficiently. It can be defined as,   
            Average Lead Time =    Work In Progress / Average Throughput
This lean approach is useful in the marketing department to priority project, while the lower priority has more time to develop and for any requirements to be finalized before to get started.

Single Minute Exchange of Die(SMED) Quick Changeover - The popular approach to battle the waste is to streamline changeovers. Changing machines from one setup to another is often time-consuming exercise. Hence the lean manufacturing reducing the changeover times is a well-known method for improving the efficiency.
    For any improvement project, the first question to ask yourself is " Is this the biggest problem right now?" when you have decided to which problem to address, then you should look for the solutions. After finding the problems, prioritizing them, and looks for possible solutions then you should do the SMED workshop. There are six fundamental steps to SMED,
1. Measure the Changeover Time - Depending on the duration and changeovers, you may able to watch different number.
2. Identify the Internal and External Elements - Check the changeover steps have to be done while the machine is stopped and what can be done while the machine is still running.
3. Move as many Elements as possible to External - It means converting internal steps to external and ensuring the external steps to be done before or after the process interruption.
4. Shorten Internal Elements - After moving the external steps, then shorten the internal steps. Also, check the procedure can be simplified and better tools are available.
5. Shorten External Elements - Check if we can shorten the external elements. This will not reduce the stoppage of the process, but it will reduce the overall time of the changeover.
6. Standardize and Maintain New Procedures - The last step is to do the changeover quickly every time. So, you need to define the new standard, document it and train the workers and do the process confirmation.

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) - It is a risk management tool that identifies and quantifies the influence of potential failures in a process. It analyses the potential failure in 3 criteria,
 1. Occurrence(Failure cause & frequency)
 2. Severity (Impact of the failure)
 3. Detection (likelihood of failure detection)
Once assessed and prioritized the failures that can be addressed with mistake proofing for preventable failures and contingency plan for unpreventable risks.

DMAIC -  It is an abbreviation of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. People consider the DMAIC to be the most important tool in six sigma methodology. It is an Improvement cycle that helps the organization to improve, optimize and stabilizes their processes that roadmap the resolution of business problems.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

What are the Basics of Lean Six Sigma?


    Lean Six Sigma is the powerful combination of Lean and Six Sigma process improvements. Lean is popular to streamline both manufacturing and service processes by eliminating waste and continue to deliver value to the customer. Six Sigma is a method that efficiently solving the problem and reduces the number of defective products manufactured or services, resulting to increase revenue and customer satisfaction.
     Lean six sigma works well for small, medium and large businesses. The success that can be achieved in large businesses can achieve in small and medium businesses. It has the number of benefits like frees up resources that can be utilized toward any endeavor your organization wishes to pursue and for,
   * A new product or service
   * Improvement in Projects
   * Expanding the Salesforce etc.,
It not only increase revenue and reduces costs, but, it positively affects the people by engaging them and improving the way they work. The employees are closest to the work in a production of product or delivery of service in any organization become the best resources to understand to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business process. By participating in successful lean six sigma projects, employees can able to build confidence and develop the capability to become business's most important assets.

 Lean Six Sigma Roles: 

1. Champion -  Executive leader drives the initiative that helps to select the projects and remove the barriers for project teams.  He also supports change and develops lean six sigma culture.
2. Master Black Belt - This person works with leaders to identify gaps and select projects. He coaches, mentor, monitors and leads the projects. Responsible for lean six sigma implementation and culture change.
3. Black Belt - He can report to a master black belt and has advanced lean six sigma expertise. Also, he functions as a coach, mentor, teacher, and project leader for project teams.
4. Green Belt - This person starts and manages lean six sigma projects. He has lean six sigma expertise but in less detail than black belts and provides just in time training to others.
5. Yellow Belt - He understands the basic lean six sigma concepts and reports process issues to Green Belts and Black belts. Participates on project teams receives just in time training.
6. White Belt - He understands the structure and goals of lean six sigma and uses basic lean six sigma vocabulary terms. He reports process issues to green and black belts.

There are 5 Phases of Lean Six Sigma - DMAIC( Define, Measure, Analyzes and Improve and Control) is the problem-solving methodology behind Lean Six Sigma.

Select Right Projects: Before beginning any process improvement, it is vital to choose projects that are good candidates for improvement. It will help you for the project success. A good project for improvement,
    * Has an obvious problem within an existing process
    * Has the potential to reduce lead time or defects while resulting in cost savings or improved productivity
    * Is measurable and results in a quantifiable improvements

Once projects are selected, you and your team can use DMAIC to further refine the projects and deliver quantifiable and sustainable results.

Define Phase - How to define the Problem?: What problem you would like to fix? In this phase, the project team creates the project charter, a high-level map of the process and begins to understand the needs of the customers of the process. This is a critical phase in which the team outlines the project focus for themselves and the leadership of the organization. The main tasks in the define phase are,
* Define the Goal by Developing the Goal Statement - The goal statement should be a reflection of a problem statement.
* Define the Process by Developing the Process Maps - The team begins with bird's eye view of the process, also known as a high-level process map. One high-level map is called SIPOC which stands for Supplier, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. Another high-level map more closely aligned with cycle time reduction projects is a Value Stream Map.
* Define the Customer and their Requirements - The customer is defined as the individuals or groups who receive the goods or services of the process. Customers can be external or internal to the organization. In the define phase, the team understands the customers and requirements. After interviewing or surveying the customer, the team translates into measurable requirements that provide with insight on how to improve the process or solve the problem.

Measure Phase - How to Measure the Current Process? : How does the process currently performs? It means what is the magnitude of the problem? As the team starts collecting data they focus on both the process as well as measuring what customers care about. There are two focuses: reducing lead time or improving the quality. In the Measure phase, the team determines the current performance or the baseline of the process. The baseline becomes the standard against which the team measures their improvement. This is the key step as the data collected during the Measure phase against the data collected in the improve phase to confirm the improvement. The tasks in the Measure phase are,
Create a Plan to Collect the Data: It must consider where to get the data, how much to collect, who will get it and how. A well thought out data collection plan is critical since the accurate and reliable data are the key to good decision making.
Ensure the data is Reliable: Defining and refining the process measurements leads to collecting the sound information and enables the team to make good project decisions. It ensures future corrective action based on facts and data rather than assumptions and opinions. The team creates check sheets for the manual data and continue until they have a reliable measure of the project baseline.
Update the Project Charter:  Once the team conducted the initial data collection they will have more details around process performance and potential goals. The team updates the project charter that describes the problem and goal with the collected data.

Analyze Phase - How to identify the cause of the problem?: It is about discussing what is causing this problem? When the team jumps to the solutions before knowing the root causes of the issues, there are waste of time, consume resources, create more variations and cause new problems. It is to develop a hypothesis as to why a problem exists and then work to prove or disprove their hypothesis. The verification of process analysis and data analysis has to be completed before implementing the solutions.
Examine the Process: After the process walk, by creating high level and detailed process maps and collecting process performance data, the team is able to analyze the process and list their concerns or pain points. The team can proceed with further process analysis by conducting any of the following,
  * Time Analysis: It focuses on actual time to work being done in the process versus the time spent on waiting. It is to discover that people are busy and things are idle.
  * Value Added Analysis: It is another dimension of discovery by looking at the process through the eyes of a customer to uncover the cost of doing business.
  * Value Stream Mapping: It combines the process data with a map of value adding steps to determine where waste can be removed.
Graphical Display of Data: The team displays data using charts and graphs( e.g Run charts, Histogram, Pareto charts, Box Plots) and providing visual indications of process problems. Selecting the right charts and graphs provides a team with valuable insights into the causes of process issues.
Look and Verify the Causes of Process: In an effort to the process analysis and data analysis helps to uncover the root causes of wastes or defects in the process. The tool knowns as cause&effect or fishbone diagram gather the wisdom of process participants. The tool 5whys guides team members for past symptoms to root causes. Before the move to improve phase, the team confirms the proposed root causes are true by using data analysis, process analysis, process observation, and comparative analysis.

Improve Phase - How to Implement and verify the solution?:  Once the project team has determined the root causes it's time to develop the solutions. This is where the team brainstorms the solutions, pilot process changes, implement solutions and collects data to confirm a measurable improvement. A structured improvement effort can lead to innovative and elegant solutions that improve the customer experience. It has the following tasks,
Find and Select the Solutions that Fix the Problem: It is to produce as many ideas as possible to address the root cause of the problem listed in the project charter. These ideas can come from process participants, colleagues, benchmarking, or from the classic solutions developed in the quality world. The project team can use Weighted Criteria Matrix to make the best decision and Impact Effort Matrix to provide the best impact for the least cost or effort.
Develop Maps of Processes Based on Different Solutions: In order to achieve the solution to reduce the issues like rework loops, waste, wait times, the team creates a new improved map of the process known as To-Be-Map. These new maps guide the team efforts towards the new processes and provide the reference tool for the employees to learn the new processes.
Implement the Solutions: Accomplishing the Successful implementation requires careful planning. It also to consider the logistics, documentation, communication plans and training. The more time spends on planning, the faster they achieve total adaptation to their improvements by their process participants. It is good practice to create an implementation plan for the large-scale implementation.
Measure to Ensure Improvement: Once the team implemented the solution they collect the data whether or not the process changes have improved the baseline. It can take from 1 to 4 weeks depends on the length of the process cycle.

Control Phase - How to maintain the Solution?: How do you sustain the improvement? The process problems are fixed and improvements are in place, the team must ensure that the process maintains the gains. It is to focus on creating and monitoring the plan to continue measuring the success of the updated process and developing the response plan if there is a dip in performance.
Ensure the Process is Properly Managed and Monitored - The monitoring plan accompanied by the Response Plan indicating the levels at which the process operates and things to do in case the process performance starts to decline. This leads to continuous process refinement.
Continuously Improve the Process Using Lean Principles: The four principles of Value, Flow, Pull, and Perfection should remain a constant focus for every organization. It can be defined as,
 Value: Determine what steps are required to the customer?
  Flow: Remove waste in the system to optimizing the process to achieve a smoother pace
  Pull: Ensure the process responds to customer demand
  Perfection: Continuously pursue perfection within the process.
These DMAIC Templates will help you to achieve the project goals as easily as possible.