Process driven improvements

When you are just started to work on a new project, as Six Sigma professional you are conditioned not to jump to conclusions and let the data and facts guide you to process improvements. However, by asking yourself two simple questions at the start of such an improvement initiative, you be able to get a first idea of where to start looking for improvement ideas.

1. Is the process customer facing or not ?
A customer facing process delivers its outputs to external customers (or front office if you like) Examples : call centres operations, sales and after sales service ….
Non-customer facing processes deliver their output to internal customers. These are typically back-office operations like planning, dispatching, purchasing, etc …

2. Is the process a repetitive or not ? Repetitive processes return in a time set manner. The repetition can continuous or can be separated in time. Examples of repetitive processes : the financial reporting that has to run every month (separated in time), many manufacturing-like processes repeat continuously.

In a non-customer facing process with repetitive work you need factory-like processes. Improvements will be focussing on flow creation, reducing waste and overburden, improving ergonomics, automation and standardization of work.

Non repetitive and non customer facing processes need the job shop approach and require highly skilled employees, specialist in their area, supported by the required systems and organisational structures.

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A non-repetitive and customer facing process requires professional service type of processes. Improvements will focus on skill development building, first time resolution improvement, building customer relationships, etc …

Repetitive and customer facing : mass service process. Think about services like postal offices, hospital admissions, fast food restaurant services, etc … Standardization of work and customer friendliness in all its aspects are main areas for improvements.

Comments 3

  1. Matthew

    Our company has some what of a standard in that each six sigma project should contain a charter, process map,C and E,FMEA MSA and some sort of a summary. Now, these are identified as key tools to perform that "mining for the X’s". Important things to remember are that a project needs to be scoped correctly. So many times projects are defined too broadly and they fail. Another is that some sort of statistical tool needs to be used to help support the belts/teams decisions.

    Yes in some ways absolute standards could tie a belts hands by possibly doing work that is not needed. Just because we know how to use all these different tools doesn’t mean we need to use all of them, all the time. What tools make sense? But what type of project is the team working on? Is it more of a Lean project?Or a Six Sigma Project? These would determine what tools to use.

    Hope this sheds a little light on your topic.


  2. Phil Roberts

    Bob Carter of Raytheon is holding a Webinar (desk top seminar) on 3rd May at 15.00 BST covering the human aspects of Six Sigma; it is well worth a look. See at the Pure Insight site.

  3. processautomation


    Nice post, I think process automation is the heart of modern day improvement in science and technology.

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