The Green Belt who led the team at NBHC Gulfport, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Carolanne Hardy, told the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), “I am very proud of the team and what we were able to accomplish. The feeling is indescribable.”
Completing the process was part of the Six Sigma Green Belt training for Hardy. She wanted to focus on a project that impacted healthcare and how the Naval clinic delivers services.
The project focused on wellness exams for children. Before the project, the Gulfport clinic achieved an average HEDIS score of 57%. After the project, that score skyrocketed to 90%.
Higher HEDIS scores mean better healthcare services are being offered at the clinic, which serves active-duty servicemembers at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport.
The team first analyzed the root causes for the low HEDIS scores, using tools like the Fishbone Diagram. Then, they identified ways to make improvements. One of the biggest involved combining wellness visits with acute care visits.
Dr. Elisabeth Haller, a pediatrician at NGHC Gulfport, told DVIDS that one change was to proactively contact parents and ask them to make wellness visits. Also, if a child was brought in due to illness, the doctor would also perform a wellness exam. Haller noted that many parents “have two or three children, so it is difficult for them to get in for a sick appointment and a well-child visit. We try to combine those in the instances when it is possible.”
This offers a real-world example of how small changes implemented after detailed analysis can lead to big impacts.
Hardy told DVIDS that the project team never even thought about awards and were focusing on improved healthcare for the children, adding that “being surrounded by ranks much higher than I am from all branches of services and being able to represent the clinic and the hospital was an honor.”
Six Sigma Tools Used
The health clinic offered a detailed look at some of the Six Sigma tools they used to achieve success. They included the following, each of which fit within the DMAIC roadmap (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) used in Six Sigma.
Voice of the Customer – This involves collecting information from customers or end users. In other words, the people who use the finished product or service. Understanding their expectations, preferences, needs and requirements can help teams define what is needed and what is wasteful in a process. It is part of the Define phase.
SIPOC – A SIPOC diagram allows teams to look at every aspect of a process through the lens of customer requirements. SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers. Waste is quickly identified by separating what parts of a process help meets customer needs and which do not. It is part of the Measure phase.
Fishbone Diagram – This is one of the cause-effect diagrams used in Six Sigma. In this case, the clinic used the diagram to find “root causes” – the underlying reasons behind the issues that occur in a process. The diagram is used to list causes for issues, then sub-causes, then sub-causes of the sub-causes. This continues until the root of the problem is discovered. It is part of the Analyze phase.
Implementation Plan – Once solutions are found to process challenges through tools such as Kaizen events, an implementation plan plots out how improvements will be put into place. That includes the actions planned, the due dates for those actions and the people responsible for putting them into place. It’s part of the Improve phase.
Control Plan – A control plan sets limits on the variations expected within a process. Using a control chart, teams can identifying the difference between common-cause variation (random variations that can be left alone) and assignable-cause variation (variation caused by flaws in the process that need to be addressed). This is part of the Control phase.
Few college staffs likely have embraced Lean Six Sigma quite like the University of California – Santa Barbara. Not only have employees learned the value of earning a Green Belt certification, they’ve also put it to use in projects across the school’s campus.
That’s a good thing for any university, anywhere. As noted in a news release by Matt Hall, the Chief Information Officer for UC Santa Barbara, applying Lean Six Sigma methodology is important in higher education as schools face “extraordinary pressures to deliver an ever-increasing level of student and research success.”
It’s another example of schools getting involved more with training students and faculty in Lean and Six Sigma, such as the rural school district in Ohio where every graduating high school senior earns a Green Belt. It’s also led to many projects, such as the university students in New York using process improvement techniques at a local hospital.
Why the Staff Chose Six Sigma
In total, 16 members of the UC Santa Barbara staff chose to earn their Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma, learning the tools and techniques that help eliminate variation and improve processes. Earning the certificate involved taking five days of courses as well as supplemental online work. Each UC Santa Barbara faculty member also had to complete a program that involved the use of Lean Six Sigma methodology.
Why earn the Green Belt? Because the University wanted the faculty to speak the same language about process improvement, something the school wants to emphasize in the coming years. Introducing as many people as possible to the principles and methods of Lean Six Sigma accomplishes that goal.
However, the success outstripped their expectations. The Green Belt candidates, eager to put their new skills to work on the required project, ended up making quite a few improvements to the UC Santa Barbara campus.
Bike Impounds at UC Santa Barbara
One of the issues taken on by the Green Belt candidates at UC Santa Barbara involved the impounding of bicycles by the campus police. Students were complaining about the time spent having to retrieve their bikes from the impound.
On the surface, one of the delays seemed to involve paperwork. The community service officers (CSO) who impounded the bikes are students who work as liaisons between the police and students. They often put off the paperwork needed to document the impound until after a person came to get the bike, leading to longer waits.
Further analysis showed that the primary time waster involved the time it took the CSO to locate and bring back a bike from the impound lot. They also found that the printer used for impound paperwork was in another building.
That’s quite a few process problems, including some of the Eight Wastes of Lean, such as unnecessary waiting, over processing, transportation and non-value added processing.
Ultimately, the project team of Green Belts called for moving a printer into the same building, keeping newly impounded bicycles on campus, streamlining the paperwork system and better organizing the impound lots.
They expect to cut wait times by 35 minutes. The goal is to put all the system overhauls into place before summer.
One of the teachers who worked on the project called the possibilities of Lean Six Sigma “pretty eye-opening.”
How important is the philosophy of Lean Six Sigma to teachers at the school? Perhaps that’s best summed up by a quote the news release uses. It’s from the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s “through the Looking Glass”: “You see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Today’s data-driven business culture has given organizations new resources and competitive advantages through the integration of data into everyday operations and strategic business decisions. With this increasing reliance on Big Data and growth in the data, organizations are able to gather, both business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) are crucial for interpreting the information and creating effective, data-based action plans that companies can use for a competitive advantage.
Though they tend to be used interchangeably, business intelligence and business analytics have different applications and different goals. When used together effectively, they can complement each other and maximize efforts to achieve business goals.
True to its name, business intelligence is about using data to make intelligent business decisions by monitoring, collecting and reporting data for interpretation. Since there is so much data out there, BI helps organizations filter through existing relevant data to decipher trends and patterns in the past and present to make better decisions for current operations.
Business analytics is vital to utilizing business intelligence to its full potential by working to interpret data to predict future patterns based on current data. Business analytics is great for companies looking to improve or change their current operations and make better decisions for the future. It can be used to strategize, recognize sales and market opportunities, improve relationships with customers, better indicate potential risks and decrease threats based on the analysis of why things happened in the past and if something will occur again.
Continue reading to learn about career opportunities for business intelligence and business analytics professionals and how combining the two concepts can improve the way an organization reaches current and future business solutions.
Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM), a designer and manufacturer of specialized engineering woven fabrics based in Bally, Pennsylvania, recently announced that after two years of company-wide implementation of Six Sigma, they’ve seen a 30% drop in operational waste.
That number, as reported in Inside Composites, is amazing in itself. It also provides another example of how businesses across many different industries have implemented Six Sigma and achieved success.
One of the noteworthy aspects of Six Sigma implementation at Bally Ribbon Mills is that the company already was considered a leader in process improvement and quality management. But they took the next step, implementing Green and Black Belt training for more employees and creating a culture of continuous improvement across the organization.
The company told Inside Composites that “implementing Six Sigma methodology had a significant impact on manufacturing, design and customer relationships for Bally Ribbon Mills. The company is more able to design and manufacture products exactly to customer specifications, and with far greater confidence in finished products than ever before.”
Six Sigma Executive Buy-In
BRM, which has been in operation since 1923, provides products for medical, safety, automotive, commercial, defense and aerospace applications (NASA is a customer).
Bally also produces medical products for the healthcare industry. The items include biomedical webbing, composites used to make prosthetic devices, implantable ligature tape, materials for dental prosthetics and monofilament materials used in blood filtration and aspirating devices, as well as in bone marrow transplants.
The company places an emphasis “on continuous improvement and defect prevention.” That commitment goes all the way back to adopting MIL-Q-9858 standards for its military products. MIL-Q-9858 is now recognized as the origin of “quality management system standards and regulations over the world,” according to the American Standard for Quality.
That sort of commitment to standards can make all the difference to the quality of a product. So can finding ways to analyze and measure quality, perhaps demonstrated most dramatically by David Lee Roth of the rock band Van Halen in the 1980s.
Today, one of the tools Bally uses to achieve its quality standard goals is Six Sigma. The company has been awarded for its efforts in this area.
Achieving high quality is imperative for a business that works for healthcare companies, the military, defense contractors and the space program. Bally must meet stringent guideline and regulations on the materials they produce.
The executive buy-in at Bally Ribbon Mills offers a notable example for companies interested in training staff in Six Sigma and implementing process improvements. Executive buy-in ranks among the most important keys to success in implementing a strong process improvement culture.
Value of Training Employees in Six Sigma
Part of the “significant impact” of Six Sigma at Bally involved the cost savings to both the company and their customers. It also has led to higher quality products.
Company leaders were sold on Six Sigma after sending one employee through training. The employee used Six Sigma skills on a project that involved just one item and reduced costs by 77%. That got everyone’s attention.
The company then moved into training more employees as Green Belts and Black Belts. They also began having process improvement teams work side-by-side with design and manufacturing teams to create efficient processes from the outset.
Additionally, Bally has focused Six Sigma efforts on areas where there is an elevated risk of failure, a high amount of costs associated with waste and areas with the greatest amount of disruption.
The company has found that employees trained in Six Sigma excel at analysis. Inside Composites reported that company officials said well-trained teams who are knowledgeable in Six Sigma can “use the same data that most manufacturing facilities already collect and still get to a better confidence level, lower material use, less waste, lower lead times and reduced overproduction compared with other QA methodologies.”
That’s high praise and one of the reasons the company has invested so much into Six Sigma.
The Norfolk Navy Shipyard (NNSY) has committed to Lean Six Sigma training in a big way, recently launching a project that will apply the process improvement methodology to processes used in the shipyard with the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier.
Work on the carrier is the first project that is part of the NNSY’s new Lean Six Sigma process. The focus is to optimize a process that fosters teamwork and relationships with the goal of eliminating lost work time.
At a ceremony marking the opening of a new facility that is part of the process, Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Bailey said that “ships and sailors belong at sea,” adding that the Navy welcomes “new efforts to improve efficiencies,” according a news release.
Streamlining Work Processes
In developing the system, NNSY first evaluated data around the current process, a necessary step of implementing Lean Six Sigma, according to the news release. They discovered that work crews were broken into two groups when it came to processes: spiders and striders.
Spiders would determine the materials needed to handle the next work assignment. Striders would then have to go to many locations at the shipyard, looking for those tools and materials. Added together, this resulted in hours of work time wasted and a lot of waiting for NNSY workers. Waiting is one of the eight wastes of Lean.
The team then used what essentially is a Kaizen Event to identify the issue and develop a streamlined process to address the problems. NNSY created a centralized work execution area that included portable tool rooms, a central material envelope for the kitting of materials and a “rip out material laydown area” that is overseen by a pier master who tracks everything removed from the ship.
Rob Bogle, NNSY Lead for Implementation, said in the news release that “this type of execution area is open to support every shift worked during the availability.” He added that with the new plan, workers “don’t have to stop work and go across the shipyard to get a tool or material, carry tools or materials around, or leaving them in a job box somewhere.”
The new process is expected to help NNSY reach its goal of completing every assignment on time or ahead of schedule.
The NNSY project shows the versatility of Lean Six Sigma. It incorporates many of the ideas of Just-In-Time manufacturing and Single Piece Flow. It’s essentially the same approach, in many ways, used by an Oregon plant nursery looking to cut shipping times.
Lean Six Sigma and the Military
This is far from the first Lean Six Sigma project involving the military, which has seen the value of the methodology for years. From Army Depots and defense logistics to a Naval hospital, the principles of Lean Six Sigma are being put into play around the world by the Armed Forces.
It’s also not the only initiative at NNSY. The shipyard encourages its employees to earn a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Those who are interested work with their supervisor to get the permission to apply to the program, which requires taking classes one week out of a month for six months. The program also requires a senior manager to sponsor an employee as they go through the training.
In an interview with Six Sigma Daily, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Brian Kornfeld noted that this sort of commitment to process improvement training is a trend that won’t end anytime soon. Organizations in business, government and the nonprofit sector all are looking for ways to cut waste and become more efficient. Training employees in process improvement drives improvements.
One of those who completed the training at NNSY is Megan Hanni, an engineering technician who told Naval Sea Systems Command that she first thought of karate when she heard about the Black Belt program. Once she learned it was about process improvement, she wanted to enter the program.
She and fellow engineering technician Kelly Carson, who also earned her Black Belt, worked on a project together. It involved removing excess equipment that was hampering productivity at the shipyard. It was a multimillion-dollar project that required approval at high levels.
Carson said the pair got to “see something go from an idea on a piece of paper to a reality. That was a huge win for us. When we saw truckloads of old equipment being removed, it felt like a victory! Being able to see a project be successful is a really good feeling and knowing you are part of something that big is pretty cool.”
That sort of training and application of Lean Six Sigma has been a principle of Lean Six Sigma in the military. As Clara Cuervo, an industrial engineer who also got her Black Belt at NNSY said, “becoming a Black Belt was a very good decision because it has helped me learn a lot about the shipyard and its processes.”
That’s the foundation for creating sustainable, continuous process improvement.
For those outside the world of law, your image of lawyers may revolve around what you see on television and in movies: conferences with clients, grilling a witness in court and making a closing argument.
But those in the profession know there’s an important part of the legal world few people see. This is called legal operations, or legal ops.
A legal ops department handles the business end of the legal world, including the copious amounts of paperwork and complex billing the industry produces. Canadian Lawyer magazine defines a legal ops department as needing people who have skills in:
Larger organizations have had legal ops departments for years. It’s now spreading to other companies as the interest grows in having legal departments perform more like a business unit, including generating performance metrics.
Legal ops are changing. For example, Canadian Lawyer reported that SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based company with 75 lawyers across five continents, started its legal ops team with a one member, attorney Jean-Francois Denis. But now they’ve hired a person to help him from outside the legal world.
Denis remains the director, but the trend is toward hiring people with business and process improvement skills rather than legal skills. Denis told Canadian Lawyer, “You need to speak the language of your C-suite…In terms of an increasing sophistication of departments coming up with sound, better reporting, it’s a must.”
Sun Life and Lean Six Sigma
In another example, Sun Life in Canada hired Mimi Bowen as the legal ops director. Bowen is not a lawyer. Rather, she’s a Lean Six Sigma expert who was among the first Black Belts to work at Ford Motor Company and Maple Leaf Foods. She is considered an expert in operational excellence.
Ken Savage, the vice president for corporate legal and governance at Sun Life, told Canadian Lawyer, “We thought that it would be best to have legal operations headed up by someone with Lean Six Sigma skill sets.”
Bowen not only has learned how lawyers work, but also has built a culture of acceptance of Lean Six Sigma principles. She also has brought the concepts of Agile into the company’s new offices in downtown Toronto.
A Growing Area for Lean Six Sigma
These two examples from Canada are just the latest showcasing the use of Lean Six Sigma in the legal world.
None of this comes as a surprise to Catherine Alman MacDonagh, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Law Firms.” Her approach tries to answer two primary questions:
What problems are the most important to solve?
How will you know when you have solved them?
Getting there involves many elements of Lean and Six Sigma, including DMAIC. She believes law firms and legal departments with large companies should try learning Lean, Six Sigma and project management all at once. However, if they must choose one place to start, she suggests project management.
“After that, the firm can train project managers and others using optimized processes,” she writes in her book. She notes that every process generates waste, and the ones in legal are no exception.
The adoption of Lean and Six Sigma practices has made the legal world more efficient. It’s also offered those who become experts in Lean and Six Sigma another area for them to use their talents.
A company committed to Lean Six Sigma training for its employees won the 2019 Dubai Quality Award, an honor given to companies that demonstrate excellence in leadership, customer service and other key business areas.
The award went to Dubai-based Transguard Group, which provides companies cash, security, manpower and integrated facilities services. This is the third major business award for Transguard in 2019. The company’s leaders attribute the success to the establishment of a Centre for Excellence, a learning and innovation center that focuses on training Transguard’s 65,000-plus employees – including training in Lean Six Sigma.
Transguard Group Managing Director Greg Ward told MEP Middle East, “At Transguard, continuously improving all aspects of our business is at the forefront of our strategy, and our people are the foundation of our success.”
Centre for Excellence and Lean Six Sigma
The Dubai Quality Award is given by the Dubai Department of Economic Development to recognize business excellence. It is based on the Excellence Model from the European Foundation for Quality Management. Businesses are evaluated in many different categories, including leadership, strategy, people, partnerships and resources, processes, products and services, customer results, people results, society results and business results.
Those familiar with Lean Six Sigma may see where the methodology’s tools and techniques can play a major role in these categories.
Transguard has made Lean Six Sigma training a vital component of training offered through its Centre for Excellence. In an interview about the Centre for Excellence, Ward said that continuous training has been important for him since entering the Ford Training Centre in Dagenham, United Kingdom, when he was just 16 years old.
“Even though I didn’t know it, we were being trained all the time,” Ward said. “That was the ethos at Ford, whether it’s Lean Six Sigma, accountancy skills, tradesman skills or project management skills, there is continuous training and a commitment to lifelong learning for everyone.”
The lessons learned there drove him to continue that philosophy at Transguard.
Applying Lean Six Sigma
Transguard offers a good example of a company committed not to just training its employees in Lean Six Sigma but preparing them to apply the methodology in real-life situations.
Transguard’s training and development program involves Lean Six Sigma training for every worker at the company’s headquarters in Dubai, as well as training for its site-based staff through the Centre for Excellence. The training focuses on using real-world scenarios to teach employees how to put process improvement theory into practice.
The facility has carried out 800,000 hours of training since 2017.
Transguard specifically says the goal of its training is that employees apply it in their daily work processes. Such a commitment is key to making process improvements sustainable, which is one of the most important aspects of Lean Six Sigma.
The earlier awards in 2019 won by Transguard are the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MRM) Business Award and the MRM Business Innovation Award. Both recognized how Transguard’s attention to improving employee’s daily processes have paid off with big rewards.
Lean Six Sigma has shown time and again that it can improve anything that involves a process. And when it comes to processes, nothing may have more intricately woven ones (in your personal life, anyway) than travel plans.
There’s packing. Booking. Transportation there and during your stay. Accommodations. Day trips. Sightseeing. Dinner reservations. Shopping. Hikes. Depending on how active you are, that list can continue for several more paragraphs.
Lean Six Sigma offers answers. To demonstrate the versatility of this process improvement methodology, we’ve decided to apply Lean Six Sigma ideas to traveling planning.
Unlike a process that’s already in place at a business, you can’t record data from your ongoing travel plan and trip and then go back in time and do it better next week. Most people get one shot a year at taking a big trip.
So, until we’re all multi-millionaires, it’s important to plan based on information and guesswork. You’ll need to walk through every phase of your trip and improve it before you do it. That seems impossible, but it’s not. Use the following tools.
To put things in perspective, let’s say you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World.
You might start with a Kaizen event, in which case you’ll get everyone involved to sit down together and walk through the process of the trip.
What kind of place do they expect to stay?
What are the main attractions they want to visit?
Are there day trips or side excursions some of the group want to make?
Who wants to eat at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot (who doesn’t want to eat at Via Napoli?)?
Kaizen events are designed to make a lot of progress quickly on a project, so make sure to get everyone gathered together with no distractions. Ask everyone to do a little research before coming to the meeting. They don’t need to know every detail of where they want to go, but they should know the major sites and experiences they expect from the trip.
Value Stream Mapping
Now, you’ve got the major points of your “process.” A value stream map allows you then to put everything involved in a process down in visual form, allowing you to see areas of waste and unneeded effort.
How can this apply to a trip? Let’s use just one process in the trip – the drive to the airport.
Map out every step along the process, from loading the bags into the car, driving to the airport, finding parking, transporting yourself from the parking garage to the terminal, then getting through check-in and security and finally reaching the gate.
Map it out and do the research to answer questions such as:
What’s the best route to the airport?
What’s the best alternative route to the airport?
What can I and can’t I get through security?
Where is the best/least expensive long-term parking option at the airport?
If I use a transportation company, what time do I need to have them pick us up?
And so on. Having all these questions answered can help make the process run much smoother. Value stream mapping gets you there.
It’s worth applying to every process within the trip. It helps you ask the questions you need answered before you find yourself at Disney World, unsure of which monorail you need to catch to get to the park in time for fireworks.
It also leads you to seek alternatives for each phase. For example, staying at a hotel off the Disney World property is likely going to be cheaper, but what are the transportation costs to and from the parks? Does it make better sense to stay on the property and use the elaborate Disney World transportation system, including the monorail? Map it out and make a decision that balances convenience with cost.
Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing involves creating products in conjunction with the actual demand – in other words, not getting caught short with too few products or making more products than customers need and having to spend money to store them.
Those who use Lean Six Sigma put JIT into play because they know it cuts waste and saves costs. When packing for your trip, you’re likely looking to save space. Walk yourself through every phase of the trip and determine what you will need in terms of pants, shirts, jackets, flip flops, etc. Does it make sense to buy cheaper items once you arrive to your destination rather than take up room packing them (flip flops, for example)?
You only want the items you will need to make your trip enjoyable. Use the philosophy behind JIT to “produce” only the items you will need in your suitcase.
These are just a few examples of how Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques can make you look at trip planning more efficiently. It might seem like more work added onto what is supposed to be a fun time. But the truth is, the more process improvement planning you put into the front end of a trip, the more you can enjoy the trip itself.
A new initiative by Illinois state officials proves once again that the principles of Lean Six Sigma are useful in many different organizations – including law enforcement.
In this case, state officials hope to use the methodology in tandem with innovative technology and other initiatives to elevate Illinois from its current ranking as having the most unsolved murder cases. The state faces a backlog of 21,000 forensics tests, according to one news report.
In a news release, Gov. JB Pritzker and acting State Police Director Brendan Kelly announced that Lean Six Sigma will play a large role in improving operations at Illinois state police labs, the largest lab system in the country. The six labs employ about 500 forensic workers who handle more than 70,000 forensic assignments every year.
Kelly said that without the labs, “justice would not happen in many cases.” Pritzker, who took office in January 2019, made improving the efficiency of the labs and cutting down on the backlog of cases a priority during his campaign.
In the release, Kelly said the state will focus on improving “accountability, transparency, evidence-based processes, manpower and technology to reduce turnaround time for consumers of forensic services.”
The State Backlog
The backlog for forensic tests in Illinois is enormous. In February 2019, the Peoria-based ABC TV affiliate reported 21,000 tests remained unfinished. Of those, 5,000 involved DNA evidence from cases dating back for years.
It’s led to unsolved cases, many of them involving murder. WGN 9 in Chicago reported at the end of 2018 that 752 murder cases in Chicago alone had gone unsolved because the DNA tests in the cases had not yet been performed.
That’s contributed to Illinois being ranked last among all U.S. states in solving murders, according to WGN.
How Illinois Will Use Lean Six Sigma
In the news release, state officials said they plan to contract with a service that specializes in implementing Lean Six Sigma methodology in a variety of settings, including forensics labs. They will work specifically to implement “effective and efficient measures” to cut down on the backlog in the laboratory system.
Lean Six Sigma strategies will no doubt play a role in accomplishing many of the goals laid out by the state. They include:
Accountability – Forensic services leaders will be required to hold regular meetings to monitor turnaround time on lab assignments using more accurate data that will come from a new information management system being put into place.
Cutting unnecessary steps – For example, labs now contact prosecutors or law enforcement agencies for permission to test DNA if the test is going to consume the entire sample, an unnecessary, time-delaying request in most cases. Cutting such unnecessary actions is a hallmark of Lean.
Technology – In addition to the new information management system, the state also is investing in other DNA-test related technologies to speed up the process and streamline the operation.
In putting Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques to use in cutting waste, Illinois is the latest in a long (and growing) line of government agencies that have turned to the methodology to cut waste and become more efficient in delivering services to taxpayers.
In Tulsa, Okla., city officials used Lean Six Sigma to cut the number of cases in their forensic lab backlog in half. They did so by uncovering unnecessary steps in the process.
The District 5 Idaho State Police used principles of Lean Six Sigma when designing the forensics lab at the district’s new $6 million headquarters. The design maximizes efficiency and reduced unnecessary extra steps, including putting people working together close to one another.
Illinois itself also has used Lean Six Sigma. The state’s Department of Public Health has used Kaizen Events and Plan-Do-Study-Act as part of its commitment to continuous process improvement.
These successes show that Lean Six Sigma has its uses in law enforcement and science labs – just as it does in manufacturing, software engineering and any other profession that involves processes.
Technology and digital fluency are more important than ever for project managers. That’s one takeaway from the 2019 Pulse of the Profession® report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), which focuses on the integration of technology into project management.
The annual report from PMI calls skills related to technology the Project Management Technology Quotient (PMTQ). The report refers to PMTQ as the “must-have, make-or-break skill set” for anyone in project management who has been tasked with implementing change in a world “constantly remodeled by tech.”
To underscore the importance of PMTQ, it’s in the title: “The Future of Work – Leading the Way with PMTQ.”
PMI defines PMTQ as the ability to “adapt, manage and integrate technology” into the job of project management.
It’s not a new term. But according to PMI, it has taken on a new urgency as organizations strive to keep pace with technology changes in a way that is sustainable. The report identifies three characteristics that indicate a high PMTQ. They are:
Curiosity– Always looking for what’s next, including innovative ideas, new perspectives and new technologies.
Inclusive leadership– Getting the best from team members no matter their age, position within the company, skill set or location. This also includes the inclusion of technology.
A “future proof” pool of talent – Recruiting and retaining professionals with digital skills, adaptability and the desire to stay on top of trends.
The report also makes a case for PMTQ based around the idea that the very nature of work is changing – and that performance is not, in many cases, keeping up.
The Case for PMTQ
The PMI writers open the report with a discouraging statistic: the percentage of money wasted by companies in project management due to “poor performance” has remained unchanged over the past five years at about 12%.
According to the report, “It’s time to add a new ingredient to that old formula, especially given the fundamental shift in how work is getting done.” That ingredient is technology. As noted by the report, few jobs in the future will revolve around a “bulleted list of static responsibilities.”
Rather, people will manage a portfolio of projects, and those projects will be tied to technology.
A $2 Trillion Investment
Companies around the world recognize the need to invest in new technologies. They are doing so at a level expected to reach $1.97 trillion annually, according to numbers from IT market intelligence firm International Data Corp quoted by PMI.
It’s not always money well spent. The report notes that numbers from PMI and Forbes Insights’ The C-Suite Outlook indicate that while 80% of organizations have experienced significant changes because of technology, only about 25% of initiatives have resulted in tangible benefits.
Clearly, that’s where process improvement professionals can make a substantial difference. The report suggests areas where shifts in approach can yield significant results.
Put technology first – In every case, search for digital solutions to challenges
Train people at all levels – One of the roadblocks in adapting technology is the lack of “digital fluency” across an organization – people cannot get creative with technology if they don’t know how it works
Craft new career paths – Younger workers especially understand that their current job might not even exist in 10 years. Project managers understand their jobs must involve project management skills, leadership training and technology skills
The triangle of skills– The report recommends a combination of skills in tech, business and leadership and emotional intelligence skills for project leaders. All are needed for success in project management
There are many examples of how digital fluency can aid project managers. For example, in PMI’s PMO of the Future report, Capgemini reported that many project managers see an immediate benefit to using technology to bridge the financial gap between strategy and delivery.
That report said putting digital acumen to work has helped lead to 66% of those surveyed at high-performing organizations saying they fully or mostly understand the potential value a project management office has in business strategy.
Attaining knowledge and earning certification in process improvement methodologies can help project managers on the journey to acquiring the skills they need to maximize their skills in this challenging, rewarding field.
Pulse of the Profession is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.