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Improve Phase of Lean Six Sigma Project – A Beginner’s Guide

Improve phase is the fourth phase of Lean Six Sigma projects. Following are the deliverable of this phase:

  • Identify Solutions to overcome the impact of root causes
  • Refine Solutions (FMEA, Poka-Yoke)
  • Pilot Solutions
  • Statistically validate results

Identify Solutions to overcome the impact of root causes

For each of the root causes identified in the Analyze phase, the Lean Six Sigma Team uses an apt structured or unstructured brainstorming method to generate various alternatives to overcome the problem. These techniques may include Channeling, Anti-solutions, Analogy, Wishful thinking, Random word stimulus methods, etc.

SCAMPER is another popular method which can be used by the Six Sigma Green Belt to systematically improve the current process using any of the following methods: Simplify or Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to different use, Eliminate & Reduce.

If there are too many options that the team has identified, then a variety of solution screening methods can be used to select the best solution for implementation. These screening methods include NGT (Nominal Group Technique), N/3 Voting, Criteria Based Matrix (CBT), etc.

Proposed solutions can be a new process, technology change, policy changes, alterations of inputs, measurement system refinement, customer, employee or vendor education, etc. In such cases, either revised process map, future state value stream mapping,  etc., may need to be proceeded.

The solution that the team has selected should directly impact the CTQ of the project. Six Sigma Green Belt should validate this.

Refining the Solutions (FMEA, Poka-Yoke)

Before implementing solutions, the Six Sigma Green Belt needs to ensure that the proposed solutions are complete and well refined. This will ensure that there are no delays, rework during implementation, and the full impact on CTQ is derived. In order to do this, a tool called Failure Modes Effect Analysis (FMEA) is used. The main purpose of this tool is to assess all the risks involved with a solution, and how to mitigate them by refining the solution before implementation. Risk Priority Number (RPN) derived from FMEA helps in prioritizing the risks and acting on them in a systematic manner.

Mistake-proofing (Poka-Yoke, in Japanese) is a method used to ensure that the proposed solution doesn’t create additional defects or errors. This can be used in conjunction with FMEA.

Pilot Solutions

Now the solution is ready for pilot. The purpose of the pilot is to assess its impact in a control group setting. Based on the qualitative and quantitative results of the pilot, necessary alternations can be incorporated to the final solution. Six Sigma Green Belt should closely work with the process owners during pilot to understand ground realities and build ownership.

Statistically validate results

In Lean Six Sigma Projects, it is an important step to statistically validate the impact on CTQ (before implementation & after Implementation). Hypothesis tests like 2-t test, ANOVA, Chi-square tests, etc., are used to perform this statistical validation. These tests help to identify if the improvement is significant or marginal in nature. Six Sigma Green Belt should be able to select and perform appropriate tests using statistical softwares.

On successful completion of these deliverable and formal Improve tollgate review, the Lean Six Sigma project team is ready to move to the Control phase.   Next >>>

Define Phase of Lean Six Sigma Project – A Beginner’s Guide

Define Phase is the first phase of Lean Six Sigma Project. Following are the deliverable of this phase:

  • Develop the Project Charter
  • Identify the Project CTQ
  • Create Process Maps

Develop the Project Charter

Project Charter is an important document that summarizes the purpose, current scenario & goal, measures of success (CTQ), project’s scope, quantitative & indicative project benefits, and team members. This is the most important document, as it creates a term of reference for this entire Lean Six Sigma project. In order to prepare the project charter, several meetings and preparatory steps may be needed. In some cases, gathering the Voice of Customer (VOC) may be required to even understand the problem.

Project Scoping determines exactly how the project will contribute to overall business, whether the efforts will be diverted to maximum impact area, team composition, financial resources required, etc. In Six Sigma, a tool called ‘In-Frame Out-Frame’ is used to decide on the scope.

Six Sigma Green Belt should closely work with the Project Sponsor to complete the Project Charter.

Identify the Project CTQ

CTQ refers to Critical to Quality metric. This is a measure of success for the project. Usually, there is only one CTQ for DMAIC projects. It can either be a measure of efficiency or effectiveness. However, it is a key performance indicator for Voice of Customer or Voice of Business. Further, it should be measurable. Usually, its indicative or accurate current performance is reported in the project charter.

The above two deliverable run parallel, and they are of significant importance because they mark the formal kick-off of the project, team member induction, Lean Six Sigma training (if not included earlier).

Create Process Maps

In order to understand the end-to-end process; a detailed process document is created by the team. However, in case such documentation already exists, then it becomes easy for the project team members to revisit it.

Process maps can be either high level end-to-end process documentation such as SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs & Customers), deployment process-charts which use Swim-lane technique or step-by-step process flow-chart.  In some cases, just mapping the process itself can result in meeting the Lean Six Sigma project objectives!

Six Sigma Green Belt can involve all her team members in this activity. Two best ways of mapping a process are to interview all the parties involved in the process or to conduct a work-out session with all parties. Latter requires good facilitation skills.

Once the process maps have been created, the team can use them to identify the bottlenecks, challenges, issues, inputs & outputs, delays, etc. Essentially, it can be used to decide which part of the process is important, and needs to be introspected.
On completion of the above deliverable, a formal define tollgate review is conducted. Then the project moves to Measure Phase. Next >>>

Business Process

Business processIf you are in charge for the success of a business process, then this course  on Managing Business Process would come in handy for you. In about 2 hours, we will introduce you to some of the important concepts and tools such Business Process Management Systems ( BPMS), challenges in handling business processes, various process mapping techniques, etc.





 Is it right for you?

  • Team members of improvement projects
  • Process owners/Departmental in-charge
  • Six Sigma project champions
  • Team members of Business transformation/ERP/CRM initiative

What will you learn

  • Business Processes & its Classification
  • Definition of Big Y, Linking Big ‘Y’s to Process ‘Y’s, & Metrics Tree
  • Organizational Silos vs Process Centricity
  • Business Process Management System (BPMS)
  • Focus & Key elements of BPMS
  • Dashboard, its Application & 7 Elements
  • Balanced Scorecard, its Focus & how metrics are linked within  organization
  • Process Mapping Tools, its Purpose, & Types
  • SIPOC, Cross-Functional Process Maps, Process Flowchart, Standard Operating Procedure
  • Procedure for construction of all types of mapping tools
  • Process States – As-is, Should-be & To-be
  • Purpose of Process Value Analysis
  • Value Added, Non Value Added & Value Enabling Activities
  • Process Cycle Efficiency

Features of the Course

  • 4 chapters with 150 mins of self-learning content
  • Interactive audio-visual medium with ample manufacturing and service industry examples
  • Interactive self-assessment quiz for every chapter


30 days access to 4 chapters of online managing business process course content


30 days access to 4 chapters of online managing business process course content is Rs.2,200 + ST

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