While broad application of Lean Six Sigma Management techniques has helped manufacturers attain high levels of productivity, improve quality and reduce costs, services have lagged behind. Nevertheless service performance can be greatly enhanced by applying Lean methodologies: Instead of inventories as key visible proxies for inefficiencies, waste, defects and time delays that sap productivity and increase costs in manufacturing, the focus in services needs to be on less visible, often hidden, factors that tend to lurk in process interfaces (functions, business units, regions) or upstream of where problems actually manifest themselves.
Our approach, which specifically extends to diverse service environments, starts by aligning customer needs and expectations to service requirements and the service delivery system, while prioritizing key processes based on “value at stake”. Operational data and process maps and a “design-to-service” lens, allow us to discover major improvement potential, often far upstream of the point of service delivery. We then redesign end-to-end processes to close gaps, address bottlenecks and improve process quality, while reducing complexity, inefficiencies, waste and, ultimately, cost. We define and standardize work modules and set up performance metrics.
Implementing Lean Six Sigma concepts in service operations is an exercise in change management. To succeed and sustain over the long run it is important that employees are motivated, engaged and attain the necessary capabilities and mindset of continuous improvement. We therefore determine needs for employee training, deliver workshops and facilitate and support change management initiatives.