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Using Performance Boards Successfully in Services

Faced with stiffening competition, increasingly demanding customers, high labor costs, and, in some markets, slowing growth, service businesses around the world are trying to boost their productivity. Although manufacturing businesses can raise productivity levels by monitoring and reducing waste and variance in their relatively homogeneous production and distribution processes, service businesses find that improving performance…

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A Lean Approach to Improving Service Call Center Performance

With increasing competition, expanding globalization and demanding customers, the playing field in the service Lean call center (SCC) industry has changed rapidly, as phone banks have evolved into multichannel contact centers. Many organizations have realized that the key for survival is efficiency and effectiveness, with a focus on productivity and customer experience. Lean techniques, which focus…

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Managing Performance Factors: A Sample Checklist

In the May/June issue of iSixSigma Magazine, the article, “Taking the Next Step: How to Eliminate Errors for Good,” offers an approach for managing human performance factors in an effort improve processes in service organizations. An excerpt of a checklist used to measure human performance factors and gauge risk is featured in the magazine article….

Combining Six Sigma and CMMI Can Accelerate Improvements

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a framework for business process improvement. Like any model, CMMI reflects one version of reality, and like most models, it may be more idealistic than realistic in some ways. Organizations can use the model as a jumping off point to create process improvement solutions that fit their unique development…

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Six Sigma’s Battle Over Marketing

There is a battle being waged on the fringe of the Six Sigma community. The battle is over how to apply Six Sigma to one of the last frontiers of business – marketing. There are two sides to the argument: those who favor a direct application, and those who feel the method should be modified….

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Fixing Between-agent Variation Can Make All the Difference

Here is the good news: To help their call centers improve, managers need to solve just one problem – between-agent variation. That’s right. Fixing that problem can take a call center to a new standard of excellence. Of course there are other operational challenges that need to be solved, but between-agent variation is such a…

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Service is the Key to Success

Why do people buy shoes from Nordstrom, when they can get a similar pair of similar quality for less money at other major department or clothing stores? Most stores carry a similarly large selection of shoes – large enough for most people to browse and make a selection. All stores have sales people, mirrors to…

ITIL and Six Sigma Make a Winning Combination for IT

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Six Sigma have both been successfully employed to improve the quality of information technology (IT) services. Often the two approaches, although distinctly different but with a common focus on customer satisfaction at their core, are used independently of each other. Fortunately many organizations are coming to realize the…

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Cause-and-effect Diagrams and Lean for Service Processes

Lean improvement of service processes is somewhat different from Lean improvement of manufacturing processes. Efficiency is usually a measure of speed and cost and Lean improvement in efficiency is achieved by eliminating waste in time or resources. Effectiveness is usually a measure of quality and the overall objectives of the enterprise in that regard. If…

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Q&A with Cmdr. Stanley Dobbs

In an interview with iSixSigma, Cmdr. Stanley Dobbs shares his approach toward Lean Six Sigma project selection and execution, as well as insight into the Navy’s positive response to continuous process improvement.

How Six Sigma Can Help ITIL Service Level Management

Many information technology (IT) organizations are utilizing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) as a guiding framework for operational excellence. One of the many “best practices” within ITIL is utilization of service level agreements, (SLAs) and operational level agreements (OLAs). When implemented well, these agreements and associated management processes go far in establishing fruitful working…

Problem Management: Coordinating ITIL and Six Sigma

Information technology (IT) expenses are growing at a significantly faster rate than any other portion of most businesses, and IT has become a significant component in the cost of doing business. Increasingly, IT organizations are required to determine the cost of delivering and supporting particular services, as well as qualifying and quantifying the value that…

Lean Six Sigma Meets Darwin and Market Segmentation

Lean Six Sigma – like most things that continue to flourish – evolves. It grows, expands and adapts to fill new niches. Marketing professionals have identified evolutionary patterns common to many different products, services and markets – including Lean Six Sigma. Understanding these patterns is significant when considering purchase of Lean Six Sigma services and…

Services Can Improve By Taking Lead from Manufacturing

Many have thought the traditional definition of quality – meeting the desired specifications of the product’s fitness for use – does not apply in the same sense in the service sector as in manufacturing. But a closer look reveals that today’s services, with a little help from technology, are similar to products in the manufacturing industry….

Lean Services: Doing Transactions Right the First Time

In a service organization, the most efficient method for cutting waste is to attack anything and everything that is not done right the first time. This concept, known as first time right, involves making sure that all activities are carried out in the right manner the first time and every time. Examples include a customer…

Using a DMAIC-Style Approach to Win Service Contracts

In today’s competitive environment, companies are looking for service providers that offer a lower cost and a trusted partnership. This is a need that can turn the request-for-quotes (RFQ) process into more than a bidding war. It is especially true when companies are looking to outsource major activities and are concerned about losing control. For…

Improving the Value of the IT Service Delivery Process

While most information technology (IT) organizations are constantly struggling to demonstrate cost savings, too few are focusing on ways to add value to the business. Alignment with the business is where the emphasis should be for IT departments. CIOs today are actively involved in divesting business processes, and partnering with new offshore providers in countries…

Why a Quality Management System in Service Industries?

In every organization, both management and the general workforce tend to resist change, whether it be in systems, culture or environment. That is natural – people are usually happy to continue with what they have always done. The change brought about by the introduction of a quality management system (QMS) – particularly in service industries – is no…

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Measuring and Improving Service Processes with Six Sigma

Service processes play integral roles in almost every company – loan processing in the case of banks, mechanical services in an automobile dealership, recruitment or new employee orientation in a human resources department, accounts payable in an accounting department. Service processes can consume a large portion of a company’s operating margin. So it is not…

Using Triage to Manage Process Workloads in Services

It is something we have all experienced: Walking into a bank and finding we are the sixth person in line. Having a computer go down and discovering that it will take hours or days before someone can come to fix it. Getting an urgent request and having to set aside the 10 other things we…

Reducing Delays in Service Processes with Rapid Setup

A P&L manager who is preparing a monthly report starts gathering the information he needs. He realizes that this month’s sales figures are not broken out by region, so he calls accounting and asks for the regional split as quickly as possible. He also discovers that he has updates on only three of the four…

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Six Sigma Applies to IT, as Evidenced by Success

Does Six Sigma apply to IT? This question is heard quite often. It echoes questions that have been asked many times since the first attempts to apply Six Sigma beyond manufacturing. Does Six Sigma apply to finance? Healthcare? Banking? Software? Insurance? In each of those areas the answer turned out to be “yes,” as widely…

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