Maintaining Control Over Improved Processes in Lean Six Sigma

Welcome to the Lean Six Sigma Bureau! In this article, we will explore the essential methods for sustaining the improvements achieved through Lean Six Sigma in your processes. It’s not just about making changes; it’s about ensuring those changes stick around for the long haul.

Control Charts: Keeping a Watchful Eye

Imagine having a magic wand that could tell you when something’s amiss in your processes. Well, in the Lean Six Sigma world, we have the next best thing – control charts. A control chart is a visual representation of your process’s performance over time. It comes with upper and lower control limits, indicating the expected range of variation. By plotting your data on a control chart, you can quickly spot if your process is running smoothly (within the limits) or experiencing turbulence (outside the limits). If you notice any irregularities like trends, cycles, or outliers, it’s your cue to investigate the root causes and take corrective actions.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): The Guardians of Consistency

To ensure your improved processes stay on track, it’s essential to document and communicate the best practices and procedures that led to those improvements. That’s where Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) come into play. SOPs are step-by-step instructions that guide how a specific task or activity should be carried out consistently and safely. They act as guardians against errors, waste, and variation while ensuring compliance with quality standards and regulations. It’s crucial to update your SOPs whenever you make process changes and provide training to your staff on how to follow them.

Control Plans: Navigating the Course

A control plan is your roadmap to maintaining the continuous performance of your improved processes. It’s a comprehensive document summarizing the key elements of your process, including inputs, outputs, specifications, measurements, controls, and responsibilities. By creating a control plan, you can manage and prevent potential risks or failures in your process. Each critical process in your organization should have a dedicated control plan, which you should review regularly to ensure its effectiveness and relevance.

Process Audits: A Critical Examination

Think of process audits as a thorough check-up for your processes. They involve a systematic examination to ensure that your processes align with established standards and requirements. Process audits are your way of evaluating quality and efficiency, identifying areas for improvement, and confirming conformance to standards. The frequency of these audits may vary depending on the complexity of your process. To make your audit process more structured, you can use a checklist or questionnaire to guide your examination, and don’t forget to document your findings and recommendations.

Feedback and Review: The Voice of Progress

The final piece of the puzzle for maintaining control over improved processes is feedback and review. To truly understand how well your processes are performing, you need insights from your customers, stakeholders, and employees. Their feedback helps you measure user satisfaction, expectations, and the value of your improvements. You can collect this feedback through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or online reviews. Regularly review your feedback data and use it as a compass for making informed decisions and taking action.

Lean Six Sigma isn’t just about making improvements; it’s about making them last. By implementing these methods and incorporating them into your Lean Six Sigma practices, you can ensure the changes you make are sustainable, efficient, and provide long-term value. Let’s embark on this journey towards process excellence together!