Understanding Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma Lean GJMAny business owner will tell you that quality assurance is critical to success. Mistakes or defects in the design or production processes can be costly in terms of recalls or customer dissatisfaction and can also leave your business vulnerable to liability concerns. Small mistakes can mar reputations – and the internet is an elephant that never forgets. In this business age, quality assurance is more crucial than ever.

It’s essential to have ingrained processes regarding quality assurance and measurement in order to avoid error. One of the most effective and data-driven of these measurement processes is Lean Six Sigma, a tool that can be used across industries and companies. In fact, our own firm has embraced Six Sigma as we constantly look to improve and streamline our processes at Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM).

In the first of a three-part series on Lean Six Sigma, we’ll explore a definition of the methodology as well as its main tenets. You’ll also come away with a good handle on what Six Sigma is all about and how it may fit in with your business.

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

At its core, Lean Six Sigma is a management practice that allows companies to leverage data to virtually eliminate defects within business processes. To be Six Sigma qualified, a company’s defect rate must be less than 3.4 per million produced.

Six Sigma has the potential for application in virtually any capacity and in any business, from honing a business strategy and creating benchmarks to goal setting and statistical measurement.

A Quick History

The Six Sigma certification was developed by Mikel Harry and Bill Smith of Motorola, a company that was among the first to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Award. As the concept has evolved, it has become a multi-dimensional approach that helps drive businesses to:

  • Improve processes
  • Decrease defects
  • Reduce variability within processes
  • Lower costs
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Increase profits

The Stages of Six Sigma

The phases of Six Sigma can be explained in the acronym DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This acronym is applicable to both operational and organizational issues, and businesses of all types and sizes.

  • First, a business defines a problem that needs to be resolved, as well as how it has affected the organization.
  • Second, a business uses various processes to measure the problem through mapping, data gathering, and the validation of the data measures.
  • Next, an analysis of the data is considered the heart of the Six Sigma philosophy, as it helps determine the root cause of the problem, which will guide the steps ahead.
  • After a complete analysis, a business takes steps to improve their processes, using several suggested strategies.
  • Finally, control focuses on continuous quality improvement through monitoring and reporting.

The Lean Six Sigma methodology has helped businesses of all types, including GJM, to identify and eliminate errors in business processes. Next in the series, we will learn more about its benefits and applications. We’ll also share some specifics on how GJM has applied Six Sigma principles and seen results.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

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