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Business Process Management: How to Choose Between the Different Methodologies

Phases of Six Sigma visualThe attention focused on business process management has been heightened in recent years, thanks to the quantitative ability to collect digital data. The important thing to remember is that, at their core, the best process management methods are all about people interacting with machines and other people to create quality products and processes.

It is important that the process fits the end goals of the company in order for those methods to be effective. No amount of digital adjustment from any computer program is going to make an incorrectly placed process work in a business environment.

When it comes to process management, there are three main types that business owners can choose from; Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma. They all have their benefits, but you need to make sure that you are choosing the right process for your business. A look at the benefits of each process will help you to determine which one works best for you.

Lean Manufacturing

Many people still include the word “manufacturing” in with the title for the Lean process because, for so long, it was primarily used by manufacturing companies. These days, any company can utilize the Lean method and benefit from what it has to offer.

Under the Lean business process, a company only uses materials and methods that achieve an end for the customer or the business. Anything that is not designed to meet corporate goals is considered unnecessary and eliminated.

For example, spending money on office supplies without understanding your company’s real consumption needs goes against the Lean process. To be Lean, you would need to analyze your office supplies purchases from the past several years and only buy what you absolutely need.

One of the biggest benefits about using the Lean process is that it eliminates unnecessary spending on production materials and processes. A drawback of the process is that it does not allow for the kind of quality control needed to keep a company operating efficiently. But for a manufacturing company or an office on a budget, the Lean process is ideal.

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma Methodology was made famous by former GE CEO Jack Welch, and it has taken off in companies all over the world. The best way to describe Six Sigma is to examine its belt system, which has been compared to the belts that are presented in karate. Each belt represents a higher understanding of the Six Sigma process and helps people to identify where each employee fits in the corporate process.

A white belt represents a basic understanding of problem solving and teamwork methods. A yellow belt represents a person who can lead a team and spearhead a project. A black belt is considered an expert at solving problems and leading teams. A green belt is an expert at collecting data for black belt projects. A master black belt trains green belts and black belts. A champion translates company goals into plans, and an executive provides guidance to champions.

The focus of a Six Sigma plan is to create an effective staff that can solve problems and address any challenges the company may have. This is an extremely effective method for creating a dynamic and flexible corporate team.

One of the problems with Six Sigma is that its tendency to put people into categories tends to limit creativity or prevent people who deserve to be team leaders from being those leaders.

Graph of the Six Sigma DMAIC cycle

Image Credit: ARIS Community

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma combines the efficiency of the Lean process with the organization of the Six Sigma approach. There are still the various levels of belts in this method, but each belt has very specific core goals that are designed to help the company to meet all of its objectives.

Lean Six Sigma, in some respects, is a bit limited for larger corporations. But if you have a small to medium sized business, then this approach can be extremely effective. You will be able to cut down on any waste in regards to corporate resources, and your company will have a strengthened sense of teamwork that can make it extremely effective.

Choosing a business methodology depends on several factors. The Lean process works well for small offices and any size manufacturing organization, but it may not be easy to implement in a large office setting. Six Sigma is ideal for a large office setting, but it may be too limiting for a manufacturing organization. The Lean Six Sigma approach works in a variety of corporate environments, but it may not be robust enough for larger corporations.

The choice is yours. The best approach is to become as educated as you can on each of the popular business methodologies, and then choose the one that will help your company to achieve its goals.

Six Sigma is a business methodology implemented worldwide across multiple industries, and has proven to help corporations achieve hard and soft money savings while improving customer satisfaction. The various belt certifications courses are offered throughout the USA, as well as in Russia, Switzerland, UAE, and Malaysia.

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