Lean Six Sigma Methodologies
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Written by Tony Jacowski   

Lean Six Sigma methodologies are increasingly being preferred by all types of industries because in today's fast-changing world only those companies that employ the most cost-effective business processes can hope to remain competitive.

It helps because it allows companies to reduce operational costs by identifying and eliminating steps or procedures that add little or no value to a business process. Companies can easily improve quality and efficiency just by combining the basic concepts of Six Sigma with the principles of Lean.

Understanding Lean Six Sigma

In industry circles, Lean Six Sigma is termed in many different ways such as Lean Service, Lean Manufacturing, and Lean Enterprise depending on the type of methodology being utilized. These principles can be implemented along with other Six Sigma concepts in any type of company, be it a manufacturing company or a service provider. When these concepts and methodologies are implemented, it helps organizations to speed up their business processes without affecting the quality of the outcome.

As business processes are optimized, it becomes much easier for companies to reduce operational costs related to the maintenance of additional inventory of both raw materials and finished goods. Optimized business processes then enable companies to clear customer orders within the specified time and budget. Just as with standard 6 Sigma, it also stresses providing the requisite training to employees so that they become familiar with the tools and techniques that will be utilized during the implementations. Lean sigma also encourages key mentors and senior management personnel to understand the basics so that the implementations can be executed without affecting the day-to-day operations of the organization.

The Benefits

Lean Six Sigma involves the use of advanced tools and techniques that help companies to reduce operational costs, reduce production cycle times, expand existing capacity, and improve overall productivity. It makes use of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for identifying improvement opportunities that exist in a business process. However, VSM has limited use and other advanced analysis tools are required for resolving complicated implementation issues.

When combined with standard Six Sigma concepts, it helps in identifying and resolving quality issues that are vital for attracting and retaining customers. Offering quality products or services in turn helps in developing customer loyalty that is vital for the success of any business, large or small. However, for realizing the full potential of the implementations, it is important to execute projects under the guidance of Six Sigma Black Belts and Six Sigma Champions.

In the past, increased competition forced companies to deploy quality improvement techniques such as Six Sigma. With customers demanding more quality, companies had no other option but to deploy even more effective quality improvement techniques. Quality improvements are an ongoing process and we never know what new techniques will be developed in the future that may replace both 6 Sigma and Lean 6 Sigma.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions - Six Sigma Online (http://www.sixsigmaonline.org) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

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