Lean Six Sigma – It Applies to Manufacturers and Business Advisory Firms Alike

October 13, 2016 | Eric Thuente

Eric Thuente | BerganKDV

Lean Six Sigma is the combination of two concepts that have made a major impact in manufacturing. Lean was developed by Toyota Motor Corp. as an extension of what it learned from Ford. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola, adding in the component of financial accountability. Lean is all about eliminating wasteful activity and becoming more efficient while Six Sigma is focused on improving quality and eliminating variations of the end product. At the end of the day, the combination of the two can make great impacts on an organization.

How It Works
A Lean Six Sigma project involves a few simple steps, but that doesn’t mean they are easy. They are time-consuming and resource intensive. In its simplest form, the steps are as follows:

  • Assemble a balanced team from multiple disciplines and levels
  • Document your existing process
  • Tear apart that process
  • Go back and document the new and improved process based on the Lean Six Sigma principles
  • Communicate, train and rollout the new process

What Are the Benefits?
A comprehensive process improvement project will drive out redundancies, personal preferences and overall inefficiencies. It will help to eliminate the tunnel vision that develops over years of doing the same jobs. Roles are often “line of sight” and it’s not until you step back and look at the entire process that you start to see dependencies that we've never seen before.

You can also identify wasted time and money. Hidden dollars start to show themselves. Morale and job satisfaction improve because people are more efficient and aren’t wasting time doing meaningless or redundant tasks. You’ll have more consistent and effective work and can ramp-up new hires. Current employees can more easily shift between roles within your firm because the amount of time that it takes to get them up to speed is reduced significantly.

It Isn’t Just for Manufacturing Anymore
Lean’s roots are definitely in the manufacturing world. But, any organization that wants to be more efficient and consistent in their processes can find benefit. BerganKDV is embarking on the Lean Six Sigma journey this fall. The firm is hoping to improve the utilization of our resources and technology firm-wide, better manage the inflow of client data and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our organization to deliver greater client service than ever before.