Apply Sigma Six to a not for profit agency

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    Lourdes T. Iglesias

    I have been the executive director of a not for profit agency for the past two in a half years. When I arrived our debt was about 330,000.00 and today we are at 125,000.00. How do I apply sigma six to this not for profit agency to make sure it is ran efficienctly for the present and past when I am gone?



    Lourdes, SS improves processes; anything where a series of events must occur to achieve a desired result. SS reduces variation, identifies and removes non-value added steps, reduces costs while improving output. So, to the extent you have processes being conducted in your organization, you can benefit from the application of SS and Lean.
    I suggest you look at the Process Mngt course offered in eBooks on this site. It should be as complex as you will need in transactional processes.



    Hi Lourdes,
    I have been dealing with this myself for a while and have concluded that applying lean/ss tools in a nonprofit environment has to be done in such a way that suits the culture and collective skill set of the staff.  There are likely to be fewer technical/analytical types at a nonprofit (as opposed to say a manufacturing organization), so the approach we are taking is to do smaller scale projects that are not too technical to generate some PR and visibility.  Some of the tools we’ve had good results with are FMEA, 5S, and basic spc charts.  Michael George’s book Lean Six Sigma for Service was helpful, especially the case study info about Stanford Hospital and Clinics.   If you want more specifics I can give you contact info off-line and would be happy to share what we’ve learned. 



    I would also be interested in any other advise you would have in this matter. 



    Lourdes, SS in non-profit really isn’t that different in for-profit. Your agency wants to (has to?) serve its constituents (customers) better and better, and probably has to do so with limited resources. You have processes which create value and waste, and have costs associated with them. As your agency can deliver higher quality results with more consistency, it makes fundraising more effective (yet another process that can be improved with LSS) and so on.The biggest challenge will probably be in helping the staff think about what they do in business and process terms. That’s where they need your leadership and guidance. You may also be able to hook up with local lean six sigma consultants who do pro bono work for charities, to bring some expertise from outside the agency.Good luck!



    Lourdes:  You’re getting some good advice from posters.  The comment from ezawot does help point out the difference in environments between for- and not-for profits.  I have found that it is important to engage the Board of non-profits and incorporate the cultural and behavior change in the organization’s strategic plan.  Often, changing board chairs can change some of the organization’s direction, and it’s important that there is broad agreement and support so that you can proceed with your SS installation and know you have onging support.  This may not be an issue if you have a high performing board who understands this is your domain, not theirs.  Good luck.  Eric



    While there are many great ideas being presneted I would also add you may want to prioritize the high cost to low cost expenses that you can target for optimization by utilizing six sigma or portfolio management practices to revamp and revitalize.
    In addition I would apply the same prioritization on any revenue generating services to be targeted for further improvement.
    That may get you started and look for low hanging fruit opportunities that can easliy improve your cost reduction efforts until you formalize a more mature program.
    Best regards,



    Hi, Here’s my view. It primarily depends on your organizational objectives. It could be either reducing the debts by growing the topline and bottom line or by cutting down the costs to achieve the results you are aiming for.
    To arrive at this, you may wish to involve the key stakeholders and carry out a KJ analysis to arrive a problem that would solve the problem the best & narrow down on the pain areas.
    Define the problem with DMAIC methodology to identify the CTQs. My opinion is to decide whether you would like to follow one of the four following paths..
    1. Improve the process
    2. Re- design the process
    3. Design a new process
    4 Make an improvement plan as an one time event to fix a big problem.
    This will help you take the problem in a very systematic way and will continue to produce the results with a robust control plan.
    Hope this helps. Rdgs/ Neeraj

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