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What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is essentially the combination of the Six Sigma methodology with Lean manufacturing principles. While Six Sigma focuses on quality improvement through analysis of processes, Lean Six Sigma does the same while insisting on reducing waste and increasing speed.
Lean Six Sigma defines certain types of waste in an enterprise: overproduction, inventory, over-processing, idle time, transportation, defects, unutilized intellect, motion of resources, and rework and scrap. All these activities are considered wasteful since they do not add value to the product, and therefore the customer is unconcerned as to whether or not they are carried out.
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Lean Six Sigma is a methodology; therefore it's difficult to automate. There are no software applications that can be run in an enterprise environment and expected to detect the unwieldy processes in the system.
However, that being said, there are a number of automated tools that help significantly in the implementation and management of Six Sigma. They can be used to perform functions like performance measurement, analysis, project collaboration, and program management. These tools can be used, for example, to chart collected data into statistical models for easy interpretation.
There are various kinds of tools for Lean Six Sigma, and the most common include:
- Analysis of Variance
- Cause-and-Effect Matrix
- Check Sheets
- Control Charts
- Failure Modes and Effects Analysis
- Fishbone diagrams
- Pareto Chart
- Quality Function Deployment
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Lean Six Sigma Software
Many of the Six Sigma software tools can be used during the implementation of Lean Six Sigma as well. The following list details a few of those tools:
- Synthis Process Modeler – This is a great tool for creating flowcharts that map the business processes accurately. Having the processes in a visual format allows for greater analysis and redesign. Possibly the biggest benefit of this tool is the ability to integrate the processes cohesively, and view how each one impacts the other.
- Synthis Process Server – Essentially the Synthis Process Server is a document manager. It is loaded onto an enterprise network, where it monitors the flow of documents. It also enables multi-user creation and modification of documents, and additionally generates an audit trail specifying all changes made to each document.
- SigmaXL – This tool is useful because it works in tandem with Microsoft Excel. Built in the form of an extension, it provides various graphical and statistical analytical diagrams, like Pareto charts, scatterplots, and histograms, among others. The tool also incorporates regression techniques, considering various factors.
- Lean Six Sigma Tool Set – This software set includes a number of tools especially designed to assist during the phases of Six Sigma implementation – the DMAIC cycle. There are various templates and worksheets that can be applied to the system in review, thereby allowing a greater control of the process, through analysis and continuous improvement.
- QIT Production Quality Management Suite – The QIT Production Quality Management Suite is actually a collection of integrated tools to measure performance after the implementation of the Six Sigma methodology. The suite contains QIT Production Quality Management System, QIT Corrective Action Management System, QIT Sigma Calculator, and eDocument Control Program.