How to apply the Lean Six Sigma methodology
Subjects as “Quality” and “Data Analysis” are increasingly relevant nowadays. Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the value of data transformation and analysis, as well as their strategic advantages. At the same time, customers are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to cost and quality of the products and services offered to them.
In response to these management needs, new methodologies are being created and adapted to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, quality, and value of each process.
Lean Six Sigma is a continuous improvement approach that results from the synergy between the Lean methodology, which aims to reduce waste among objects, activities, human, and non-human resources unnecessary to the process; and the Six Sigma strategy, whose principle is to reduce the variance inherent in each process, thus reducing opportunities for errors that can result in defects. Ultimately, the Lean Six Sigma methodology aims to improve the efficiency of a process, which is directly reflected in cost reduction and increased product quality. It is a customer-centric methodology, focused on identifying and meeting customer needs and expectations.
By applying this methodology, any company or organization from any business area will manage its processes based on metrics and statistical data, instead of relying solely on the experience and intuition of its management team.
To implement this methodology and take advantage of its benefits, it is necessary, firstly, to thoroughly analyze the implemented processes, identifying areas of waste and inefficiency that can be optimized; and, secondly, to define an optimization strategy based on the 5 phases of the DMAIC cycle, which are:
- Define: The definition of the identified problem and the measurable objectives to be achieved with the optimization;
- Measure: The collection of data and metrics relevant to the currently implemented process that prove and detail the problem identified in the previous phase;
- Analyze: The transformation and analysis of the data collected, in order to identify the causes behind the problem;
- Improve: The optimization of the current process, implementing solutions to the identified problem; and finally,
- Control: The control of the new process, monitoring what has been implemented in order to validate that the previously defined objectives have been achieved.
Once the control phase is complete, the cycle can be repeated, applying it to the same or other problems, in the same or different processes, in order to identify and implement incremental changes iteratively.
During all phases of the DMAIC cycle, the use of numerous statistical analysis tools and techniques is encouraged, including the Ishikawa (Fishbone) Diagram, to identify the root causes of the problem; SWOT analysis, to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with the situation; correlation analysis and data regression, to identify relationships between process variables; among others.
Lean Six Sigma and, in particular, the DMAIC cycle are very flexible approaches that can be applied in various types of processes, from the production of products and services, to the management of IT projects, always adapting to the needs of the organization and the problem itself, allowing for a more efficient and effective process of continuous improvement.
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Sara has a master's degree in Biological Engineering and works as a Data Analyst, promoting business excellence at Affinity. Passionate about problem-solving, both in her personal and professional life, Sara continually seeks creative solutions to the challenges that come her way. In her free time, she returns to her "biological" side and takes care of her collection of plants and other living beings.