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.

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