The concepts of Lean and Six Sigma are familiar to many, however often linked to the industrial sector. Lean or Six Sigma aren’t about manufacturing.
These philosophies are about standardizing work processes to make problems visible, and developing company team members’ abilities in critical thinking and problem solving – thus improving work processes. They provide companies with powerful tools to transform their operations for the benefit of both the customer, and in turn, the company itself.
Such concepts can also be applied to industries operating in other sectors. So much so, that more organisations in the services sectors (e.g. hospitals and banks) are applying Lean management or Six Sigma to enhance their process performance and are proving to be effective and ultimately a success.
Companies in the service sector are under constant pressure to deliver valuable support, excellent customer service – all in the fastest possible response. Having said that, service processes tend to have long cycle times, several complex variables, multiple decision points, and interactions with a variety of computer systems. Furthermore, service processes are mostly not physically observable and much of the value-added work often takes place out of sight, in peoples’ minds.
The tools adopted in Lean management and Six Sigma are therefore an apt fit for the services industry as they help bring to the light invisible work processes and thus identify pain points, hurdles and bottle-necks to improve operations. Some may question which to choose between Lean and Six Sigma. The common history and background of the two allow companies to exploit the value of both.
Tuning Fork Advisory has recently adopted Lean Six Sigma methodologies to improve processes within the Malta Police Force, with the aim of minimising waste in time – improving processes at a granular level and ultimately improving the customer experience through faster response times. The revised business processes are also expected to result in additional improvements relating to reporting and statistics.
Lean Six Sigma methodologies, can help to:
- Optimise service delivery processes by targeting wastes, and either removing them completely or shift to a more effective stance of a journey of continuous improvement.
- Increase profitability as a result of cost reduction, due to improvement in quality and the prevention or elimination of errors
- Drive customer focus by focusing on the voice of the customer and delivering what the customer truly needs rather than what we perceive the customer needs to be.
- Generate sustained improvement as they foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Service sector pioneers have busted the myth that Lean Six Sigma methodologies apply only to manufacturing industries. These tools have significant application in the service sector, and the case studies and corporate success stories are evident. The argument therefore is no longer why Lean Six Sigma, but when.