iSixSigma

Case Studies

DMADV Case Study: Performance Management System Redesign

To facilitate the development of its employees and better respond to the changing business environment, one department of a large financial-services company decided to revamp its existing performance management system through a Six Sigma project. A pre-project analysis revealed that a complete redesign of the system was required. As incremental improvement in the existing system…

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Team Teachings: Improving Process Operator Competency

Polymer chip manufacturing is a multi-step, large-volume process that makes hundreds of millions of pounds of products annually at a typical plant. Unlike fiber extrusion, which requires the use of multiple units of specialized equipment, chip manufacturing involves fewer machines operated in either continuous or batch modes. Chip manufacturing is often driven by operator decisions,…

Improving Lab Performance with Six Sigma

Laboratories can be a taxing environment in which to implement Lean and Six Sigma. Labs are not the same as manufacturing – where Lean and Six Sigma got their start – because they typically have more variability in workload, less operational focus, less process reliability and longer task cycle times. However, through creative adaptation of…

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Case Study: Implementing an Automated Time and Attendance System

Companies lose an average of 5 percent of revenue annually due to payroll process inefficiencies, errors and fraud. Leaders at Océ Business Services, a provider of outsourced document process management services, estimated that their company had an even greater opportunity because of their outsourcing model – employees based on client premises supporting thousands of individual…

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The Path of Least Resistance: Is There a Better Route?

Driven by nationwide technologist shortages, an industry-wide focus on quality and rising consumer demand, healthcare is feeling the pressure to deliver more with less. Given this challenging environment, some organizations have come to the conclusion that taking the path of least resistance may not be the best approach. For many, delivering quality patient care is…

Medical Transcription Six Sigma Case Study

Today’s industrial black belt typically trains for six months. Seventy-five percent of this training time is spent learning theory, and the balance is spent in practice. Often when the black belt returns to the real world to tackle inefficiencies, he finds that there are no takers for his logic and passion – his Six Sigma entreaties fall on…

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts: Six Sigma Breakthrough

Six Sigma, 6s, is nothing more, and nothing less, than the use of science to solve problems. Scientific evidence that a breakthrough medical solution is genuine is statistical evidence. Though altruism and evidence influence medical treatments, economic pressure drives improvement. Multi-million dollar savings created by “beating heart” or “off-pump” coronary artery bypass outcomes are a…

Software Vendor Partnership Cost Reduction with Six Sigma

Business Issue A multibillion-dollar software manufacturer needed to drive down the total $191 million annual cost of supplying its workers with continuously updated workstations. Both the software manufacturer and its primary vendor/supplier were in the midst of an aggressive cost cutting initiative that would lead to a new compensation model. The initial, first year targeted…

HMO Formulary Standardization Six Sigma Breakthrough

Business Issue All medications are not created equally. Reopro (generic name: abciximab), Integrilin (generic name: eptifibatide) and Aggrastat (generic name: tirofiban) are all platelet-inhibiting drugs used in cardiac care. Each is priced differently. They act on patients in slightly different but clinically significant ways. The key critical to quality issue in healthcare is patient safety….

Using Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Quality and Outcomes

Appropriately implemented, Six Sigma clearly produces benefits in terms of better operational efficiency, cost effectiveness and higher process quality. Perhaps less obvious – and until recently less documented – is the impact it can make in clinical areas such as infection control and medication delivery. Clinicians are often receptive to Six Sigma given its familiar scientific and…

Read-Rite Low FPY Manufacturing Case Study

Read-Rite Philippines is the manufacturing site for the Tape Head Business Unit, and the core competency is assembly and test. Read-Rite Philippines manufactures magnetoresistive tape heads to the entry level through mid-range tape drive markets, with products such as Travan, DLT (Digital Linear Tape), SLR (Scalable Linear Recording) and SDLT (Super DLT). The Elite Sigma…

Six Sigma Software Development Case Study

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study – Part 2

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six Sigma program for software development,…

Leveraging Six Sigma to Improve Hospital Bed Availability

Located in Lafayette, Louisiana, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center recently began working with GE Medical Systems to implement Six Sigma as a method for achieving quality and process improvement. Since patient throughput and bed availability are among the organization’s top concerns, the team began by focusing on this issue. Following a process of…

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The Importance of Statistical Thinking

Six Sigma is the buzzword of today. Companies big and small talk about it and numerous success stories further advertise its relevance in today’s challenging business environment. Debates on its emergence as a strategic initiative have created critics who consider it old wine in a new bottle and loyal followers willing to swear by it….

Case Study: Using DOE to Reduce Wasted Supplies in CTU

The quality of environmental hygiene in hospitals is under increasing scrutiny from both healthcare providers and consumers because the prevalence of serious infections due to multidrug-resistant pathogens has reached alarming levels. The transfer of gram-positive bacteria, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), among patients is a growing concern. One critical factor for…

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Six Sigma Case Study: Converting Paper to Electronic Documents

This work described below was carried out in a large company based in the U.S. and India. The project dealt with converting printed paper from U.S. customers into electronic copies. The material was quite heterogeneous in nature – consisting of assorted magazines and legal papers. It is part of an ongoing operation that services several…

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Starting the First Surgical Case on Time to Cut Delays

In 2006, the board, administration and staff at Louisiana’s Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) decided their operating room (OR) suites represented an opportunity for improvement. Rising demand, costs and competition were all signals that the hospital would need to either invest in expansion or operational efficiency. Taking the less glamorous and more difficult path of…

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Using Six Sigma to Reduce Pressure Ulcers at a Hospital

Since 2001, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Louisiana has applied Six Sigma and change management methods to a range of clinical and operational issues. One project that clearly aligned with the hospital’s strategic plan was an initiative to reduce nosocomial or hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, because this is one of the key performance metrics indicating…

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Hospital Improves Medication Reconciliation Process

Medication reconciliation – the process of comparing a patient’s medication orders with all of the medications he or she has been taking – can be difficult. Lack of patient knowledge regarding medication details, multiple care providers, multiple sources obtaining different medication lists for the same patient and new Joint Commission requirements all contribute to the difficulty. Hospitals…

Six Sigma’s Applicability to Business Forecasting

Six Sigma’s positive impact on manufacturing and product quality environments is well known and, without a doubt, has been proven by countless early and present practitioners. The method’s usefulness in improving transactional processes even in manufacturing businesses, however, is not always so well accepted. At Cabot Microelectronics Corporation, the business forecasting process was one that…

Cutting-Edge Methods Help Target Real Call Center Waste

Many processes and supporting functions operate in call centers…planning, staff scheduling, call routing, after-call processing and reporting. However, the single most important process in a call center – the one repeated thousands of times a day and the one most in need of improvement – is an agent handling an inbound or outbound call. Find Out More…

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Using Lean Six Sigma to Improve Call Center Operations

Employees knew that the service in their third-party call center had deteriorated in recent years. Their job was to handle queries from independent business owners about financial services offered by the call center’s client. As in many call centers, the job was considered highly stressful because of expected response times and resolution. Initially, no one…

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Case Study: Using Measurement to Drive Behavior Change

Inventory takes up a significant amount of cash flow at IBM and many other companies. Due to fast depreciation in technology products, machines that are inventoried are not worth as much as they age. To combat this loss in value, practitioners at an IBM warehouse conducted a Six Sigma project to reduce their hardware inventory….

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Rush to Enact Solutions Sabotages a DMAIC Project

In 2004, a small and relatively young technology company (7,500 employees and an annual revenue of $2 billion) implemented the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, or what is usually referred to as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). In an effort to be fully compliant the company identified and initiated more than…

Six Sigma Trims Turnover Time for Orthopedic Surgeries

Orthopedic and neurological spine surgery represents a competitive and profitable business for many healthcare organizations. Expanding this particular service line and ensuring efficiency in the operating room (OR) are among the strategic initiatives at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., one of 16 hospitals in the Memorial Hermann system. Surgeons at the hospital…

Improving Patient Charge Capture at Yale-New Haven

It is a common problem. Every year, hospitals lose millions of dollars when items used in the course of a patient’s care somehow slip through the system without ever being charged or reimbursed. At Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, a Six Sigma project team decided to look at the opportunities related to patient charge capture….

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Addressing the Issues at Doctors Hospital of Augusta

Like most healthcare providers, Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, USA, has struggled with familiar issues related to quality, resource constraints and ensuring optimal, accessible services for the community. Implementing Six Sigma has allowed the hospital to begin winning the battles with these issues. In 2004, the hospital’s leadership team decided to launch a new initiative…

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LSS Streamlines OR at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center

Process Improvement Drives Greater Efficiency and Higher Satisfaction Delays are common within the perioperative environment. Lengthy turnover times between surgical cases can impact surgeon satisfaction and timely access to services. At Louisiana’s Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC), surgeons expressed frustration with the length and variability of operating room (OR) turnover time (T0T). Maximizing efficiency in…

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Improving a Health System’s Cash Flow Management

The healthcare industry is going through mergers and acquisitions and facing new economic struggles. As hospitals realize the need to consolidate resources regionally, a big challenge takes shape: handling the information necessary to manage cash flow efficiently. Cash flow management is vital for hospital systems to sustain their daily operations. Our team used DMAIC to…

Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

In the 1990s, the teller counter was the primary customer-facing area in the financial service industry, and so improvement efforts were leveraged in this arena. With increased improvements in technology and online banking utilization, however, process improvement efforts have shifted to internal areas. Yet companies must realize that even though customers are becoming more self-reliant…

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Six Sigma Can Drive Environmental Management Programs

The current ISO 14001:2004 standard for environmental management systems has explicit requirements for defining and establishing objective targets and measures as part of an organization’s commitment to sound environmental management. Meeting these standards can be made easier when Six Sigma is applied in complement to an organization’s environmental management system. The presence of a robust…

DMAIC Helps Agency Craft Green Electronics Plan

The increased demand and limited supply of fossil fuels has signified the importance of energy efficiency and conservation across the world. Energy resourcefulness has come to the forefront in both federal and private organization’s policies and practices. Many organizational standards and procedures aim to minimize the use of energy, thereby protecting the environment. Various federal…

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Case Study Shows Six Sigma Role in Financial Services

An international bank with 50 branches in Germany and approximately 300 employees decided in 2003 to adopt Six Sigma in all its business units in Europe. It then set out to use Six Sigma to implement one of its priority business strategies – significantly grow its car loan business in the next two years. The bank’s…

Reducing Costs by Controlling Raw Material Consumption

All product manufacturers are being pushed to produce the best quality products without exceeding budget. Effective resource management can be instrumental in achieving this goal. A particular textile processing mill, which dyes and prints handloom fabric predominantly used in school uniforms, decided to follow the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach to reduce its…

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Quality Skills Can Make a Difference in the Community

As quality professionals, it is easy to become absorbed in day-to-day professional business roles: improving the quality of products or services, increasing productivity, enhancing profits, lowering costs, raising customer satisfaction and so on. Sometimes, however, it is important to pause and ask ourselves a fundamental question: How are we improving quality in our communities? For…

Sustaining Improvement by Building a Quality Mindset

A common problem encountered in Lean, Six Sigma and TQM implementation is performance deterioration after the completion and handover of a breakthrough improvement. This can happen despite installation of control mechanisms to monitor ongoing performance. In this case study, a financial services company with a national sales network had already begun addressing concerns about its…

Outpatient Imaging Reports TAT Cut from 64 to 9 Hours

Competition in the outpatient imaging center market is intense. New imaging centers are springing up everywhere. Faced with decreasing reimbursements, ever-changing technology and the expectation of spa-like atmospheres, how can an outpatient imaging center remain profitable? The answer lies with the customer. Having a pulse on the customer experience and continually eliciting and acting on…

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Slashing Product Development Time in Financial Services

In a data-rich environment like insurance, it is often easier to quantify opportunities associated with speed than it is in other industries. A global financial services company knew it took them 18 months to get new nationwide variable annuity products to the market. The company’s vast database and proven models allowed them to estimate that…

Six Sigma Has Successful Start in a Shanghai Hospital

The application of Six Sigma to healthcare has gained increasing visibility during the last several years, with a great deal of the attention focused on initiatives taking place within the United States. It’s important to note, however, that success has not been limited only to efforts of U.S. hospitals and medical centers. Last year in…

Reducing Delayed Starts in Specials Lab with Six Sigma

Special radiology procedures can be some of the most difficult to manage in healthcare. Their production relies on the chorus of a multidisciplinary team working within a limited time frame. Ancillary department performance can directly affect outcome performance for the unit. Defects such as missing orders, missing history and physicals or problems with patient flow…