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Six Sigma on Business Processes (non-manufacturing)

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Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)
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  • #27755

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    I am interested in talking with other practitioners (MBB, BB and GB) who are applying 6-Sigma principles to purely business (service, non-manufacturing) types of organizations.I work for a large automotive financial services organization that is owned by a parent automobile manufacturer. I am specifically interested in discussing the following:1. How easy/difficult is it for your organization to find and adequately define projects before turning them over to the practitioner?2. Who in your organization has responsibility for scoping and initial defining (high-level problem statement, project goal/objective and scope) the project?3. Once initially defined, how much more work is done before the project actualy “solidifies” in terms of scope and goals/objectives.4. Based on your experince, do you believe it would be better to be given a project where the High Level Problem Statement, Project Scope and Project Objectives/Goals where already defined and your first step was clarifying this into a clearly defined project that could be adequately measured?
    Or is it your preference to be given a general direction (i.e., Take a look at the Account Servicing area) and then it be your responsibility to fully define the project which you take back to management for approval? Why do you prefer one over the other?This is the first discussion in what I hope will be a long running series around Service-related Six Sigma. Thanks for your participation.Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68353

    Donna Nelson
    Participant

    Jim,Just realized my e-mail address won’t show up unless posted in the reply.If you wish to contact me, please call (505) 524-5007 or e-mail to [email protected] Nelson

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    #68358

    Karen Niehaus
    Participant

    Jim, I also work for a financial services division of a large manufacturer. We have been deploying Six Sigma for about the last year and have struggled with many of the same questions that you poised.1. Defining projects is sometimes difficult because baseline data may not be readily available.2. Business Owners and Champions primarily are responsible.3. There is some creep that takes place, ususally due to the clearer picture of the process after measurement data is being collected and process maps are drawn.4. I don’t think that a Black Belt should be given a general direction and told to pursue and area. We ask “what is the defect?” a lot.If you would like to contact me for further specific discussion, you can email me at [email protected] Luck!

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    #68362

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Carlos, thank you for the information and your points of contact. Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68363

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Michael, thanks for your feedback. My greatest challenge is in getting the projects scoped and selected. Once we have them scoped, we have very little problem with “scope creep”…because of effective management by the Black Belt.Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68364

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Anonymous: Thanks for your feedback. It sounds like you definetly rely on Senior Management to drive the Strategic selection of objectives and the projects that fit them. I think I agree that this is the best way to get projects. It also guarantees alignment with the organizations strategic direction.One other question:If a Black Belt finds a project that is suitable and fits the strategy does s/he present it to Senior Management and have them “bless” it? If so, what is mechanism for doing this….a project charter?Thanks again….Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68365

    Dunne
    Member

    1.  Some projects are defined for us by the Master Black Belts and others are not.  This is a work in progress as we’ve only been on Six Sigma for 1 1/2 years.
    2.  The managers, directors and officers define the projects initially and sometimes we smooth and refine.
    3.  Depends — I personally have had to do both.
    4.  Generally, a black belt’s time is worth less/hour than a high level manager, officer or director don’t you think?  However, it is their area and can better “zero in” on the problem to be investigated and better define/describe the problem.  I’ve had the privelage to work on three projects where I know absolutely about the process or area and was able to do a great job going through the remaining DMAIC process steps (albeit slowly).

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    #68366

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Marcos: Thanks for your feedback. What type of company do you work for? Is it a conglomerate? It is it international? Is it a service industry concern or an industrial one? Thanks again….Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68367

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Ben, thanks for the great feedback. I agree that this is more of an “enabling” project which should help to uncover potential areas for projects. We are at the point now where we have completed the enablement review and are trying to address the areas found in terms of quick hits and long-term fixes. I will try to keep the forum posted on how it goes. Thanks again for your feedback.Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68368

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Pat, thanks for the recommended point of contact. I will follow-up.
    Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68369

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Donna, thanks for your response and willingness to help. I will contact you via the methods that you gave me. Do you have a standard project charter template? Thanks again and I will be in touch to follow-up.Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68370

    Jim Johnson
    Participant

    Karen, thanks for the response. I can see that we are not alone in our struggles to find projects nor to help educate the rest of our organization on what Six Sigma is and what you require to complete a project.I will be in touch. Thanks again.Jim Johnson
    Black Belt Candidate

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    #68334

    Carlos Aceves
    Participant

    Jim,
    I guess you can consult this guys from Process Model at Provo; they are doing very fine job with their tools for business process desition making; their tools are specialized for 6 sigma programs.
    you can send an e-mail to [email protected] with Marianne Burton, she is a very good advicer.
    You can consult also to [email protected] with Pablo Nuño; this guy worket 25 years doing projects with discrete and continuous processes, he knows the principle languages for representing models and he also worked very close with Mr Taha in person; now a day he is the principle on one of the main universities on Mexico, City, and I´m sure he could give you a very fine advice about Strategic Planning, Quality and business process simulation.
    Regards
    Carlos
     

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    #68336

    Michael Wiley
    Participant

    1.  Our Diagnostic was exhausting; a couple of months with the aide of a consulting group turning out roughly 30 Opportunities, 11 which passed management approval and I just completed the first off the list.
     2. The Champion

    3. First two team meetings
    4.  I will drill a General Direction Project Definition down to its specifics point out what is achievable and get approval once more from Upper Management .  And then I give hell to my Champion for passing along a crap PDF and wasting everyone’s time.  If I don’t revise the “General Project Definition” I’ll end up with a huge scope, trying to nail numerous objectives with in a set period of time with hopes of getting only dismal results.     Thus, I ofcourse like the direction to be at least fairly specific.  Worst case, stay focus to a specific target and let the others go as future opportunities the Champion can review and put in the parking lot if there is potential benefit or get the related department to take care of it themselves.   Quick Hard Savings and get the momentum going is how I like to go.     

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    #68339

    Anonymous
    Participant

    The ideal process should be:Business strategy drives client prioritisation
    which drives CTQ definition for business processes
    which drives performance metrics (nb add shareholder metrics)
    which drives gap analysis and project pipeline
    which drives improvement
    which drives client and shareholder satisfaction
    etc ad infinitum (continuous improvement)If you get this right everyone in the org will be focused on client satis and shareholder value and you will have a continuous pipeline of high impact projects. It is not easy, hence it will be a competitive advantage to those who truly crack it. You have to start with strategy, which (guess what) shows you important it is to drive Six Sigma top-down as a business leadership/mgt methodology and problem solving kit. (NOT a proj mgt method)Suggest you do not just ‘look at an area and see where it could be improved’. How will you know for sure that your efforts significantly impact client and shareholder ? Bottom up Six Sigma gets you poor ly defined and low impact projects, weak sponsorship and low program visibility. If your top and middle mgt don’t get it, get them to get it.Drive it top down and outside-in.By the way Sponsors should write the business case, and with the project leader draft the problem and goal statements. Hope this helps.

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    #68343

    Marcos Leal
    Participant

    I personally consider more useful to give a general idea of the project scope. Even if general, the idea is to keep the team focused without taking their “geniality” out. I have already joint some interesting projects where the lack of flexibility made any rich contribution lost. The personal experience of those who joins a project is the most important contribution – each one has a different point of view and can change the direction of a project to a better one.

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    #68344

    Ben Snow
    Participant

    The high level process you are talking about is one of the most difficult methods to pursue to a successful goal.  The common description this category is “Ocean Boiling”.  To be successful, you must be able to measure the improvements in the process you are examining.  This type of high level project is generally termed as an “Enabling” project which may provide marginal improvement by itself but will spawn  more focused projects which will improve the overall process.  I would examine the large process and see if it can be broken down into sub-processes each of which supply inputs into the overall process.  These sub-processes should be more easily measured and characterized.

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    #68349

    Pat Dawson
    Participant

    Hi Jim — Earlier this year, Rapp Collins Worldwide became the first advertising communications company to implement Six Sigma. I was trained as a Black Belt as part of that process. We hired Ben Nneji (NAY-gee) a Master Black Belt from GE, to lead that effort. Ben has spoken and written on the topic of Six Sigma in the non-manufacturing environment. You can reach him at [email protected]. Feel free to reference me. If I can be of help, you can email me at the address above or call at 952-591-1647. Good luck!!
    Pat Dawson

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    #68351

    Donna Nelson
    Participant

    In a Human Resources environment, we have applied Six Sigma to a recruitment and retention issue (based on Employee Satisfaction Survey results), evaluating the processes surrounding each. I wrote the Charter and project scope with some guidance from a MBB. Since this was my first exposure to a Green Belt project, I don’t have enough experience to say whether this was better or not; however it worked very well for us. The project resulted in cost avoidance of $300,000 and a Green Belt certification for me.If you are interested in more detail, contact me at the e-mail address above.

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    #68383

    Leung
    Participant

    Jim — Although I work for a couple international manfuacturing company since certification, a surprising amount of my time has been spent on non-manufacturing projects.
    1. Initially it was difficult to adequately define projects because the Six Sigma training for upper management/champions was not solid; many did not even show up. But as they gained experience they got better.
    2. The champion.
    3. I usually sit down with the champion and discuss scope and goals/objectives. Again, the champions are getting better with experience.
    4. I prefer to discuss scope, goals and objectives regardless of the form (highly defined or vague). By working with the champion this way I get a give-and-take that helps me understand what’s really wanted and, perhaps more importantly, what’s really going on.
    Good luck.
     

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    #68392

    Niraj Goyal
    Participant

    My view and experience would clearly be that the definition of the problem at all stages is done with in the Six Sigma (and TQM way) using someone who has the experience to get the selection done.
     
    Niraj
     
     

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    #68403

    Peter Richards
    Participant

    Hi Jim,
    Like yourself & Karen I work as a BB within a financial service (bank/ investment/ insurance) company.
    Again our project scoping mirrors that outlined by Karen. We are in the early stages of our SS Program (early 2001 start date) and have found that the learning curve by all (BB/ Process Owners/ Champions/ organisation) is high and the process is evolving.
    In answer to your questions:
    1. Same as Karen but this has been compounded by current fragmented level of knowledge throughtout the org. of what ‘makes a good’ SS project.
    2. Again same as Karen in theory however in practice the BB plays a large roll.
    3. Generally once the ‘draft’ project definition is extablished (with PO/PC/BB) then unless significant adverse data reveals a need to amend/change project scope then there is little creep.
    4. Believe it best to scope projects based upon the key business goals (ie what’s business critical) to identify defects that are negatively impacting attainment (or could positively influence). This should be done by the PC. If a specific concern area can be identified then the BB can then assist in developing the project definition (ie do some of the leg work).
    I personally have been put in “take a look at the general direction” and have spent far too much time coming to too many dead ends!
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me on [email protected] as a network in the non-man. area is very helpful…I am also looking for other people experiences not only outside non-man. but also in human resources and support area.

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