In this blog post
The pace with which new technologies are emerging is rising and so is the expectation to deliver superior products, and reduce costs and time-to-market. If we fail to deliver, we will end up losing our customers and impacting our businesses. Hence, constant improvement is a must. In these scenarios, the best concepts which we can implement are Lean, Six Sigma, and Kaizen.
Lean, Six Sigma and Kaizen concepts can be used at any stage to identify the process improvement opportunities; they can reduce manual efforts, costs, etc.
What happens if we don’t Improve our Process?
- No Process Improvements – we will be using the same concepts with more manual efforts.
- Unhappy Customers – as we are not exploring new techniques and our competitors might offer better solutions and get our customers.
- No Innovations – as a company we will not have any growth and later collapse.
What is Lean and how can we Implement it?
Lean is all about eliminating waste from the process. Waste here is ‘Non-Value Add’ Services. So, by eliminating unwanted steps/procedures from our process, we can eliminate waste, improve process efficiency, and reduce cost and human efforts.
One of the most efficient ways to identify waste is through ‘Value Stream Mapping’. To perform Value Stream Mapping, one must know their respective Process in depth.
Snippets of Value Stream Mapping
- Value Stream Mapping is a pictorial representation of the steps followed to complete an activity from start to end.
- It also shows the flow of the process and how many steps are involved to perform an activity.
- By using VSM we can identify how much manual effort is spent currently and how to remove the unnecessary steps from the existing process to better it.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is all about reducing the Variation. Variation here means ‘deviation from Customer’s requirement’. It is a Data-Driven Approach that uses statistical methods for eliminating defects. By reducing defect(s) we reduce variation too. For e.g. if customer’s requirement is Blue Pen and we have Produced a Black Pen, there is a “Variation”.
- Variation is identified by following data driven and statistical approach.
- Six Sigma is denoted by ‘6σ’.
- By using the statistical approach, we can tell at which Sigma Level we are operating or also known as ‘Defects per Million Opportunities/DPMO’.
- 6σ = 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
Six Sigma Belt Classifications: Belt Classifications are decided based on Dollar savings, FTE savings, Customer benefits.
Here in Six Sigma, we follow a Procedure named “DMAIC” Approach.
What is Kaizen?
Kaizen means ‘Change is Virtuous’. Kaizen is a Continuous Improvement Process, and It says there is always scope for Improvement.
Kai = Change & Zen = Virtuous.
Kaizen is a Continuous Improvement Process where we can try to implement small improvement opportunities irrespective of the FTE and dollar savings for the betterment of the process.
NOTE: If anyone says, a Project can be considered only if there is huge Dollar Savings or FTE savings for Process Improvement it’s completely wrong. Even if you are “Saving 1 hour Per week” with the ideas you have implemented, that is still considered as Improvement and eligible for a Kaizen Project.
In Kaizen too we follow DMAIC approach. However, we use simple concepts unlike Six Sigma using a statistical approach or complex calculations and tools.
Key areas where we can Improve Processes
- Routine/Redundant Tasks: Identify routine tasks which are been performed and eliminate the tasks via Automation/RPA.
- Monthly Trends: Working on the trends to identify the bugs/defects/monthly trends are increasing and come up with a permanent solution – RCA Analysis.
- Process Documentation: Effective usage of Process Documents/KB Articles and making sure all the Process Documents/KB Articles and updated ones.
- Reports: Identify the reports which are sent daily, weekly and check if they can be automated, which will save human efforts. Are all the reports required?
- Meetings: Are all the meetings required? How much time are we spending meetings? Weekly/Bi-weekly?
- SLA: Wherever the SLAs are Red, we can perform RCA and transform SLA from Red to Green.
Idea Contribution is a Crucial Activity
- Every Employee starting from L1 to CEO can contribute ideas for process improvements.
- Ideas Gathering: This is the base/foundation for Process Improvements. By brainstorming, all employees can contribute ideas on the existing issues or to better the processes. By using affinity, we can segregate the ideas and prioritize them.
By collectively using the Lean, Six Sigma, and Kaizen concepts in our day-to-day operations, we can grow individually, as a team, and as a company.
No Improvement, No Growth.