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Six Sigma at Intuit

It’s nearing the end of tax season in the U.S. and chances are you’re probably using Intuit’s Turbo Tax software to figure out how much you owe, or better yet how much your return will be… Intuit is an innovative company that has revolutionized the way we do our taxes and keep our books. From pencil and paper to keystrokes and clicks, accounting has never been easier.

Intuit’s operating value No. 8, adopted August 1993 states: “The customer is the most important judge of the quality of a product or process. Therefore, we gauge the success of a product, service or internal process based upon how well it delights the customer.

Intuit didn’t need Six Sigma to teach them that delighting customers is important, but Six Sigma has played a partin helping them deliver delight to customers. Six Sigma came to Intuit when Steve Bennett took over as CEO in 2000. With all his years at GE, Bennett brought Six Sigma with him in his back pocket and quickly put the methodology to work cleaning up the payroll outsourcing business.

Today Intuit applies the methodology across the organization including software development and leadership development. The September/October 2005 issue of iSixSigma Magazine featured a corporate leadership profile of Intuit. The article entitled, “The Inside Track: Intuit’s Leadership Training Process,” details how organizational and process excellence (O&PE) play a role in shaping leaders at Intuit. The training includes the tenets of Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma. Regarding Six Sigma at Intuit, Michael Lipps, a leader in training at Intuit, said, “We have morphed our Six Sigma into more of an operation and process excellence role. It’s much more about organizational excellence and leadership than methodology.

As Intuit improves processes and reduces cycle times hopefully some of that improvement wears off on their customers…April 15th is closing in, and if you don’t have your taxes done yet, Turbo Tax is sure to be the criticalx in reducing the cycle time of your personal tax filing process.

Annual Reports/Press Releases

“We hired a new vice president dedicated to process excellence and are implementing Six Sigma quality pilot programs in selected parts of the company.”

2000 Annual Report

“…We’ve implemented Six Sigma process excellence programs to deliver better service to our customers at lower costs; and we’ve dramatically improved our procurement processes.

“The best news is that we haven’t yet seen the full operational and financial benefits of these new initiatives. Intuit made great progress at improving pro forma operating margins in fiscal 2001—up 3.3 points to 17.4 percent. But I think there’s significant room for improvement, especially when you compare our margins with those of the companies we benchmark ourselves against—software and service companies with leading market positions.”

2001 Annual Report

“We have completed a number of Six Sigma/Process Excellence projects in our customer service and technical support operations to improve our call capacity forecasting, develop more flexible approaches to staffing and reduce support call volumes and handling times.”

2002 Annual Report

“Under the leadership of Bennett and Hensler’s predecessor, Dennis Adsit, Intuit has completed 17 process excellence projects that have resulted in annualized bottom line benefits of more than $10 million. An additional 80 projects are in process, with estimated annual benefits of more than $20 million.”

Press Release: Intuit Names Bill Hensler As Vice President Of Process Excellence, June 12, 2002

Articles and Links

Better, Cheaper, Faster: Pick All Three, Call Center Magazine, August 5, 2003

Six Sigma: The Myth, The Mystery, The Magic, Call Center Magazine, February 4, 2005

The Hottest CEO in Tech, Business 2.0, June 1, 2003

Why Techies Don’t Get Six Sigma, Business 2.0, June 1, 2003

The Only Question That Matters, Business 2.0, September 1, 2005

New Horizons for Intuit Customer focus, Information Week, November 22, 2004

QuickBase Solutions, quickbase.com

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Comments

kirsten skeehan 20-04-2006, 12:47

Pleased to see the changes at Intuit. Training and indoctrination seems to be a big part of the success. I see many companies taking big shortcuts with training. I hear “these are smart, senior folks. please cut the critical training from 3 days to 1″ and other such extreme cuts. What are other companies finding as far as trimming training?

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Heebeegeebee BB 06-07-2006, 06:08

um, you do realize that Dennis Adsit left after a falling out with Bennet concerning the Latter’s wish to water down the content, training, scope and curriculum…right?

I know all the players involved and can tell you it is a disaster for Intuit.

Dennis is a straight shooter and a real believer in rigorous approach/application of Six Sigma.

Bill Hensler has the tools and the intellect to do the right thing. The question is, will he?

Once again, a blogged “success story” fails to account for the WHOLE story.

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