August 13, 2021
At Grimbleby Coleman CPAs, we work with clients to achieve superior financial and operational results, but one of the major roadblocks to success we’ve seen over the years is the lack of internal efficiency and wasted time on routine functions, even in our own operations. This often trickles down to other areas of business, bogging down other processes. Businesses of every size can increase revenues by improving efficiencies, reducing unnecessary costs, evaluating business operations, facilitating change management, and reconciling operational improvements with financial performance.
It may sound like a daunting overhaul, but investing in a process improvement program, such as Lean Six Sigma, can dramatically cut waste and streamline how work is structured and the products and services you can deliver. If you’ve ever asked yourself how you can take your business to the next level of productivity, efficiency, and overall output, then keep reading.
We’ve put Lean Six Sigma (LSS) to the test, and it has continued to yield positive results — now we’re sharing how it can help you deliver better service to clients and customers, increase capacity to offer higher-value services, and streamline your business.
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Many businesses in manufacturing, packaging, and distribution use Lean Six Sigma as a method that provides meaningful analytics and process skills relevant to leadership positions. Developed in the 1940s, “Lean” refers to a methodology that reduces waste and optimizes flow by eliminating unnecessary transactions and administrative tasks. “Six Sigma” has been around since the 1980s as a process improvement strategy that improves output quality by reducing defects. The ideal goal is to fix a process so that it will be 99.9997% defect-free or produce only 3.4 defects per million opportunities or less. Over time it has evolved and become a standard for process improvement in all industries and at many levels of business functions.
What Does Certification Mean?
Certification involves in-depth training where practitioners receive “belts" signifying experience levels (starting with White, Yellow, Green, and then Black Belts). These belts roughly correspond to the hierarchy in martial arts, with darker colored belts indicating more expertise in the five-phase framework for Lean Six Sigma: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC). Additionally, LSS helps companies identify where they are experiencing the 9 categories of waste: defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, excess processing, and attitude — all of which spell out downtime and lost productivity.
We recommend you first begin by identifying the person in your company best suited to be a project champion, usually a high-ranking manager who will work with a Black Belt to ensure that barriers to project success are removed and the project team has the organizational support it needs to be effective. Then choose a cross-section of your leadership and support staff to embark on the training. Having all levels of staff involved will contribute to company-wide buy-in.
LSS Highlights Problem Areas with Value Stream Mapping
We can all benefit from visual aids at times, particularly when connections become complex. Data visualization and flow charts are not a big secret. A vital part of the Lean methodology is value stream mapping (VSM) — a flowchart method to illustrate the process from origin to client delivery, highlighting waste throughout the journey. The team can follow the footprint of the process and root out items that don’t add value. Decision-makers can see problems like process delays, excessive downtime, constraints, and inventory hang-ups and then see how and where to improve.
LSS creates consistency and standardization
With your entire company following the same set of standards, there’s no variation to manage. You work from the same playbook, so customers receive consistent, high-quality results you can depend on year after year. Becoming an improvement expert can also help you participate in high-impact, meaningful projects that deliver positive results and increased value for your customer.
Financial guidance that gets to the root of your problems
Like most productivity problems, awareness of the primary obstacles is key. A Lean Six Sigma approach starts by looking into internal issues — a process that can eventually improve your bottom line. With guidance from the Lean Six Sigma CPA training at Boomer Consulting, Inc., we’ve participated in training beyond the basics and created sustainable success for our employees and more efficient and comprehensive solutions for our clients, but there’s a wide variety of Lean Six Sigma consultants to go around, many with industry-specific expertise.
As trusted partners and advisors, we do our research and we’re happy to share what has worked for us with our valued clients. These efforts are part of our vision to build a stronger future for our business and yours. Consult your accountant or contact our resident Green Belt, Caitlin Kleinschmidt (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you have more questions about evaluating Lean Six Sigma and its benefits to your business.