Six sigma Black belt Job- Head/VP/GM-Quality Assurance & Quality Control

JOB DESCRIPTION

Location : Bangalore
Level : GM
Role : Business Excellence Leader
Domain : Healthcare / BSFI / F&A

Mandatory requirements :

  • Functional experience Drive improvement initiatives through teams
  • Experience on driving automation projects. (preferably not limiting to opportunity identification)
  • Domain knowledge is an added advantage Healthcare – Payer / Provider operations
  • Team leading experience
  • Leadership presence

Preferred Skills

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt with good knowledge of Lean practices
  • Strong Knowledge of Quality Principles and Techniques essential
  • Needs to have worked in a BPO Operational Excellence (or similar) function
  • Certification in Lean and other quality practices added advantage
  • Strong communication and presentation skills

Position Objectives 
1. Drive Improvement projects on processes to improve
Productivity
Improve SLA performance
2. Interact with client/ internal stakeholders to drive and influence improvement objectives
3. Lead a global projects in OE
4. People manager for a team
5. Drives the OE program for a client/ clients in a site/ across sites
6. Acts as a mentor to Six Sigma and Lean projects for his influence

Relevant exp 

  • 10 to 14 years of relevant experience and 14-18 yrs of overall experience

Salary: Not Disclosed by Recruiter
Industry: BPO / Call Centre / ITES
Functional Area: ITES, BPO, KPO, LPO, Customer Service, Operations
Role Category: Senior Management
Role: Head/VP/GM-Quality Assurance & Quality Control
Employment Type: Permanent Job, Full Time
Keyskills: six sigma, lean, master black belt, business excellence, operational excellence, opportunity identification, RPA Robotic Process, Automation, Black Belt, MBB, Quality, Health care, Health Care Business, Transformation.

Six Sigma Improvement of Total Quality Management (TQM)

 

The origin of Total Quality Management (TQM) had many forefathers in its inception, but was generic in nature. Meaning you could plug the works of Ishikawa, Juran and Deming (just to name a few) into any business and you’d get results — just not the best results for your specific business.

Six Sigma has some differences from TQM — it puts an even stronger focus on customer requirements; after all, businesses are there to serve their customers. So, Voice of the Customer (VOC) is extremely important in the quality of their product or service.

Six Sigma also requires additional tools used in data analysis. The financial focus is on a project level — with TQM, it is on an organizational level.

The clear understanding is that Six Sigma’s methodologies have a mindset of having a success rate of 99.9997% or less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. With these high goals, specificity is a must.

In order to achieve this level of excellence, a Six Sigma culture must exist throughout the business or organization. General Electric has had such a huge success with Six Sigma that if you go to their website you’ll see that they are Six Sigma’s biggest advocate.

In yesteryear, it was believed that if a business gave in to their customer that it would cost that business too much money. In fact, the opposite is true.

Here’s a good analogy: receiving a lawn of beautifully planted sod, but you wanted to landscape your new lawn with beautiful rocks and water efficient foliage. Although the sod looks great, it was not what you wanted and it is a big disappointment — to both the customer and the business. The customer feels unheard and the business feels unappreciated for producing a great product. It’s not great if it is not what the customer required. This can ultimately lead to a loss of customers over the long run.

For more information on our courses or services please visit 6sigma.us.

LEAN PRINCIPLES HELP MANUFACTURER REDUCE WASTE, INCREASE PRODUCTION

In 2015, American Rheinmetall Systems (ARS) faced a challenge. The German-owned engineering company needed to streamline operations to give employees more time to take on additional defense contracts.

The businesses’ parent company, Rheinmetall Defence, also wanted ARS to move from a workshop for system integration, assembly and research and development to a standalone business.

To meet these challenges and accomplish business goals, ARS turned to Lean methodologies. They have experienced a great deal of success in the two years since. Two key components of that success were leveraging the right Lean tools and educating the entire workforce in both their purpose and use.

Improving Outcomes

ARS does assembly and testing of electro-optics and fire control systems at a plant in Biddeford, Maine. The work requires hands-on effort from employees that can, without the proper methods in place, lead to inefficiencies.

In a way, the company became a victim of its own success. With products originally designed in Norway, the company did not expect to sell its equipment in large numbers. However, it eventually received a defense-related order for 15,000 parts.

The company did not have the resources to efficiently handle that large quantity. To do so, they took a path commonly taken in such situations, building huge batches, sharing tools and carrying a lot of inventory.

Eventually, the company turned to the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP) for consulting on implementing process improvements to take on larger projects. The willingness of ARS leadership to embrace change and Lean methods provided the first – and perhaps most important – key to eventual success.

Another was commitment to educating the workforce on Lean methodologies.

“ARS is serious about thinking differently,” Bruce McGill, a continuous improvement manager for GBMP, told Advanced Manufacturing. McGill said ARS CEO Brad Hittle “recognizes that Lean manufacturing is good for employees and for customers.

“He understands that sustainable change must come from their people, by allowing them to quickly apply what is learned through education and training to their own processes,” he added.

Lean Tools

ARS used a handful of Lean tools to accomplish their goals. A key was getting complete executive buy-in and training for all employees at every company work center. Within two years of applying Lean, every employee had gone through training and each had participated in at least one Lean process improvement project.

The tools used include the following:Lean Tool Kaizen

Kaizen – The strategy of making small changes that, over time, can lead to big results.

Spaghetti Charts – Workflow diagrams that provide a way to identify every step in an individual process and how people, materials and information flow through the process. It helps to identify waste and areas that need improvement.

Value Stream Mapping – Another system for mapping out the details of a process that focuses on finding eight forms of waste: defects, over-production, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion and extra processing.

Non-value adding – A method for identifying efforts that do not add value. To add value, a process step must do three things. First, it must change the form and function of a product or service. Second, the customer must be willing to pay for the change. Third, the process step must be done correctly the first time.

ARS Achievements

Putting these Lean tools into play, ARS was able to achieve many goals that improved its operations. They include:

  • Reduced space – ARS now does the same amount of work in 9,000 square feet as it used to do in 20,000 square feet.
  • Reduced process steps – In one case, a process that once had 72 steps now has just 31.
  • Time reductions – In one example, employees used to handle one small piece of the camera-building process. They were cross-trained to handle all aspects of assembly. Now every employee can build a camera from start to finish. The change reduced assembly time by 40%.
  • Small steps – With a directive from executives that not everything had to be perfect, one group of workers worked together to find small process improvements. These changes, tested without spending thousands of dollars, eventually led to even more improvements on the factory floor.

COLLEGE STUDENTS USE SIX SIGMA TO SOLVE FOOD WASTE, RECYCLING CHALLENGES

 

 

Students at an Indiana college have taken Six Sigma beyond the classroom and put it to use in improving their college campus.

At the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, students have leveraged Six Sigma methodology to make process improvements in two key areas: wasting food and recycling.

It’s led to more efficient systems and, in one case, helping underprivileged kids get after school snacks for free.

Diane Evans, a Rose-Hulman professor of engineering management, told the Terre Haute Tribune Star that the Six Sigma methodology is extremely popular on campus. She said if it was the only thing she taught in her classes, her classes would still be filled every semester.

Evans herself is a Six Sigma Black Belt.

Wasted Food

The popularity of Six Sigma on the Rose-Hulman campus is due in part because students know employer’s look with favor upon job candidates with Six Sigma training.

But they also have become true believers after applying it to real-world issues. The students have engaged in more than one project that proved the success of Six Sigma tools and techniques.

In 2011, the students decided to take on the issue of food waste in the school cafeteria. They did so by defining the goal – wasting less food – and collecting data on the issue. In this case, that meant gathering thrown away food into plastic bags and weighing it.

They eventually discovered that for every 120 students, 20 pounds of food was wasted. As potential solutions, they suggested pre-dishing food to reduce quantities, limiting the number of plates and glasses per student and using smaller utensils to serve food.

Eventually, the school eliminated trays, which prevented students from selecting and carrying more food than they needed.

Sharing Food

In subsequent years, the students applied similar process improvement tools to food service at schools in Terre Haute. In one case, they were able to implement a “food sharing table” at a local elementary school. Rather than wasting uneaten food by throwing it away, students were encouraged to take the extra step of placing any unopened food items on a table.

The food at the table could be taken by students later in the day for after school snacks. Some also was diverted to a local charity. The project ended up diverting 9,000 pounds of food waste from the local landfill.

Recycling Project

The students later applied Six Sigma to recycling efforts on campus. Again, the focus was on waste. In this case, they specifically looked at the amount of recyclable garbage thrown into normal trash cans on campus.

The students applied the methods found in DMAIC (define, measure, analysis, improve, control).

Data collection again involved getting their hands dirty. They even made a video of their efforts to go through the garbage to find items that should have gone into recycling bins. Eventually, they determined that between 31 and 42% of normal trash was recyclable.

They also used a Pareto Chart to identify the nature of the trash (much came from an off-campus coffee shop), an attribute agreement analysis to determine paper thickness (which affects the ability to recycle) and fishbone diagrams to brainstorm ideas for improving recycling rates.

All of this shows the power of Six Sigma when put to use in a strategic way. The students at Rose-Hulman not only have shown how Six Sigma can lead to process improvements, they’ve also made themselves very attractive job candidates.

IOWA SCHOOL DISTRICT IMPROVES PROCESSES WITH THE HELP OF LEAN

Eliminating wasteful practices and utilizing resources as effectively as possible is a constant struggle for organizations – not to mention educational institutions and other local government entities. But perhaps we are seeing a changing of the guard, as a number of public sector organizations have recently begun to explore strategies such as Lean, a continuous improvement process that originated in the manufacturing industry.

The use of Lean – or any other type of process improvement methodology – in the education sector is uncommon, however, a school district in Des Moines, Iowa embraced the concept and has experienced impressive results. Starting in 2015, the district participated in a two-day training event, which was followed by additional Lean training for staff and administrators.

“If you look at the evolution of how Lean has grown, it was really manufacturing, then healthcare services, then government. And the most recent segment to hit the track is K-12 education,” Harry Kenworthy, principal of the Quality and Productivity Improvement Center (QPIC) and Lean Government Center told Stephen Goldsmith, professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Innovations in American Government Program.

A Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Following the training, the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) implemented strategic efforts on an ongoing basis with its administrative offices, which included creating a Department of Continuous Improvement. There are 150 improvement projects throughout eight departments that are either in progress or have been completed by the DMPS as of December 2017.

The Department of Continuous Improvement is responsible for categorizing projects by department, project time and completion status. When tracking the success of a project, DMPS looks at metrics involving time savings, reduction in handoffs and duplicate work.

A few examples of the project successes include:

  • reducing textbook inventory labor costs by $80,000 annually by fully utilizing their current staff rather than outsourcing support
  • reducing paper timesheet submissions by 97%
  • Overhauling the batch process for paying utility bills, saving five hours a month

Overview of Pilot Programs

Pilot projects involve areas affecting a large portion of the DMPS district staff, which generates substantial buy-in from employees as they see the positive results of process improvement. In one of the pilot projects, the district worked to streamline how high-volume, low-dollar items, such as pencils and paper, were ordered. Using Lean tools such as PDCA and 5S, DMPS teams removed unnecessary steps and put the system on autopilot so goods would be reordered automatically. This new process was tested successfully with one middle school, and is now in use by seven schools in the district.Lean process improvement

“We need to demonstrate that we’re good stewards of the public’s resources. Lean allows us to examine all of our processes and ensure that we are accomplishing our goals and accomplishing the day-to-day work in as efficient a manner as possible,” said Dr. Tom Ahart, Superintendent of DMPS.

Because of the ongoing success of the Department of Continuous Improvement, more departments across the school system feel empowered to tackle various challenges.

“Lean provides district employees strategies and tools in order to be able to review our processes to look for opportunities for improvements which lead to increased efficiencies and greater student outcomes,” said Emma Knapp, DMPS’ continuous improvement coordinator.

Other Examples of Process Improvement in Education

Process improvement techniques like Lean and Six Sigma are only beginning to make an impact in the education industry. Below are a few examples:

Using Six Sigma to Solve Food Waste, Recycling Challenges

Students at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana applied Six Sigma outside of the classroom in an effort to improve their college campus. Students leveraged Six Sigma methodology to make process improvements in two key areas: wasting food and recycling. This initiative led to more efficient systems and, in one case, it helped underprivileged children receive after school snacks for free.

Dublin Schools Become More Efficient with Six Sigma

In 2014, officials at a Dublin City school district began using Lean Six Sigma techniques to help continuously improve processes, specifically problem-solving issues, reducing waste, increasing efficiency and saving money. The Lean methodology proved itself quickly by helping eliminate defects and reduce costs in the school district. Dublin City also reported more than $1 million in energy cost savings because of improved conservation efforts and a well-organized business management model.

Six Sigma and Innovation Need Not Be Exclusive

In a production and development environment, Six Sigma attempts to reduce rework from the start, cutting down on costs and development cycle time. Compared to the try-fail method, in which practitioners usually generate thousands of ideas before finding a really useful concept for developing a new product or service, Six Sigma’s systematic approach may be seen as a threat to creativity.

Clearly, there is a conflict here: Is it worth generating really innovative ideas, assuming the costs and time of the many attempts required?

Usually, when companies face such a problem, they tend to adopt conciliating solutions to get partial benefits of both options. But this often also means assuming the costs of both. To gain greater benefits at a lower cost, a better plan for integration is needed.

The Solution in TRIZ

One technique for eliminating the conflict between innovation and Six Sigma is TRIZ, which is the (Russian) acronym for the “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.” TRIZ is an innovation algorithm toolkit for generating solutions more effectively, and was developed in the former U.S.S.R. by G.S. Altshuller and his colleagues between 1946 and 1985.

TRIZ comes from the principle that any innovative idea or development always aims to improve ideality, which is the relation between useful or desired effects generated by the developed system and undesired effects of the same system, either resources used or harmful effects.

Widening useful effects often also implies widening the harmful effects, which brings up a conflict. During TRIZ development, by studying millions of patent requests registered in the U.S.S.R., researchers noticed that in many cases the same obstacle to increasing the ideality of a solution was solved in a similar way by a number of inventors in different scenarios, mostly using the try-fail method. After observing that solutions developed in a specific situation can be applied to other problems, even outside the industries or areas of knowledge in which they have been conceived, Altshuller proposed developing systematic methods to make this evolving process of innovative solutions easier. By making use of algorithms proposed by TRIZ, it is possible to study a system and quickly identify innovative solutions to eliminate conflicts, thus avoiding conciliating solutions.

Solving the Conflict

The conflict between Six Sigma and innovation can now be analyzed under the view of TRIZ by making use of one of its more common algorithms, the inventive principles method. This method consists of writing a real problem in the view of pre-established parameters and looking in a database for analog solutions that make the design of a specific solution simpler.

Further resolution may come from enhancing the reliability of the innovation process. This means improving the method’s ability to generate useful ideas without losing energy by making use of resources that do not contribute to performing a task. There are at least two ways to do this:

  • Cushion in advance: Prepare emergency means beforehand to compensate for the low reliability of a system. Which part of the actual system has low reliability? The innovation process, for it may depend on several attempts to obtain results.
  • Parameter (or property) change: Change the degree of flexibility. Generally, innovation is designed as a really flexible process. One possibility could be to input a stricter and structured algorithm to this process.

The addition of TRIZ techniques to the innovation process, combining the efficiency metrics requested by Six Sigma with the necessity of effective powerful solutions to increase the ideality of products and services to the customer is another way to enhance the process.

Uses for TRIZ in Combination with Six Sigma

By combining TRIZ tools and Six Sigma, practitioners can get better results than those obtained using a single method.

In improvement projects, for example, solutions normally are prioritized based on their impact on the metrics, cost and time of implementation. But this method does not allow for prioritizing a high impact solution that is not ideal above less powerful, but easier, actions. Identifying the contradictions in the original solution, TRIZ may help to generate an innovative idea which allows matching customers’ critical to quality requirements (CTQs) in a more effective way and consuming minimal resources.

In Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), project deployment is typically oriented according to a quality function deployment. This allows for a detailed listing of customers’ requests, translating them into inner specifications for the company. In this tool it is possible to identify trade-offs, which are conflicts between the different needs of the project stakeholders. These trade-offs, when ignored early on in the project, will demand many resources to be managed after the product launching. With TRIZ it is possible to actually eliminate these conflicts.

Another use for TRIZ is in the identification of DFSS project opportunities. Usually, DFSS projects are chosen based on products, services or processes that the company plans to launch. Depending on the company’s market and the degree of maturity of the strategic planning, this approach may lead to the choice of subjects that have little impact on the company’s results. An analysis of the trends of technical systems evolution, another TRIZ tool, may help to understand which are the most promising ways to launch the next generation of a product or service line.

A Paradox No Longer

Adapting Six Sigma in order to better assist processes concerning new product and service development, or even process redesign, requires adding tools from other areas of knowledge. The input of TRIZ within Six Sigma may increase a company’s efficiency in already existing processes, as well as in the creation of new products, services and processes that allows for the company to stay competitive.

Start Now with 10 Keys to Successful Transformation

There is no need for another survey to confirm what healthcare professionals already know – healthcare delivery is overdue for a major renovation. New management models and strategies must be adopted that will:

  • Enable quick, sustainable results around immediate issues.
  • Equip teams with solid problem-solving skills and proven best practices.
  • Empower the organization with a framework that seamlessly aligns process improvement, performance, strategy and management systems.

Is this an impossible mission? Can a century of tradition in terms of workflow, culture, financial management and the assurance of quality be overturned? Can healthcare professionals speed up the process of change and effectively spread the gains across an entire service line, hospital or integrated delivery network?

Perhaps the question should be: Can the profession afford not to?

Continuing Pressure for Change

The need for large-scale change is not going away. Patients continue to leave overcrowded emergency rooms without being seen. Medical and technological advances continue to outpace the required adjustments in process and education.

An aging and better-informed populace places higher expectations and added strain on the system. An unacceptable percentage of revenue continues to slip through the cracks of a fractured charge capture system. In addition, although there have been some gains in reducing medical errors, recent reports underscore lingering problems with the quality of patient care.

“While almost every other industry critical to the American economy has undergone some form of systematic, data-supported, quality-improvement process, health care is woefully behind the curve.”

To save the U.S. health system, from both a financial and quality perspective, many are now calling for widespread adoption of information technology. There are undeniable advantages in adopting solutions such as an electronic health record, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) or picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) in radiology. However, while a necessary and critical step forward, the push for interoperability and IT implementation represents only a partial answer.

Simply overlaying 21st century technologies on top of 20th century workflow will not automatically yield the anticipated cost, quality and efficiency benefits. Merely automating a broken process is not the answer. Hospitals must redesign processes and address the human side of change to realize a safer, more efficient and cost-effective system.

New technology, clinical breakthroughs and digitization will only do part of the job. And real transformation is not about turning the keys over to high-priced consulting firms that “specialize” in everything from software to investment banking, and usually produce voluminous reports rather than results. It will take more than an edict from the board of directors or a mandate from regulators. It is not about hiring a herd of new MBAs to replace the current department managers and clinical leaders.

What It Will Take

So what will it take to transform healthcare?

Solving today’s problems and ensuring a viable system for the future will require a fundamental shift in mindset and management models. It will take the combined power of proven best practices, evidence-based process control, change management techniques and leadership strategies.

It definitely takes leadership and vision to ignite transformation, but there are other critical ingredients and steps that must be considered as well. As evidenced by an increasing push toward public reporting, genuine transformation in healthcare will not happen without transparency. And because healthcare has not yet shed its traditional “blame and shame” approach to dealing with serious issues, transparency cannot happen without culture change. And finally, culture change will not happen without a bold vision, a common toolset and unwavering commitment.

“Achieving zero defects in health care has to be the goal. I really believe we can do it.”

—Martin Merry, MD,
University of New Hampshire

This is admittedly a tall order. But the healthcare organizations that have actually managed to achieve and sustain such a system-wide transformation are proof that it is possible. Why did they succeed where others have failed? How were they able to beat the odds and meet their objectives? What enabled them to create an environment that encourages excellence at all levels of the organization? Even more importantly, how were they able to maintain results over time, instead of watching them unravel as so many past efforts have done?

Keys to Successful Transformation

Highly successful healthcare organizations – like those which are inching their way up on the top 100 list, for example – have embraced many of these 10 keys to successful transformation:

  1. Define a vision for the future and know the organization’s current state by analyzing market, culture, technology, community needs and opportunities for improvement.
  2. Develop a communication plan to reach all levels of the organization.
  3. Visibly champion the cause showing strong leadership involvement and support.
  4. Build internal skills to solve problems and lead change efforts (i.e., Six Sigma, Lean, change management, simulation modeling, etc.).
  5. Seek early, measurable wins to build momentum, overcome skepticism and encourage participation.
  6. Take a balanced, holistic approach to ensure that gains in one area do not cause problems in another.
  7. Reach out and learn from others who have embarked on similar initiatives – whether inside or outside the organization’s particular industry.
  8. Establish alignment and accountability by linking major goals and core business metrics to projects and performance.
  9. Create monitoring mechanisms to ensure that results are maintained.
  10. Recognize, reward and celebrate success on a regular basis.

Vision, Framework and Culture Change

Any transformation must begin with a vision. Most executive teams have already crafted a mission statement and usually have a clear vision as to where they want to take their organizations. Turning that vision into reality is a bigger challenge – especially in today’s complex environment.

Successful improvement initiatives will seek a sense of balance through an interwoven framework that addresses the technical and cultural aspects of change. For some, this framework has included methods such as Lean, Six Sigma, change management and leadership development. These are complementary elements that can be used throughout the healthcare enterprise to drive long-term results.

Transformation is not about training, and it is not even just about the individual tools themselves. It is about changing the culture and developing enough experience to know which tool to apply to each issue. The figure below illustrates a series of integrated steps or phases that help to build a strong framework and lead to long-term results.

Culture Change

Culture Change

Some problems may require the rigor of Six Sigma or Lean, while others may simply be a matter of making a decision – with many variations in between. Similar to the concept of giving the right care to the right patient at the right time, it is important to know which tool should be applied to each problem-solving opportunity.

Transformation is a journey, rather than a destination. The 10 keys to successful transformation represent some guideposts along the way and are based on lessons from successful healthcare providers. They also align with, and are complementary to, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria.

Whether a healthcare organization decides to start by building the roadmap for its overall vision and fully equipping the team, or just taking one step at a time, the important thing is to begin.

MANUFACTURER LEVERAGES THE POWER OF KAIZEN AND COMMON SENSE

 

Kaizen is a simple principle to understand, but a hard principle to practice.

It’s a notion that everyone, regardless of age or station, should strive to improve every day. Each facet of your life can get better, the Kaizen philosophy argues, even if it’s just subtle improvements here and there.

Those subtle improvements, however, can create massive change over time.

That idea was embraced wholeheartedly by two executives. Richard Jackson and Craig Bower are the CEO and COO of Premier Fixtures – a New York-based organization that creates retail displays for companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods, American Eagle Outfitters, and Foot Locker.

Premier was already working on implementing Lean Six Sigma (in an effort to improve efficiencies company-wide), and Jackson and Bower felt like Kaizen was the perfect pairing to accelerate Premier’s progress. Both of them were already familiar with the concept of Kaizen, and were big supporters.

“We are vigorously applying common sense,” Bower said in a press release.

“It seems a lot of times when we walk through the door at work we make things complex, or just make them harder than they should be, where the better approach is making something simple using common sense.”

Small Change, Big Impact

Here’s an example. Think about your kitchen. Where do you keep your silverware? How many redundant steps do you have to take to grab a spoon or a knife while cooking? Is there a better spot for your utensils? What was your rationale for its current location?

Odds are, if you’re like most people, you didn’t deliberate over the drawer your silverware is in. Your forks, spoons, and knives went into a drawer that did not offend your sensibilities, and that was good enough. You haven’t given it a second thought since you moved in.

But this is the kind of thinking that Jackson and Bower are trying to get rid of at Premier. There is a better, more efficient way to do things. And the change might be small, but make it anyway!

Back in November, Premier formally launched their Kaizen initiative – they called it their CEO Kaizen Event, and to drive interest and enthusiasm, Jackson stepped out of his C-suite office, and joined teams on the manufacturing floor.

The response was a positive one.

“They see [Jackson is] taking time out of his week to do this, because he believes in it,” Bower said. “He’s making a statement that he’s not too busy … that actually he’s too busy not to do this.”

The event was more than a month ago, and so far, so good. People at Premier say the new principles are already paying off. Processes are simpler, social structures are less complicated, and the organization is taking on more work and more people.

Michael Lachman, Head of Account Management, is a champion of the new Kaizen initiative. He summed it up succinctly saying, “Increasing efficiency will reduce cost, and increasing capacity will reduce time to market – which our clients will certainly appreciate!”

Kaizen isn’t always easy, but it’s simple. And it doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Case Study: DFSS Used to Improve Account Setup Process

The bank in the following case study had been encountering problems with new customer accounts. The account setup cycle time was quite high because the information-gathering process was ad hoc. It typically took several attempts to collect all the needed specifications from customers. This was causing customer dissatisfaction and, in some cases, defective accounts.

The bank’s senior management decided to execute a Design for Six Sigma project to improve the information-gathering process for account setup. The project team followed the Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify (DMADV) roadmap.

Define Phase

The Master Black Belt and the team for this project identified the following problems with critical-to-quality aspects (CTQs) of the process:

  • A high number of discrete conversations were required to communicate customer information.
  • Employees used existing test accounts and templates inconsistently, and did not conduct routine maintenance of the test accounts.
  • Too much time was needed to set up new accounts and fix failed accounts.
  • Many accounts did not meet customer specifications.

The team created a threat vs. opportunity matrix to understand the short-term and long-term threats and opportunities. They identified several major threats to the business if the bank continued to use the same process:

  • Delays in account setup
  • The creations of incorrect/non-working accounts
  • Dollar and productivity losses
  • Negative impacts on business relationships

The bank also stood to gain major opportunities if they were to resolve the problems. The opportunities included:

  • Development of a single process framework
  • Reduction in time spent in account specification gathering
  • Creation of accurate accounts

The team drafted the project scope with help from an include-exclude diagram. They also created a SIPOC diagram to identify the customer, supplier, input and output for this project, as well as the process steps.

Measure Phase

The team segmented customers at the beginning of the phase to identify those who were impacted by the changes. They created a questionnaire to get the voice of customer (VOC) regarding the process.
Interview sessions were conducted with all the impacted customers to collect data and the requirements for the updated system.

The interviews helped the team to track high-level customer needs, shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Stakeholders and Their Needs

Stakeholder High-level Need
Bank Maintenance of integrity and accuracy of the information captured in transition to account management
Bank Knowledgeable representatives to handle account-related disputes/anomalies
Bank Efficient and timely information-gathering mechanism
End User Comprehensive and accurate collection of account specifications
End User Anomalies/disputes resolved in a timely manner

The team also created an affinity diagram to classify the needs as function, operational or performance (Table 2).

Table 2: Classified Needs

Functional Needs Operational Needs Performance Needs
Comprehensive collection of account specifications Single point for collecting all account specifications User-friendly information-gathering method
Efficient information-gathering mechanism Knowledgeable representive to handle information gathering Comprehensive and accurate information-gathering method
Accurate collection of account specifications

They prioritized customer needs using the Kano model. The following features were identified as basic (must be) features:

  • Comprehensive collection of account specifications
  • An efficient and accurate information-gathering mechanism
  • Knowledgeable representatives handling information gathering and resolving disputes

A single point for collecting requirements was deemed a satisfying feature. An exciting feature (delighter) was customer sign-off on information once collected to prevent disputes.

The team used a quality function deployment (QFD) to drill down the business requirements to functional CTQs. CTQ performance standards and tolerances were identified and team came up with a measurement plan for each CTQ. They also completed causal analysis to identify the potential causes of the problems with the information-gathering process. Lack of a standardized process was identified as the main cause.

Analyze Phase

The team performed a functional analysis to identify high-level design concepts based on the high-level needs (Table 3).

Table 3: Functional Analysis

High-level Need High-level Design Concepts
Information completely captured Accurate demarcation of mandatory and optional data requirements. Check process in place to staisfy all mandatory requirements
Information captured accurately Engagement process manned by an experienced employee to gather requirements from account requester
Information conveyed accurately internally Formal documentation and handover of requirements internally within account setup teams, and handover signed off by teams
Information frozen as per defined in service level agreement (SLA) Process owner manages SLA compliance and esclation procedures
Anomalies/disputes resolved in a timely manner Experience and trained employees manage account setup requests
Knowledgeable representative to handle information gathering Thorough training and hands-on experience to be provided to the account setup team members prior to handling requests independently
Minimum price increases Process to be simplified, streamlined and optimized to reduce time invested in account setup

They came up with alternate design concepts and selected the best possible option using a Pugh matrix and a criteria-based matrix. The team also brainstormed alternate technology options and chose the best possible one using a criteria-based matrix.

Next, they created a second QFD to drill down the functional requirements so they could create a low-level design. The requirements included:

  • Alignment from all teams concerned with the process
  • Appointment of a single process owner
  • Defined checklists and checkpoints in the process
  • Clear communication and escalation channels
  • Knowledgeable representatives managing the process

A system design concept for test account setup was created using the functional specifications received from the second QFD. The information gathering module was designed to minimize the number of interactions required to capture the account specifications accurately and convey them to the account setup team.

The data flow for the information gathering module for the account setup process was as follows:

  1. Information was collected through a web interface available on the bank’s intranet.
  2. Once the information was submitted, it was reviewed by the account setup team.
  3. After review, a call was placed with the requester to review the information.
  4. If the required details were present in the request, the request was signed off on by the requester. If not, the request was returned back to the requester for fulfillment.
  5. Upon sign-off, the request was submitted to the account management module for further processing.

Design and Verify Phases

The team created alternative low-level designs (LLD) for the same set of CTQs. They completed risk analysis using an FMEA for the LLD. Action items were identified on the following risks:

  • Human error in identifying the type of the account required
  • Incomplete/inaccurate information gathering
  • Flaw in application design allowing incomplete information to be submitted
  • New account set up when the information could have been gathered from the requester’s already existing accounts

They created a verification plan considering the following points:

  • Collect post-implementation data for information gathering
  • Get verification from the requesters to make sure the information was captured accurately
  • Calculate the time reduction per request in comparison to the average time taken earlier (pre implementation)
  • Note any exceptions to the process

The team also drafted unit and integration testing plans. They piloted the changes with a specific set of users and observed the functionality of the new information-gathering system.

The following activities were performed for performance verification:

  • The team created a plan (procedure and frequency) for collecting CTQ metrics defined in the Measure phase.
  • They collected full-scale results of the newly designed process and verified the data against set targets.
  • Finally, they created a failure response plan.

As part of project closure, the Six Sigma team handed over the process flowchart to the account setup team. They also conducted demos for the account setup team and trained them on the replication opportunities.

Lean Six Sigma A3 Process Keeps Problem Solving Organized

When problem solving, staying in an organized systematic path is extremely important, otherwise new issues could arise. That’s why the Lean Six Sigma approach called A3 is so genius. Basically, the A3 process is a structured template for solving problems in a continuous matter.

The A3 approach is also known as SPS, which stands for Systematic Problem Solving. This approach is based on the principals of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

The reason for the A3 approach is to provide structure to problem solving, and helps determine what caused the problem.

 

A3 Process of Problem Solving

Background: Select an issue you want to resolve. State how this issue impacts your business, your customers, and processes, and of course your bottom line or financials.

Problem Statement: Make a detailed statement of the issue. Quantify exact issue and define detailed specifics so that the impact of the issue is communicated to others.

Goal Statement: Make a goal statement and what you want to accomplish by taking on this A3 project. You can map out what exact goals you will accomplish. Include timeframe for accomplishing this goal.

Root Cause Analysis: Conduct a thorough analysis as to what might be causing this particular issue.

Countermeasures: These are the steps that you are going to take to make the necessary changes. Make sure you are addressing the root causes that you have found.

Develop the New Target State: Illustrate how you will address the root causes of the issue. You will use a diagram on how the newly proposed process will work. When communicating your countermeasures, make sure you note the projected or expected improvements.

Implementation Plan: This is your well-thought out workable plan. Include a list of actions that need to get done so that the countermeasures can take place and improvement can be obtained.

Follow-up Plan: This is to make sure that the target goal was met. Check on it at a regularly scheduled time to make sure the target has been met.

Discuss with Affected Parties: You must communicate all changes to those it affected and see how the progress has improved. Here is where concerns should be addressed if there are any.

Get Approval: Make sure everyone is onboard with the new plan.

Implementation: Execute the new implementation plan.

Evaluate the Results: Measure the results and make sure you hit your goal if you haven’t hit it.

Your goal is to then repeat implementation plan until the goal is met.

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