Business Process Management: The Heart of Continuous Improvement

Posted by: meikah | 28 March 2012 | 9:09 am

I was so excited after attending to the Managing Risk and Performance Through Business Process Management because I felt like I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Really, I learned that

  • we achieve good results if we go through a process
  • a process is a related, structured, measured, designed, linked, and systematic set of activities toward a goal
  • assign process owners, who will perform according to their role in the overall scheme of things
  • by going through a process, we produce valuable outputs for customers

Thus it is important that an organization begins operations by creating a process chart because

  • process flows through functions
  • when functions are clearly defined, roles are better understood; thus interactions among each role becomes clearer
  • process owners are responsible for the execution of the process, and therefore are accountable for it
  • managing processes involve mapping of the processes from the beginning to the end—from executing to the managing and analyzing

Success = People + Process + Product

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you do not know what you are doing. 94% of the troubles belongs to the system (common causes) and only 6% are special causes.” {Dr. W. Edwards Deming}

Definitely, business process management is the heart of continuous improvement.

Filed under: Lean, Lean Maintenance, Process Maps, Processes, Six Sigma

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Going Lean Teaches You How to Live with Change

Posted by: meikah | 21 December 2008 | 11:45 pm

Going LeanStephen Ruffa’s new book titled, Going Lean, is very timely. In this time of the economic crisis when recession has plagued the world’s economic arena, Going Lean teaches us how to live and adapt with change.


By first giving a good background on how companies make their processes work in certain environments, spanning from Ford’s Model T to recent superstars, Toyota, Walmart, and Southwest Airlines—companies that have stood and ridden the waves of change.

These companies show and prove that excellence is best seen in a crisis. Thus, Going Lean challenges every company to think about successfully doing their business as the business arena changes. Its underlying principle is termed lean dynamics, which teaches companies that uncertainty and crisis are not temporary disruptions in business. Rather they are now the driving force of every business.

The lessons:

Chapter 1 – Think of solutions that encompasses the most number of business environments. Go beyond the obvious, and don’t think of the “now” only.

Chapter 2 – Accept that business conditions are ever changing, and that in order to survive, you need to adapt.

Chapter 3 – You may not see the future, but you can definitely prepare for it.

Chapter 4 -  Establish a new management system that addresses a fast-paced technology, ever-changing demands of customers, suppliers, and even competitors all playing in the same global market.

Chapter 5 -  Measure your success in terms of the value every process has and every worker puts in to make the whole organization work.

Chapter 6 – Do away with individualistic approach, rather work on a smooth flow of processes where each contributes to the smooth operation of the stream map.

Chapter 7 – Although you need to address fast-changing customer demands, you need to consider the implication of each demand on the whole process of the organization.

Chapter 8 – A flexible solution could more precisely accommodate varying demands. By letting actual demands pull operations rather than have average forecasts push them forward, overall flow could be streamlined, minimizing lag and waste within the dynamic environment.

Chapter 9 – Study clearly your organization so that you’ll know which needs to be changed, which do not, and have the courage to roll out the changes. Before rolling out changes, though, it is important that you have everything planned out. Otherwise it may lead to false starts, thus to waste.

Chapter 10 -A natural progression from Chapter 9 is to structure your transformation with deep knowledge of your problem, the factors/roots of the problem, the vulnerabilities, and the thought-out solutions. “Six Sigma skills can be useful here in identifying and driving down variation at these hot spots, improving a wide range of outcomes on everything from improved product quality to faster delivery times.”

Chapter 11 -  To succeed at your lean efforts, look at the whole process, not on single discrete steps; avoid the problem; pursue sustainable value, focus on the dynamic flow, get everyone involved.

Chapter 12 -  This phrase no longer works: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Rather,  it should be If it ain’t broken, improve it! Innovation and execution can work hand in hand, creating tremendous, sustainable value.

These lessons are gathered from the ample examples of how companies, especially Toyota, Walmart, and Southwest Airlines have been weathering their storms successfully.

This book is a must read! If you’ve read it, you may want to join the conversation over at LinkedIn (Sign up for the Lean Six Sigma group first).

Filed under: Book Review, Going Lean, Lean, Lean Maintenance, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Six Sigma

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Six Sigma, DMAIC and Lean Maintenance

Posted by: meikah | 25 June 2008 | 9:51 pm

The other day, I heard in the news that an emergency took place in a manufacturing plant, and that the bricks that were holding their kettle scattered.

Because of what happened, their production would be delayed a bit. Although the problem has been contained and they’re now ready to run again, they had just experienced a downtime. Downtime translated in terms of cost and time is expensive, especially in a manufacturing company.

I am sure they have regular TPM or total production maintenance, but I think they would do well with Lean or Six Sigma, too.

I found this article on Feed Forward and it has a good view of how Six Sigma, its tool DMAIC can help in doing a lean maintenance.

Define the problem – Unscheduled equipment malfunctions and the resulting rework, scrap parts, downtime and lost production. Why is this a problem? Because now days the machines and computers do all our work.

Monitor & Measure the problem – Monitor your downtime and measure or calculate what it is really costing… then estimate the potential savings and increased profits that should come from addressing this “problem.”

Analyze how to solve or eliminate the problem – Your maintenance engineer, or an experienced consultant or contract engineer should analyze and identify, for each computer, each machine and each control system how to, in the most cost-effective way, protect or harden the equipment form the above stresses.

Install and Implement – Installation instructions from above should be specific enough that your own maintenance personnel can easily and quickly install the needed protective devices, methods, or changes.

Controlling the project – Controlling Lean Maintenance â„¢ in the future should require little to no effort.

Read more…

Filed under: DMAIC, Lean Maintenance, Manufacturing, Six Sigma

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SixSig is (Partially) Back!

Posted by: meikah | 25 October 2007 | 8:17 pm

For more than a week, SixSig was down. So un-Six Sigma right? A blog about Six Sigma should have known how to prevent a downtime. :)

Well, the downtime hit me right when I was not expecting it, which is usually the case. We all know that downtime can be costly.

In manufacturing, downtime usually occurs during maintenance check of equipment or worse, a sudden breakdown of equipment. This can be prevented by putting a system and corresponding budget for regular maintenance check, which is less costly.

When we talk of maintenance problem, we often hear people say that the problem with downtime is you cannot monitor it, measure it, log it, report it, track it, attack it, or delegate it. But downtime will not go away until you “eliminate it,” that is, prevent it from happening in the first place.

How? Lean maintenance is often recommended.

For websites or weblogs, downtime can be any one of the following reasons:

  1. the database or host server is down
  2. some files are deleted by accident
  3. uploading of files is interrupted, which can be due to Internet connection or the software used in uploading
  4. an open security hole that allows the site to be hacked

Can these be eliminated? For numbers 1 to 3, yes. As they say, if there’s a will, there’s a way. For number 4, it depends. I think hackers have made it their business to unlock any security there is. As I write, I have yet to restore my other pages, the Six Sigma Interview and Six Sigma Study Guide.

Now what about the cost of the downtime?

Basically if your site is earning per ad impression or clicks, you compute the earnings when the site is up during that same length of time that the site is down.

So for example a page of your site gets 10,000 views a day, then the advertiser pays $1 per 1,000 times their ad is shown, you earn $10 per day. If the site is down for a day, you will lose $10 per advertiser.

That is only a conservative estimate, and not considering the effect of a downtime on the pagerank. Ouch!

Related source:
Lean Maintenance ™ using Six Sigma DMAIC

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Internet, Lean, Lean Maintenance, Technology