Ideas for Six Sigma Projects – By Function and Industry

We have discussed the General Ideas and Ideas from Issues earlier. Here is another trigger for you to look into ideas for Six Sigma Projects by function. If you are new in the continual Improvement Journey, these various classifications help you project identification and selection. Classifying ideas for Six Sigma Projects by function will help you to ignite those who have less time to look at general issues.
Few years back it was generally believed that the six sigma method is used for Manufacturing Industry is only. How ever, Many service and IT organizations have adopted this and saved tons of money. Even this method can be used to increase the process speed and lean out the process. You may take up the improvements in a step by step approach which can give you better clarity and improve the system.

Project Selection Ideas By Function

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Finance/Accounting function
Reduce the time taken to close the accounting books (cycle time)
Improve the forecast accuracy
Spending control
Reduce balance sheet risk
Eliminate unstable customers and associated risks
Improve processing of payment to vendors/suppliers
Improve Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) — the average time taken by a company to collect payment from its customers
Reduce payroll process cycle time
Improve cash management processes
Improve payment/collection processes
Reduce electronic financial transaction costs
Reduce the cycle time of reconciliation
Reduce the procure to pay cycle
Standardize the accrual and deferral processes
Cycle time reduction in processing of Invoice generation
Reduction of cycle time in Purchase order generation

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Human Resources function
Reduce the turn around time to hire an employee
Reduce the time to process an insurance claim
Improve employee on-boarding and orientation processes
Reduce expenditures for recruiting firms
Improve hit-rate for successful hiring
Reduce Attrition
Improve timeliness and the value of employee performance reviews
Reduce absenteeism
Improve training efficiency
Improve employee satisfaction
Identify and correct retention issues

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Sales function
Improve cross-sell opportunities
Reduce time required to enter sales orders
Reduce errors and rework associated with sales orders
Reduce customer credit worthiness cycle time
Reduce the number of “bad deals” that are processed
Improve the cycle time of the entire sales order to cash process
Increase repeat orders/customers

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Shipping/Receiving function
Improve on-time delivery of products to customers
Improve on-time delivery of goods to our facility from vendors
Improve documentation accuracy
Reduce line downtime due to shipping/receiving
Improve inventory control/rotation
Improve inspection processes
Reduce the space occupied by the inventory

Now for some of the ideas by Industry. This section can be used by linking the ideas to specific industry

Sis sigma Project Ideas for Information Technology Industry
Reduce network/server/application downtime
Improve process of logging-in to network from remote locations
Improve system reliability/uptime
Standardize computer loads for configuration and support productivity improvement

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Product/Service Design industry
Reduce time required to design a product or service
Reduce errors in design
Reduce production time
Reduce testing time
Optimize Inventory

Six Sigma Project Ideas for Call Center Industry
Increase/decrease (depending on your business needs) average talk time
Reduce abandon calls
Improve employee knowledge
Reduce number of times customer is put on hold
Reduce Call drops
Improve resolution of queries
You may start resolving problems and  one at a time. do not attempt a great improvement at once. In case you have to then pilot the solution and deploy horizontally.

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Originally posted 2013-02-27 00:23:00.

Six Sigma Project Selection – Ideas based on issues

Previously i have mentioned some obvious areas which can be looked into where you are likely to pick some projects. Here are some more ideas which will guide you towards your continual improvement journey and six sigma project selection.
To build the culture of excellence through continual improvement, you need to start at some point and show some results. One good project completed will get push from the management to believe that continual improvement must be the strategy to grow. It can be used to scale up and bring in more value to the stake holders. If the strategy includes involvement of people, this will spread like a wild-fire across the organization. Here are some ideas based on issues currently faced by the people in the organization. As a mentor, i would suggest to start one of these ideas for six sigma project selection to prove the results in short-term and get the buy in from the stake holders.

Efficiency/Capacity Issues
Processes producing less than expected
Processes requiring overtime not requested by a customer
Processes requiring cycle times in excess of expectations
Processes with computer/machine downtime
Processes requiring expedited shipping and associated costs due to delayed output production
Any process that has added labor to make the required cycle
Too much of waiting between hand offs
Call drops or disconnects during customer calls.
Low customer Satisfaction

Understanding Process Variation
How much variation is there in your incoming materials and/or process parameters and how does this affect your output?
Where do you need the input controlled to always have a good output?
Can you scientifically adjust your process to compensate for changing material, weather, etc.?
Can your Black Belt help your supplier do a project to control the incoming product where you need it?
Does understanding your inputs allow you to produce a good part using less material?
Time taken for each call by various employees
Time taken for invoicability of the resources.

This list can go on. Essentially the power of Six Sigma is really great and can be applied across all issues to be solved. However, there is no point in making a project when you have obvious solutions visible. If you have obvious visible solutions they shall be implemented before taking up a six sigma project.

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Originally posted 2013-02-24 08:27:00.

Identification of Six Sigma Projects – Idea Generation

We had some guidance on the six Sigma Projects. Now let us focus on identification of Six Sigma Projects.
Six Sigma is accomplished one project at a time. Identification of Six Sigma Projects shall aim at breakthrough Improvements and not simple goals. The billion of dollars saved by companies around the world is the cumulative effect of properly selecting and defining business issues that can be assigned to Green Belts and Black Belts for solution.  Six Sigma projects are a key action that you can take to reach your organization’s strategic goals.

I have gathered some of the ideas for the Six Sigma Projects from Various Sources. Some of these are obvious and can be applied across any organization after careful evaluation. You can study them, based on your current status these can be implemented formally as projects. the prioritization shall be specific to the organization. The best approach would be pick the idea, do a brainstorming and finally come to a conclusion on the priorities. The prioritization can be done based on the current status, Quickness in results, availability of data, and so on. One of the Main criteria shall be the priorities of the Top Management who must commit the resources and give support for the project to be a success.

General Ideas for Six Sigma Projects.

  1. Customer Satisfaction improvement.
  2. Reduce the Scrap or rejections
  3. Reduce the down time of resources (Machinery) or to increase uptime.
  4. Reduce the Rework
  5. Increase the output
  6. Increase throughput (output from multiple processes, locations, departments) or Reduce bottlenecks
  7. Reduce Quality Defects from the output
  8. Reduce customer complaints.
  9. Increase the process Velocity ( lean)
  10. Any item reworked in a process (sales contracts, invoices, surgeries, software, etc.)
  11. Reduce the Process Variation (Sales, Purchase, Recruitment  Etc)
  12. Reduce Variation of input consumption (product)
  13. Reduce the time taken for Inspection
  14. Reduce the multiple hand-offs
  15. Findings from the Internal, External, Customer and Regulatory Audits
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Originally posted 2013-02-23 19:15:00.

Project Identification guidelines

We may have to decide on weather we need to approach the problem at hand using Six Sigma Methodologies. Here are some hints Which are generally accepted project identification guidelines which can really fit into  Six Sigma.
Any project should have identifiable process inputs and outputs.
A good six sigma project should never have a pre-determined solution.  If you already know the answer, then just go fix it!
For projects that have operator or operator training as an input, focus on ways to reduce operator variation, thereby making your process more robust to different or untrained operators.
All projects need to be approached from the perspective of understanding the variation in process inputs, controlling them, and eliminating the defects. 

If you are using the Secondary data validate the data first. If you are not confident of the authenticity or integrity of the data, it is better to recollect the data.
You should have enough data to start with. If you do not have data or it takes too long to collect the data look for alternates. About 30-40 data points minimum in a month is ideal. 
The team should be committed to the improvement project.
Sponsor should see the measurable benefits to have the support.
If geographical separation within the team is there, then finding a workable solution before start of the project. In fact many projects fail due to this constraint. 

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Originally posted 2013-02-22 20:31:00.

Affinity diagram and Fish bone diagram

These Quality Control tools are used in problem Solving as a visual methods such as Affinity diagram and  Fish bone diagram. These are used in some lean programs also to make sure value stream and value addition.
Affinity Diagram: – Definition
A process to organize disparate language info by placing it on cards and grouping the cards that go together in a creative way. “header” cards are then used to summarize each group of cards.
Cause and Effect Diagram
A problem-solving tool used to show relationships between effects and multiple causes.
CEDAC
Acronym for Cause and Effect Diagram with the Addition of Cards. CEDAC is a method for involving team members in the problem solving process.

Fishbone Diagram  A chart that resembles a fish skeleton, with a main spine and branches (bones) drawn at a slant off the spine; used for quality control in two main ways:
1. As a cause-and-effect diagram, where the spine denotes an effect and the branches are cause factors.
2. As a subdivision of quality requirements, where the spine represents a quality objective and the branches describe subsidiary traits or measurements that are important but are not the end in them selves. (Sometimes referred to as a Reverse Fishbone)

Affinity diagram and  Fish bone diagram 1
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Originally posted 2012-08-26 06:58:00.

Six Sigma project Roles

Black Belt 
Leaders of team responsible for measuring, analyzing, improving and controlling key processes that influence customer satisfaction and/or productivity growth. Black Belts are full-time positions.
Green Belt 
Similar to Black Belt but not a full-time position.
Master Black Belt  
First and foremost teachers. They also review and mentor Black Belts. Selection criteria for Master Black Belts are quantitative skills and the ability to teach and mentor. Master Black Belts are full-time positions.
Customer 
Any internal or external person/organization who receives the output (product or service) of the process; understanding the impact of the process on both internal and external customers is key to process management.
Process Owner

Process owners are exactly as the name sounds – they are the responsible individuals for a specific process. For instance, in the legal department there is usually one person in charge – maybe the VP of Legal – that’s the process owner. There may be a Director of Marketing at your property – that’s the process owner for marketing, and for the Check-in process, the process owner is typically the Front Office Manager.

Team leader

For DMAIC projects, the team leader is usually the Black Belt. For Quick Hit and iDMAIC projects, it is typically the Sponsor or Process Owner. For large DMAIC projects with more than one BB or MBB, the Team leader is the main point of contact for the project.
Team member
An active member of a Six Sigma Project team (DMAIC or iDMAIC),heavily involved in the measurement, analysis and improvement of a process. To be effective, team memberships require a minimum of 10% time commitment to a phase of the project. He/she also helps fosters the Six Sigma culture within the organization by informing /educating fellow Associates about Six Sigma tools and processes.
 Transfer Team Leader (Process Owner/Department Head) 
A person selected by the GM and property SIXSIGMA Council to lead an iDMAIC project based primarily on proximity and decision-making authority relative to the process involved. This person has primary responsibility for implementing the project, leading the team, and interacting with others to gather information and understanding necessary to succeed. Often, the transfer team leader will be the department head or process owner of the process being improved with the best practice. The ability to lead the team and to anticipate clear barriers are important characteristics for a person in this role. 
Transfer Team Member 
Associates selected by the Transfer Team Leader and Six Sigma Council to serve on the iDMAIC project based on their knowledge of key aspects of the process, experience with the current process, enthusiasm for improvement, and ability to champion change. Other key factors in selecting transfer team members include time availability and representation from relevant functions. All members will be provided training on the skills and tools used in the transfer process.
Project Sponsor 
This member of the executive committee is a strong advocate of the project and can assist with barriers that may come up. He or she is accountable for the project’s success and can therefore explain to Six Sigma Council members and everyone in the property the business rationale for the transfer project and assist with cross-functional collaboration efforts. He or she will remain up to date on key aspects of the project by regularly meeting with the team leader and members.
The project sponsor:
  • Is a member of the Executive committee
  • Is accountable for project success
  • Addresses cross-functional or other barriers
  • Reviews and tracks progress with team leader
  • Advocates for necessary resources
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Originally posted 2012-02-26 03:50:00.

Control Charts

Control Charts is a running record of the process performance. It is a recod of results of periodic sampling inspections.

A chart becomes a control chart when it has control limits based on inherent process variation. Process control limits are boundaries on a control chart within which the process can operate to a standard. These limits are based on natural variation of the process without the influence of assignable causes. each time the job is checked, the results are compared with the control limits. If the results are within the control limits, then the process is to be left alone. But if a point on a control chart falls outside the control limits, or any other indications of an out of control process, it indicates that there is some change which is happened and the process in no lnger operating normally.

In other words, Control Limits are warning singnals that tell us

1. When to take action

2. When to leave the process alone.

Taking action on a process operating within control limits is not only eneconomcal but may also increase the variation.

There are two general types of Control Charts

1. Variables Chart – This type of chart is used where a dimentsion of a charecteristin is meaeasured and the result is a value.

Popularly used Variables charts are

X-Bar – R Charts

X-Bar – S – Charts

X-R Charts

2. Attributes Chart. – This type of chart is used where a product quality is assessed by sensory means or the data is in terms of count of defectives of count of defects.

Teh popularly used Attributes Charts are

p-Charts

np- Charts

C- Charts

In addition to above there are some adapations to the control charts which are a combination of the above. These are called Special Contorl Charts which will be discussed later.

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Originally posted 2011-12-04 05:40:00.