Finding 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.
The following is a guest post by professional copywriter and freelance writer Michael Schultheiss, owner of Inkwell Freelance.
Imagine if your support staff had no set guidelines for handling a ticket.
It would be like you pulled in a group of random people from the street, sat them down at the helpdesk, and expected to see a job well done.
Instead of a job well done, it’d probably look more like this:
That’s essentially what you’re allowing when you fail to standardize processes. Your company’s operations consist of tasks that must be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis to ensure that it runs smoothly. But if these processes aren’t standardized, you’re inviting chaos.
Every task — regardless of how often you do it — requires rules that define the scope, quality, and methods to be followed. If you don’t standardize these rules, you can’t have visibility over whether you’re ensuring quality and reducing human error.
In short, running your business will be an operational nightmare.
To help you avoid that, in this article we’ll look at process standardization as follows:
They’re the lifeblood of any consistent business, allowing it to repeat its successes, avoid mistakes, increase efficiency, and create effective to do lists. Without them you have no hope of even knowing what you’re doing right or wrong – you’ve more chance of putting together IKEA furniture with no instructions than of improving your situation and growing your business.
However, without standardizing processes you make, anything you document will do more harm than good.
Different layouts will make it hard to distinguish what the correct version of the process is, varying language across your teams will make working together a nightmare, while multiple naming and storage methods make it impossible to search for the process you need.
So, today I’ll show you how to standardize your processes by creating a documentation style guide which suits your needs. This guide can then be followed whenever anyone in your business needs to document a workflow.
It’s time to unify your company and cement your success.