Deploying Six Sigma in a Bank

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    As a quality professional with experience of working for a big bank, I have been invited by another bank to help them launch their six sigma initiative. Though I have helped companies implement TQM, BPR, ISO9001, etc. quality initiatives, I have not been directly involved in six sigma thing till recently. And that too has been limited to conducting introductory programs of 1-2 day duration. tha bank is all gung-ho about six sigma, but the way have implemented ISO9001 ( handing over the task to a big consulting firm as they say their own people don’t have the time to do the technical stuff of ISO) I am wondering if I the effort will succeed there. But as they are eager to get my help, I feel tht this is the time for me to laydown the conditions on which I will accept their assignment. So can youlearned and experienced people advise me on what I must insist on the bank do before going about launching six sigma.
    Thanks a lot for your guidance


    Praveen Kumar Kambhampati

    Hi XLCR,
    For a bank which cannot spare their employees time for improvement and reaching the performance milestones themselves, i am sceptical about making any true progress in the SixSigma front. It is one thing to make a public announcement on SixSigma implementation. For a true development in the process-Quality front, the organization has to first of all decide on the resources who would help the organisation internally to identify the major areas of concern.The support from any external source like your own self for such gap analysis would be an eye wash. This is not to undermine your capabilities as a consultant but all said and done you are external; to the organization which wants to improve.
    Being a physician (Consutlant) unless your patient is interested in in improving his health, any exercise you do would improve your wealth, but not his health. You have to choose your goal first before your client.
    Firstly the internal team for the bank which will lead the Sixsigma effort from inside has to be inplace
    Secondly  The Bank is already certified for ISO9000.As a beginning you better check the attitude of Management on ISO 9000.If they feel complecent there is not much you can do. Internal implementation checks and a proactive approach to reap the benefits of ISO9000 is required. There is a lot more in the ISO 9000 standard.than what organizations do for certification.Keep strengthening the system implemented by filling up the gaps in their process flows.
    Thirdly do not talk about Six Sigma at all until there is correct mindset amongst the employees for improvement.Just keep doing your job awaiting a glorious turn around in people, there is a turning point for each of such projects. 
    When internally supported there is much benefits that you can get for the bank. Otherwise, the expectations and the deliverables may not meet.
    The bills may even get passed but the baseline woud’nt shift.
    Seems to be a big project .All the best for your endeavour.
    Praveen Kumar K
    Principal Consultant
    KAM BusinessSolutions
    Hyderabad. India



     am working at a bank, and have been involved in the six sigma initiative since the very beginning. The bank is owned by GE, thus the programm has always had a very strong backing and pushing from the corporate team. At the beginning the dounbt was there and we quality professional had hard times to convince bankers. But the results speak for themselves. In the 2nd year of 6sigma implementation the quality net income was over a million USD (we are a small Hungarian bank). Cost reduction, in interes paid out and cycle time reduction.The methodology was the same as all over GE Capital, start with 6 sigma awareness at all levels followed by MBB, BB training and GB training, and low hanging fruit type projects selected. The 2nd breakthrough was the implementation of Business Process Management in the 3rd-4th year in operations and IT. And the last milestone I am aware of was the peneteration into the sales force. Now the bank is considered as a high quality service institution. One of a critical succes factor was the very strong demand from GE senior leaders on accelerated progress in sigma.



    Assuming you have the right level of resources, skill and experience in the group that is rolling out the initaitive – its all about the people…..
    So for what its worth here are some suggestions:
    1. Get the CEO and snr management to demonstrate their commitment to SS.  (Actions v’s words). (Time and people)
    2.Get commitment from the banks CEO and mgmt to assign the best people to the initiative. (Raw material) 
    3. Tie a substantial portion of these peoples renumeration packages to SS results and process. (Reward)
    4. Have the board and CEO review BB’s and GB’s project presentations. (Recognition)


    T R Prasad

    While I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr Praveem Kumar K on introducing Six Sigma in a bank, the situation would be same in any organization. Without the top management being clear what it is looking for through any TQM initiatives, be it ISO or Six Sigma, it is unlikely the results can be got, with or without an external consultant. The common problem in most of the organization is that after initial fanfare of introduction of the new initiative, the Management does not demonstrate the perseverence needed to monitor the progress, in terms of the training of its people, proper identification of problems that needs to be addressed – to demonstrate the ‘usefulness’ of the program – peiodic status review of implementation of the solutions identified etc. Since any of the new initiatives is bound to challenge the current procedures / job content / process etc. and would necessarily ‘force’ the employees to adopt new ways and means to comply, they woul be constantly evaluating the management’s behaviour before committing themselves to the changes. If no one is going to monitor ‘why take the trouble of going through the change process?’ So, all said and done without Top Mangement involvement, no new initiatives will ever succeed in any organization, be it bank or a manufacturing plant. This need has been well recognized by the ISO and hence we have the mandatory Management Review process -even including a set of mandatory topics that are to be addressed during the review process. It is too early to see the effect of the implementation effectiveness of the ISO regulations. It may help in forcing the managements to do their ‘bit’ in the improvement journey!
    Prasad T R
    Bangalore, India  



    If a company can claim that their staff have no time to do ISO technical stuff, then how do you expect they can succeed in Six Sigma program.
    I was told Fedex is one of the six sigma implementor, but their billing department (at an overseas branch) sent me wrong billing statements almost in monthly basis.  I rate Fedex sigma level in my specific case is either one or two sigma level. At the end, I have no choice and stop using Fedex service for this horrible experience. 
    Another big telecommunication company in my home country has Six Sigma wordings printed on their mission statement, but the best rating I can rate them is 2 or 3 sigma from a customer perpective.
    Your professional reputation may be in jeopardized to work with any uncommitted company thought they may pay you handsomely. Or you can be a scapegoat to bear for all blames in the future.
    Of course, you make your own decision. :-)



    Since Six Sigma is something you should do WITH people instead of TO them, I would have serious doubts about the probablility of successfully launching a Six Sigma program in a company whose management tends to outsource quality improvement because their own employees “don’t have time.” To me, that says the management is only paying lip-service to quality and is willing to “jump on the Six Sigma bandwagon” only because it’s the hot corporate buzzword of the day.
    I work for a bank that is committed to quality improvement from the CEO on down. He has earned his own Green Belt, he has insisted that members of his executive management committee earn their own Green Belts and more importantly, he has properly invested in creating an infrastructure to train employees to use the tools properly. Done correctly, Six Sigma changes the culture of a company to one that is constantly looking for ways to eliminate waste from all processes, and always looks for ways to better meet the customer’s needs.
    Without that deep level of committment to quality and to the customer, any Six Sigma initiative is doomed to fail.
    My humble opinion.


    Andrew M. Brody

    Dear XLCR,
    Please do not take offense at my comments, but one thing you can do to improve your image is to improve your spelling and grammar.  I am convinced that the face we show the world through our communication skills strongly displays to others our mastery of our “Quality” skills.
    Good communication skills allows us to present to others a level of self-confidence that may be greater than what we feel.  You did not express very much self-confidence in your message.  It is possible to feel a myriad of negative emotions without showing them in our communications.



    Clearly the bank is not too concerned with having a true six sigma deployment if they have chosen a vendor that (as you stated) has little to no six sigma experience. I was the VP of Six Sigma for a major financial institution. If you would like some help on the subject drop me an email   [email protected]   



    I second Eoin’s motion. 
    I currently lead 6 Sigma for improving marketing and sales at a BIG bank.  The truth is this is either a) a major cultural shift or b) someone’s brain dump – depending on whether or not they get the fundamentals of customer focused, fact-based, work by process, AND institutionalizing it.  By institutionalizing it, I mean getting fully 3% of the work force to become MBB and BB certified and a a commitment to a significant portion of the team being trained as GB/WB.  Then they, the Executive Leadership, have to manage by Six Sigma …. or else your brain will shrivel and you will die a slow agonizing death (and believe me it will feel that bad!).  Just ask the folks at Motorola… they “originated” it and yet its dying from lack of leadership caring there… and guess what – Nokia has embraced it.
    This is a 3-5 year journey – AT A MINIMUM – before it has a chance of sticking. 


    SS Strategy

    In order to help you, I need additional information from you and the bank.
    1) Have you deployed Six Sigma in the past? I mean..  building the infrastructure (HR, Finance, IT, Legal, Communications, etc) required to deploy Six Sigma? If not, then what have you done in order to launch Six Sigma in a bank?  Also, what have been your experience in building the pipeline of Six Sigma projects, changing the culture of your bank, coaching the CEO, hiring BB’s & Champions and selecting the vendor to train your people?
    2)  What is the status of the bank’s VOC strategy? Is there any other quality strategy the bank is currently deploying? Who owns the data in the bank? Why do they want to deploy Six Sigma? Have they contracted with a Six Sigma consulting firm? What’s would be your operating budget? Which Six Sigma deployment model are you following? Will you have a dotted line to the CEO? Is HR, Finance, Legal and IT on board?
    3) What is the bank expecting from you in terms of  ROIC, sigma enhancements up to entitlement or/and breakthrough, project pipeline and value of the pipeline in COPQ dollars, hard/soft dollar ratio of the pipeline, number of people trained, long term strategy, infrastructure design and timeline,  Financial management and reporting, tangible cultural change measures, tangible enhancement on the customer experience, leadership development and career path for the BB’s, compensation strategy and PMP of the BB’s, etc.)?
    In order to predict the success of a bank deploying Six Sigma, please take into consideration all these questions and make sure you understand clearly what is expected from you. I’ll be happy to help out if you provide me with this info.
    Warm regards, JC



    Based on the information you presented I see several things ocurring:
    1) The bank has asked assistance from someone without sufficient background in the subject matter to meanigfully participate
    2) You have admitted you have no formal training in the subject area.
    3) Please tell us what bank you are involved with so we can withdraw any funds maintained therein.
    This is a typical scenario of the blind leading the blind. I thank you for bringing this story forward as it is a poster child for everyone who wants to attempt six sigma then cry that it doesn’t work.
    First Data Corp is attempting to implement six sigma because GE finance said they had to. They have failed on almost every front to implement correctly.
    Walk away fropm this project quickly !!



    Dear Mr.Praveen Kumar,
    Can you give me your details to fix an appointment with you. I am working with a bank and we want to implement sixsigma in our process.


    Praveen Kambhampati

    Im sorry for a delayed reply. I checked the message today after a long gap.Please reply if you are still looking for some support in implementation.



    hi !
    adding my two cents
    – start with the business objectives – be in increase in brand, enhance retail network, enhance deposits, enhance customer satisfaction, enhance profitability
    – link these with the critical output measures that we have and further link to processes and sub processes
    – give appropriate weightage and status as is (this shall ensure gap identification)
    These steps are for buy in from top management. Create if possible shareholder scorcards (typical CAP tool)
    – six sigma awareness session module shall start next for these top guys, as to how shall six sigma ensure meeting all these objectives, this shall help getting a buy in
    – provide the improvements in financial terms, savings, profits, etc etc
    – then get resources (1 BB per 100 employees – example)
    – get them trained (or train them if you can)
    – conduct awareness session for all employees, and initiate first the lean tools to the front end customer facing guys, for providing quick fixes of daily activities.
    – initiate GB training for top guys and bring it link it to the front end guys
    hope this helps

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