Archive for the ‘Operational Excellence Training’ Category

Foundation Process Skills and Tools – Spread the Word

June 21st, 2012 Comments off

Today’s post is a little different in that instead of just providing some insight or idea that we hope you find useful, I’m going to ask for your help. But first a little background.

In just a matter of days, we will celebrate the beginning of our fifteenth year as Six Sigma Qualtec. While we go back over 25 years as Qualtec Quality Services, we became Six Sigma Qualtec when we acquired Six Sigma capabilities in 1998.  Since then we were at the forefront of the development of enterprise deployment models with different belts for different demographic groups, industry specific curriculum, integration of lean and customization for service and transactional environments.  And a constant mission through it all has been the transfer of knowledge.

As we look forward, we are amazed by what was spawned by those early days in our small niche of the business community.  The most startling aspect is how it’s really not so small anymore.  There are now thousands upon thousands of disciples of the practices with which we began years ago.  Imagine there are over 5,000 subscribers like you to our blog!  Yet we are also cognizant of how much further it can go.

Basic, foundation skills in process management and problem solving are still in high demand. Companies continue to look for ways to drive this widely applicable skillset as broadly as possible,  in the hopes of improving customer’s experience and productivity.

We believe that is really the next frontier … to expand the foundation knowledge so it’s part of everyday work for everyone …  a way of thinking.  And we know we, as individual teachers, can’t reach that broadly visiting facility by facility.  Our contribution to this next phase is to contribute our approaches, materials, tools, and methodologies.  That’s already been the case for many years with our Master Black Belt programs, but the knowledge that needs to be in everyone’s hands isn’t of the depth and intricacy of a Master Black Belt.  It’s about the fundamentals, the things that can be used every day.

So it is to the broad distribution of fundamental knowledge, especially in the services industries where process thinking is in high demand and can have significant impact, to which we will devote ourselves as we enter our fifteenth year of operations.  Our mission will become increasingly about empowering and supporting your ability to spread the word and teach the discipline in an effective way.  So be on the lookout for how we will do this with new materials and tools as we rededicate ourselves to changing the way business is conducted to make our clients successful.

Tell us about your training/skills needs

We always try to provide something of value to our subscribers in every post we make, and will continue to do so.  Now, we’re asking for your input.  If you have specific ideas or see specific needs in your organization, please take a moment to tell us about it.  It will help us tailor our content to what you really need to make a difference in your organization.  Thank you in advance for your help!

Applying Lean at an Operation Level for HR, Finance, IT and other Internal Service Functions Can Yield Good Results

October 21st, 2011 3 comments

Organizations are increasingly adding tried and true Lean principles, tools and techniques to their continuous improvement initiatives to eliminate waste, improve customer satisfaction and reduce unnecessary costs.  And rightly so.  Successful Lean routinely reduce operating costs 20% – 40% and cycle time by even greater margins, and those cost reductions often go straight to the bottom line.

Lean Operations, Lean Management in Internal Services FunctionsTraditionally, in applying Lean, trained teams identify then eliminate or significantly reduce the non-value added activities and related costs for specific processes within their operation.  But what if there are no “trained teams”?  What if process boundaries are unclear in a functionally silo’d organization?  Does this mean you can’t do anything to get results until significant infrastructure is in place?  I think not.


Download an overview of our approach for applying lean at an operations level for internal service functions a short overview of our approach to applying lean at an operations level to internal service functions

We’ve found that Lean concepts and tools can be leveraged at a higher, function or operation level  very effectively.  The good news is that this approach delivers impressive business results on its own in the short term AND sets the stage for even more impactful process level improvements.  This is especially true for back office / internal service operations like HR, finance, IT, sales and marketing, supply chain management, etc.

Lean applied at an Operation Level for internal service and back office functions like HR, Finance, Procurement, IT, Marketing and Sales, and Supply Chain Management can make an immediate business impact …


The idea is to identify a complete business operation‘s most impactful cost drivers, BEFORE tightening focus to any process/subprocess in the value stream.  For those of you that have done Lean at the process level, I know this sounds a bit strange and your first thought may be that the scope will be too big and nothing will get done. But, our experience is that this can work very well and be very impactful:

  • It can serve as a front-end audit function, greatly helping to identify next tier focus areas.
  • It recognizes and works within functional boundaries that exist in the enterprise, as opposed to attempting to force artificial process boundaries that, while may be desirable, do not exist
  • It maps and costs all key value streams of a targeted business function or sub-function, a necessary prerequisite for lower level improvements
  • Attacks waste organization wide,  in both the supply-side (internal function itself) and demand-side (customer, consumer of the output).
  • It consistently identifies low hanging fruit opportunities that can be realized immediately
  • It can be used to jumpstart a new lean initiative or address unrealized opportunities from earlier lean events.

Lean Operations (lean applied at an high-level operations level) can definitely be a powerful tool for enterprises that are looking for immediate cost savings and/or performance improvements in internal service operations, but don’t have the desire/bandwidth/budget to start up a formal Continuous Improvement program.   It can be applied to an entire operation (e.g. HR, finance, Legal, IT, etc)  in a relatively short time period, and it does not require a big investment in training and infrastructure.  For those organizations that do want to move to a more structured Continuous Improvement program, it can be an excellent way to jumpstart a BPM, Lean, Six Sigma, etc. program

Need to improve performance or lower costs in internal service functions like Human Resources (HR), Finance, Procurement, Supply Chain, IT, Marketing and Sales, or any other back office type function?   Contact me to learn more about our approach to applying lean at an operations level.


Yellow Belts Can Help Sustain Your Gains

May 5th, 2011 1 comment

Over the past 20 years of experience, we’ve learned the key to sustaining performance improvement gains rests on process management.  This role is entrusted to a broad group of employees who are often the process owners and, when not the process owners, are still the most affected by large scale improvements.  Providing them the proper skills forms a critical component of a robust quality management system.

Some have dubbed this person and the required skills Yellow Belt but that term hasn’t done the role justice.  Yellow Belts are often thought of as data collectors or Black Belt assistants.  But a Yellow Belt’s ability to control and manage processes using metrics and data as well as solve problems using basic quality tools gives them far more impact.  Their power doesn’t come from their place in a tiered pecking order of Master Black Belt, Black Belt and Green Belt but in their numbers, demographics, foundational skills and role.

Download our executive that discusses how Yellow Belts play a crucial role in sustaining process improvement efforts

our executive brief that discusses how Yellow Belts play a crucial role in sustaining process improvement efforts

Yellow Belt training introduces the majority of individual contributors to the concepts of process improvement and management and their position in their organizations make a direct connection to improvement efforts.  Yellow Belt training can be fit to how people will be expected to operate.  If positioned to assist Black Belts, they have little need for project selection or analytical tools.  However, if Yellow Belts are expected to sustain gains long after Black Belts have left, a more complete set of tools is required.

Many organizations have active Operational Excellence programs that consistently execute projects through to implementation successfully.  But to make it stick, drive it wide and take care of low hanging fruit, they should look at process management which forms the core of Yellow Belt capability.  If you’d like to see the core concepts covered in Yellow Belt training, contact us or go to our website’s Yellow Belt webpage where you can download complimentary Yellow Belt training materials.

Join Us on Twitter for Thoughts and Announcements

September 2nd, 2010 Comments off

First, we want to thank all of you that have subscribed to our blog. We have over 1,000 subscribers and the list grows every day, week and month. We hope we are providing you relevant information. If there is anything you’d like us to bring to you, let us know. If we don’t have the content, we’ll recruit guest bloggers that do.
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On another note, we began “tweeting” about a month ago and just were rated in the top half of Twitter profiles by Hubspots ranking tool. We have grown a nice group of friends who we follow and that follow us by regularly tweeting on key subjects as well as making announcments about our complimentary content offerings. We invite you to join us on twitter at @sixsigmaqualtec.

Thanks for your support and have a great Labor Day weekend. See you on the other side.

On Demand Performance Improvement: Still Don’t Believe?

August 6th, 2010 Comments off

We’ve been blogging regularly and published a white paper about the use of social media tools in learning. The central thesis has been that our economic environment demands continued, and even accelerated, learning while the traditional costly and time consuming paradigm of training isn’t meeting our needs. Take a look at On Demand Performance Improvement and Economically Delivering the Right Mix of Lean, Six Sigma and Business Process Management. Do our writings have merit or are they simply futuristic musings? Well take a look at this You Tube video entitled Did You Know?

Those of us that are going to make it to the other side must learn new skills and will use technology differently to do so. We’ll learn to do something by going to You Tube to find a video; by using search engines to find the knowledge we want when we want to apply it; and by asking our network of friends, family and colleagues using FaceBook and LinkedIn. Socially connected in the business world does not mean going to lunch together, it means peer learning and sharing. Almost all knowledge will be new in the sense that it will be continually learned. We are excited about this prospect. Continuous learning is essential and we have the means by which to provide it.

On Demand Performance Improvement

July 6th, 2010 Comments off

A new reality of today’s workplace is how stretched we are as a workforce. Reported productivity increases have posted consecutive gains few thought could be attained. Weekly hours worked are at just about the same level as when the economic expansion was at its peak. While the slack in the broad economy has never been greater, workers are stretched.

At the same time, for reasons I wrote about in my June 23rd post entitled Why VOC and Customer Experience are Front & Center?, the goods and services we buy and what we require is changing. Reacquiring customer requirements and redesigning goods and services, as well as the processes that deliver those goods and services takes people and work. So as productivity skyrockets, the demands on the workforce rise just as fast.

To give these people the skills and support while recognizing the demands on their time, the transfer of knowledge must become more efficient. Content must be modular and interchangeable based on the needs of individuals. Instruction must include both the benefits of human interaction and asynchronous delivery. Support must be on-demand and micro-targeted to specific learning challenges. And it must all be at a cost that fits today’s demands for value.

Years ago this list of requirements would have been unthinkable as functionality and cost pulled in opposite directions. But today, technology, a tremendous stored warehouse of intellectual property and new working relationships make these things attainable. A massive library of content across the spectrum of subjects throughout the economy, blogs, podcasts, collaboration tools and a highly skilled and flexible base of experienced people allow us to structure On Demand Performance Improvement at an investment level company’s can’t afford not make.

Give your people the new skills and support they need to meet the escalating demands on their time. The returns are there as the projects have breakthrough opportunity and the investment is affordable. Break the paradigm with which you’ve been training and supporting your people. Use the wave of technologies, content and people available. The time is now.

Contact us to discuss how you might implement an on demand model for business performance and process improvement.

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