Lean Six Sigma at Wal-mart

Posted by: meikah | 6 October 2009 | 7:58 pm

Lean Six Sigma at Wal-mart

Wal-mart is an American public corporation that runs a chain of large, discount department stores. In the US alone, Wal-mart runs 3,656 stores (supercenters, neighborhood markets, marketside and discount format) and 602 SAM’s Clubs. Outside of US, the company has 3,615 stores in 15 international markets.

You would wonder how the company does this successfully on a daily basis. The answer: continuous improvement strategy that is based on Lean Six Sigma.

Click here to find out.

*Photo credit

Filed under: General, Lean Six Sigma, Retail, Walmart

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Six Sigma and RFID

Posted by: meikah | 2 June 2009 | 10:04 pm

Six Sigma works well with data. So in cases where data is not easy to get or gather, you need to have a system that will do it.

In an article on RFID Journal, the example given where customer data is not easy to gather and measure, is the retail business. When a customer gets in the store, for example, the store employees won’t always know if the customer is able or fails to locate, on shelves, the products they want to buy. Or for their supply chain there is a discrepancy in the supply and demand.

For these cases, radio frequency identification (RFID), can help.

By capturing data regarding the movement of goods at every point in the supply chain, RFID can provide information that indicates only 95 were shipped. And by taking daily inventory counts, the retailer knows that units are being stolen, and can therefore inform suppliers to replenish more quickly, thereby ensuring that fewer sales are lost. Moreover, companies can analyze data to see where problems occur in the supply chain and in the store, so that corrective actions can be taken.

If all items had been tracked with RFID and the data had been analyzed properly, the retailer would have had a clearer picture of demand, based on more accurate in-store inventory counts. And armed with that information, the company would have then been able to provide more accurate data to its partners, thus enabling them to replenish more effectively.

Read more…

According to the article this is one of the ways to achieve Six Sigma retailing.

Related posts:
Six Sigma and TAGSYS 
Subjecting RFID Tags to Six Sigma

Filed under: Retail, RFID, Six Sigma, Supply Chain

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Lean Six Sigma in Retail

Posted by: meikah | 3 December 2008 | 11:26 pm

As Christmas draws near, despite the crisis, people still find time to go shopping. That is what’s happening here in Metro Manila, at least. Stores are on sale, and flea markets are teeming.

This is also the time when sales are brisk and inventories are fast. Somewhere along the way, some things are bound to be amiss, customers unhappy, and salesclerks cranky.

How to improve the retail experience?

Six Sigma and Lean, or together as Lean Six Sigma, can be useful. Let me share with you a transcript of an interview with Tony Curtis, partner, process and innovation performance for Accenture, who talked about Lean Six Sigma in retail.

How can Lean Six Sigma be valuable for retailers?
It can help reduce all the non-value-added activities and focus on the customer, and provide consumers [with] a consistent experience — whether that be in stores, on the web, catalog sales, etc. Lean Six Sigma fits very naturally to the retail world.

Read the rest of the transcript.

In short, you need to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. To be able to do that you need to create processes that address customer requirements. And Lean Six Sigma can help you come up with these processes and sustain them.

Filed under: Lean Six Sigma, Retail, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations

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Tesco Goes Green Through Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 15 May 2008 | 1:04 am

Tesco and Six SigmaComputerWorld UK reports that Tesco, UK’s retail giant, reducing its carbon footprint to help preserve the environment.

Speaking before GreenIT 08 Conference in London, Mike Yorwerth, the company’s group technical director, shared that Tesco will be cutting down on its IT energy consumption. Among Tesco’s operations, it is the IT that consumes about 75% energy. This energy powers its shops through tills, servers, TVs and PDAs.

Yorwerth admitted that it might be difficult to manage that, but he was confident that with the help of Six Sigma and the coopeartion of its IT people, they could do it.

The supermarket giant has applied a Six Sigma-type methodology to greening its IT, which comprises of defining, measuring, analysing, improving and control. This has resulted in a series of initiatives that can have a major impact on the organisation’s environmental footprint, as well as longer term strategic planning, Yorwerth explained.

For instance, Tesco has 30,000 tills in the UK that traditionally have been left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company has stared switching off unused tills overnight.

Continue reading…

Update on Tesco:
Tesco Buys a Bigger Presence in Korea

Filed under: Retail, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations, Sustainable Business, Tesco

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The Industries Implementing Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 11 February 2008 | 7:49 pm

six sigma and other approachesIn the latest sBWire release, it talks about Six Sigma and the industries that are implementing the methodology. Here’s the list:

Manufacturing – All type of manufacturing companies have benefited be it process manufacturing or discrete manufacturing. Examples include TISCO, Samsung, LG, Motorola, GE Plastics.

Banking – All leading banks including BoA, American Express, , HDFC, HSBC are utilizing Six Sigma.

Financial Services – Insurance, Stock Broking, transaction processing of various kinds.

Call Centers, BPO – Voice (In-bound as well as out bound) and Non Voice outsourced processing industry has benefited immensely. ICICI OneSource, Accenture, Satyam BPO, IBM Daksh, HSBC BPO are Six Sigma implementers.

KPO – Knowledge Process outsourcing industry is using Six Sigma tools to design and improve processes regularly.

Hospitality sector – Hotels along with Airlines and Hospitals are implementing Six Sigma. ITC Hotel, GRT Hotels, Apollo Hospitals have generated benefits.

Retail Sector – Retail has huge opportunity of benefiting from Six Sigma. The Shoppers Stop group has taken an initiative towards implementation. We have had participants from Reliance Retail.

Telecom – Bharti Cellular, France Telecom, Vodafone, Siemens have been doing wonderful Six Sigma projects.

EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) and Logistics – Global leaders like Bechtel have benefited a lot by Six Sigma implementation.

Software Development – IT Industry leaders like Wipro, Satyam and Accenture and Infosys have been implementing Six Sigma.

Read more…

According to the press release, Six Sigma is able to penetrate these varied industries because it can be integrated well with accepted management approaches, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, TS 16949, HACCP, OHSAS, SEI – CMM level 5, TL 9000, AS 9000, or any other standard. Before, I had also written about interweaving Six Sigma with complementary technologies.

Have you implemented Six Sigma with other management approaches as well? Do share your experience here.

Also check out Six Sigma Links Library for more companies implementing Six Sigma.

*Photo from Punchstock

Filed under: Airlines, Call Center/BPO, Finance, Hotels, ISO, Manufacturing, Retail, Six Sigma, Software/Technology, Telecommunications

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A Six Sigma Winery?

Posted by: meikah | 19 June 2007 | 7:17 pm

Yes, indeed, there is a Six Sigma Winery. And true to its name, the company promises only the best quality wine. According to them, a great bottle of wine does not just happen!

Six Sigma Vineyards and Winery combines the old-world art of making wine with the science of data-driven Six Sigma principles. To accomplish this, Six Sigma has gathered a team of experts working towards a common goal: Making wine of an extraordinary quality at an affordable price.

I find the company really interesting, because they have named their businesses as Six Sigma ranch, Six Sigma vineyard, and Six Sigma winery. It appears that Six Sigma is powering every aspect of their business.

As I read through their profile, I found out that Kaj Ahlmann, the owner, named the business after the management process he had successfully implemented during his professional career. Together with his wife, Else Ahlmann who had worked for consultants to large breweries, bought the 4,300-acre ranch in 2000, and put up their Six Sigma company.

When you check out their site, you will see that the company is active and seems to be a lot of fun.

Let’s check out their winery and wines and wine shop and get a taste of Six Sigma. :)

Filed under: Processes, R&D, Retail, Sales, Services, Six Sigma Organizations, Six Sigma Vineyards and Winery, Sustainable Business, Team Dynamics

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Six Sigma and Other Quality Issues

Posted by: meikah | 12 February 2007 | 12:06 am

Time and again, we are told, and even those in the know, agree that Six Sigma is not a silver bullet, which can solve all process improvement problems.

At one time, it has been observed that many organizations do not achieve the savings they hope to achieve with Six Sigma. Well, as quality people would often say, efforts toward improvement is a journey that needs a long-term commitment. And you have to commmit to quality again and again.

I believe that Six Sigma or any other quality strategies is better than nothing at all. What organizations need to do is to evaluate their processes well, and choose which quality methodology is best for them.

Let me share with you today an amusing commentary on the human side of business. It is Dale Dauten’s (The Corporate Curmudgeon) interview with his fellow executive at Mundane Industries ( ;) ), the head of Quality Management, Donald “Zero” Difetto. Published on BostonWorks, the interview touches on Six Sigma, zero-defect initiatives, and other quality issues. The issues are tinged with humor but if you read through it, it makes sense. :)

DALE: I invited you to join me because I wanted your opinion on a new study. The folks at QualPro, a research company I wrote about recently, searched for corporations announcing new Six Sigma programs, then looked at what happened to each company’s stock price. Of the 58 companies they reviewed, only six had stocks that outperformed the S&P 500, while 52 underperformed. That’s 10 percent up and 90 percent down. Could it be possible that quality is to the manufacturing business what health food is to the restaurant business — everybody says they want it, but nobody actually buys it?

ZERO: So are you anti-quality? Pro-defect? We’re building the best Mundane Industries products ever, and yes, our stock price is falling, but I don’t see how more defects are going to boost the stock price. Take our least-profitable division, our toy business. Not our fault. Our product returns are approaching zero. We are, in effect, making perfect toys.

DALE: Good example. Our lead product this last Christmas season was our “Me too” competitor to “Tickle Me Elmo,” our “Wedgie Me Wayne.” Nobody returned it because nobody bought it. So it’s flawless production of a product nobody wants.

ZERO: That’s marketing, not production. The Wall Street Journal had an article on the stock-price research that quoted Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor and Six Sigma advocate, as saying: “You can’t do just one little thing. Low cholesterol is just one measure of health. In the same way, quality management is just one piece of the puzzle, but not the answer to the whole puzzle.”

Read more…

BostonWorks, “Creating flawless products no one wants” with link provided by Six Sigma Zone.

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Interview, Retail, Sales

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An Update on “Six Sigma not panning out as promised” at Home Depot

Posted by: meikah | 12 January 2007 | 3:03 am

In my previous post, I mentioned that what’s happening at Home Depot these days may be attributed to Six Sigma not delivering on its promise to improve processes and increase bottomline.

Andrew Downard of iSixSigma blogosphere presented sides of the story. I tend to agree with him that “correlation does not necessarily indicate causation.” Read his take on “Reports of our Demise.”

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Retail, Sales, Six Sigma Organizations

1 Comment |

Six Sigma at Home Depot

Posted by: meikah | 4 January 2007 | 11:49 pm

Perhaps one of the biggest news that opens 2007 is Robert Nardelli’s, Home Depot‘s CEO, departure from Home Depot. Viewed as among the highest paid CEOs in the world—and at the helm of the world’s largest home improvement retailer no less—his leaving may have come as a surprise.

When Nardelli came to Home Depot, he brought with him the exacting management and leadership style he learned from GE and Case Corp. He was already a Six Sigma guy. However, it took him three years after joining Home Depot to unfold the Six Sigma carpet so to speak. His reason was that (to use his exact words) he wouldn’t want to push the concept down everyone’s throats.

Eventually, Nardelli made Six Sigma became the formula for Home Depot’s success. Everyone was involved in ensuring efficiency of strategic processes: making the supply chain as lean as it can be, using scale to unseat competitors, leveraging IT to reduce costs, and finding the right marketing formulas. Its focus was on quality of human interactions. The 325,000 shop assistants interact with customers about 3 billion times per year, and often at a very personal level, helping them select items like kitchen sinks and toilets. Every month, the volume of activity rises. The retailer opens a new store every 48 hours, and receives more than 10 million job applications every year.

What went wrong, then?

A banner story on Wall Street Journal, Nardelli’s leaving Home Depot was also seen as a case of Six Sigma failing to put the company move forward and maintain the lead.

We may have to wait a few days to know the full story.

Strategy+Business: Winning Hearts and Minds at Home Depot
Wall Street Journal Online: The ‘Six Sigma’ Factor for the Home Depot

Filed under: Human Resource, Retail, Six Sigma Organizations

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