All posts containing six sigma


The Ultimate List of 45 Business Process Improvement Tools (Lean Six Sigma & Beyond)

process improvement tools

Processes underpin business capabilities, and capabilities underpin strategy execution.” – Pearl Zhu, Digital Capability: Building Legal Like Capability Into Business Competency

A 2018 survey by BPTrends found that 93% of the organizations studied engaged in multiple process improvement projects.

This is because business processes are the life-blood of your organization. Process improvements, therefore, prime your organization to run like a well-oiled machine, bettering your chances of business success.

On that note, in this Process Street article, we take a look at our top 45 process improvement tools. Using these tools will improve customer satisfaction, save you money, strengthen customer retention, and boost project success rate (+ more).

Click on the relevant subheader to jump to your section of choice, alternatively scroll down to read all we have to say.

For clarity, I’ve split each tool as per the following subheaders – click to jump to the unique tool category.

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Conquer Process Improvement With These 9 Lean Six Sigma Tools

Conquer Process Improvement With These 9 Lean Six Sigma Tools

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”Peter Drucker

Lean management, Six Sigma, and lean Six Sigma all walk into a bar. Lean management orders a Scotch. Six Sigma orders bourbon. Then lean Six Sigma orders a hot toddy. The bartender says, “So that’ll be a whisky, a whiskey, and a bit of both.”

Are you seriously writing another post about lean Six Sigma?

Yes. Yes, I am.

While you’d be forgiven for thinking that these methodologies are all essentially the same, it is important to remember that they are, indeed, separate. The principle of lean Six Sigma is simple: it combines the waste reduction and workflow efficiency of lean manufacturing with the defect-elimination process of Six Sigma.

To break it down:

  • Lean: A method to reduce or eliminate any activity that doesn’t add value to a process (read more)
  • Six Sigma: A system to create a defect-free process (read more)
  • Lean Six Sigma: The best of both worlds used to eliminate process waste and variation (read more)

Some may say Six Sigma is outdated, or just another example of “business bullshit,” Process Street keeps lauding the benefits for one simple reason: lean Six Sigma works.

From Motorola to Amazon, Fortune 500s have been incorporating Six Sigma practices since the mid-80s. In the early 2000s, Dell, Inc. did the same and by 2004 had saved the company $1.5 billion in costs. In 2020, Dell Technologies reported total revenue of $92 billion and as well as the increasing popularity of their systems.

In this post, I’ll break down Lean Six Sigma into the five corresponding DMAIC process categories, and provide the most relevant tools for each stage. Feel free to jump ahead:

Otherwise, dear reader, let’s begin!
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How to Solve Your Problems With Lean Six Sigma (Free DMAIC Checklist)

lean six sigma

Elisabeth Swan is the co-author of “The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit” and co-host of “The Just-in-Time Cafe Podcast.” She’s been a process improvement consultant, speaker, and innovator for over 30 years. She’s the Chief Learning Experience Officer for GoLeanSixSigma.com, a former cast member of ImprovBoston, and – if asked – may still be able to ride a unicycle.

Surgeon Atul Gawande made headlines when he told the world that a simple checklist could drastically reduce unnecessary deaths in The Checklist Manifesto.

Yet, checklists conjure images of forklift drivers on loading docks with clipboards counting boxes. How could they transform healthcare?

He has… produced a 90-second checklist which reduced deaths and complications by more than one-third in eight hospitals around the world – at virtually no cost and for almost any operation.” – James Clarke, reviewing The Checklist Manifesto, Ulster Med J. 2011 Jan; 80(1): 54.

Aviation was transformed decades earlier when management and engineers at Boeing Corporation created the pre-flight checklist after the 1935 crash of the prototype Boeing B-17 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Checklists have become so essential to the airline industry that most crashes can be traced to the misuse or failure to complete a checklist.

A New York Times reviewer noted, “no matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes”. Since the purpose of process improvement is improving outcomes, Lean Six Sigma and checklists are natural companions.

To prove that, this Process Street blog post will show the relationship between checklists and lean six sigma, and provide you with a free DMAIC Improvement Project Tollgate Checklist that you can use right now.

Use the links below to jump to that section of the post:

Or, if you just want the checklist, check it out below!

Let’s get started.

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The 7 Core Six Sigma Principles to Build Your Business Around

six sigma principles headerFinding ways to improve processes within your organization can be tough.

There always seems to be so many things to measure and so many variables to consider.

Where do you start? How do you determine what’s good? Who takes responsibility for improvement?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go in blind.

There are loads of approaches you can take to process improvement, but one of the key techniques used by some of the world’s top companies is Six Sigma.

The Six Sigma school of thought is all about finding the right focus and tightening up processes around that goal. The end result should be the reduction of defects from a process. This saves resources, time, effort, and most of all money!

In this Process Street article, we’re going to give you an intro into Six Sigma while linking off to resources for you to explore deeper.

We’ll investigate the key Six Sigma principles which can shape and direct process improvement in your business.

The core Six Sigma principles

The 7 key Six Sigma principles we’ll cover are:

  • Always focus on the customer
  • Understand how work really happens
  • Make your processes flow smoothly
  • Reduce waste and concentrate on value
  • Stop defects through removing variation
  • Get buy-in from the team through collaboration
  • Make your efforts systematic and scientific

You could categorize these as lean Six Sigma if you want to as well.

Given the evolving nature of the different schools of business process improvement, there will always likely be some disagreement over what the specific principles are.

For this reason, I feel it’s important to include the various competing principles even if some other lists might look at only 5 or 6 principles.

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DFSS: How Design For Six Sigma can Supercharge Your Business

dfss design for six sigmaAs we build businesses, we strive to make them successful in what they do and efficient in the way they carry that out.

Six Sigma is framework with dual American and Japanese origins which helps companies achieve both of these aims.

We want to take company processes and make them better, smoother, faster, easier – it’s what Process Street does. But having a complex process optimized to the highest degree, as Six Sigma advocates, is tough.

That’s why we’re going to look at Design for Six Sigma.

This will take the Six Sigma lessons and apply them to creating new processes or products. Importantly, it will help us set up these processes or products in a way which makes them ready from the start for further Six Sigma-inspired analysis.

According to Quality-One:

…[U]tilizing Design for Six Sigma methodologies, companies have reduced their time to market by 25 to 40 percent while providing a high quality product that meets the customer’s requirements.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • What is Six Sigma?
  • What is Design for Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV?
  • What is the difference between DMAIC and DFSS

We’ll run through the best practices of creating new products and processes in a way that they can be improved and optimized from the very beginning.

Don’t waste your time with poor processes. Start right and continue properly.

Read on to see how it works!

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14 BPM & Six Sigma Courses You Can Take to Become a Systems Expert

Every business needs optimized processes. We’ve proven that again and again on the Process Street blog.

However, since business process management is taught formally in academies, the available material usually consists of dense technical documents and complex case studies.

When you’re just getting started, it’s easier to absorb information in the form of video than it is to pick through a lengthy paper full of cryptic diagrams.

With that in mind, we decided to collect the best video lectures and interactive courses on everything related to the inner workings of business: scaling, improving consistency, lean operations, Six Sigma, BPMN, process management, and more.

This list has both advanced and introductory courses. So, whether you just want to learn how to improve a process, or you want to dive into the statistical models behind business efficiency, it’s all here.

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DMAIC: The Complete Guide to Lean Six Sigma in 5 Key Steps

dmaic headerWe all like to know about the broader philosophies behind process improvements, but sometimes we need to knuckle down and look at some of the more technical details.

One of the core techniques behind any process improvement, particularly in Six Sigma, is DMAIC.

This handy approach, pronounced duh-may-ik, is the key to employing Six Sigma and beginning your journey to being a process hero. We’re going to cover each step in the process and detail how to effectively enact every section.

This guide will lead you through from start to finish and get you ready to start employing lean Six Sigma within your business!

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How To Reduce Defects in Business by 20% Using the Juran Trilogy

juran trilogy

Joseph Juran, the Architect of Quality, paved the way for the active pursuit of quality in Business.

The Juran Trilogy redefined quality management; reducing chronic defects and the costs associated below a 20% industry expectation.

The Juran Trilogy has been shown to give benefits across multiple parameters, increasing productivity, reducing cycle-times, improving human safety, and reducing product failure rates – with a 80% reduction in some cases.

For us as Process Street, the Juran Trilogy is one of our favorite tools for improving business operations. It’s a straightforward methodology that brings results.

Learn how to apply the Juran Trilogy for your business, and improve the quality of operations. Click on the relevant subheader below to jump to your section of choice, alternatively scroll down to read all we have to say:

Let’s get started!
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How We Smash Tough Goals and Objectives With OKRs (& How You Can, Too!)

goals and objectives

We’re an ambitious bunch here at Process Street.

In terms of numbers, we’ve published over 1,000 onsite blog posts, over 300 offsite blog posts, penned 5 huge ebooks, attended many an external webinar, and created many a podcast, too. And this is only our content marketing team’s efforts. If I were to discuss the phenomenal accomplishments of our other departments — from engineering to sales, product to customer success — we’d be here all day.

Despite our company-wide accomplishments, we knew in 2020 that we could push ourselves further (especially considering our $12m cash injection from Accel, Salesforce, and others). Naturally, we turned the ambitious goals and objectives we’d set ourselves up a notch.

This meant that, rather than only working with KPIs, we threw OKRs into the mix as well.

Not to toot our own horn too much, but I can say with confidence that the choice to do so went in our favor. In fact, we’ve had some of the best months ever since deploying OKRs!

This is why, in this post, I’m going to tell you everything that we learned from internally deploying OKRs at Process Street. Specifically, I’ll give you a quick recap on what OKRs are, go over our method for implementing OKRs in detail, recount my experience of getting used to (and then loving) OKRs, on top of providing 5 tried-and-tested tips for deploying OKRs at your company.

Just read the following sections to get completely clued-up:

It’s time for you to pivot to OKRs and hit challenging targets like a pro, too.

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The Key to Productive Meetings? Cancel Them! 7 Meetings to Scrap

productive meetings

Dave Nevogt is the CEO and co-founder of Hubstaff Have you ever been enjoying a productive streak when — out of nowhere — a meeting invite interrupts your day? He leads a 100% remote team that builds time tracking and productivity tools, including the Agile project management software, Hubstaff Tasks.

Have you ever been enjoying a productive streak when — out of nowhere — a meeting invite interrupts your day?

Or, has someone ever requested a meeting with you, and after some investigation, you realize that this could have been answered in an email?

Let’s face it, meetings are often met with disdain, and for good reason: many are unnecessary.

You can tell by how often meetings are studied, and how much time goes into rethinking them. It turns out that:

  • 73% of people multitask while in meetings. Clearly, most meetings are not worth our full attention.
  • Detailed agendas can decrease the amount of meeting time up to 80%. Yet only 37% percent of companies use them.

It’s time to make a change. And that change is to clear your schedule as much as possible. Fortunately, this Process Street blog post is here to guide you in making these changes.

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