lean six sigma process improvementLean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology adopted by many manufacturing organizations to improve their bottom line and customer experience. While Lean Six Sigma has more than proven its worth as a management technique to achieve maximum efficiency, it has many applications beyond manufacturing.

The program can help streamline everything from city government processes to managing health care services. Here’s a look at how:

City Government Applications

Government entities are notorious for delays in approving things like permits, which can affect city coffers. It can be up to six months from the time an application is filed to the time the permit is granted. Using Lean Six Sigma to evaluate the permit application process can help identify inefficiencies.

Take the City of Denver, for example, which used the rigorous analysis provided by Lean Six Sigma to train its staff to become more responsive and timely in helping businesses and residents. Our analysis looked at how much time city staffers actually spent working on a permit, and found it could be as few as 40 hours. Shrinking that review period from months to weeks, or even days is what Lean Six Sigma is all about.

By identifying the touch points where people are actually working on the permit while minimizing the wasted weeks of inactivity, it creates a value stream that makes the process work much more efficiently — and faster.

It leads to a better-run city and an increase in revenues. The quicker a city gets projects up and running, the quicker it will see revenue. It’s also a competitive edge. If Fort Worth, for example, is notorious for being slow to approve permits and Dallas is quicker, a developer may opt to build in Dallas.

Health Care Delivery

When it comes to hospitals, laboratories and other components of our health care system, Lean Six Sigma can prescribe a far better approach the delivery of services.

First, it can reduce the response time of doctors and other medical professionals when a patient arrives in the emergency room.

When it comes to lab work, Lean Six Sigma can help establish priorities. The process allows lab technicians to determine which tests need to be completed quickly to provide a fast diagnosis for a sick patient versus routine tests that can wait longer.

Data collection through the Lean Six Sigma program can help hospitals identify trouble spots to mitigate accidents. It can even be applied to organizing the layout of equipment in a room to maximize efficiency and reduce the required space. For example, we use cut-out dimensions of hospital equipment to determine what layout works best.

Lean Six Sigma Proves Value Quickly

The program works in just about any industry, and practitioners can prove its value with a hands-on demonstration in a short amount of time. I recently visited a client site where a previous consultant had failed to show any substantial results over a significant period of time. After just six weeks, they saw what happens when Lean Six Sigma was applied, and they immediately changed directions. Results like this make adopting Lean Six Sigma strategies a no-brainer for many businesses.

Moving forward, Lean Six Sigma should be an attractive analytical approach to companies and organizations seeking a master plan for their current operations and a strategic plan looking to their future. The master planning enabled by the process helps organizations develop the most efficient way to operate.

Lean Six Sigma also allows a company to identify where it wants to be over the next five or 10 years and provides a way to measure its progress towards that vision. The process can help determine whether the company is properly aligned as an organization to pursue its vision. It gets people moving in the same direction, and everyone gets on board with that.

Have you seen Lean Six Sigma applied outside of a manufacturing setting? If so, what kind of results did you see? Feel free to comment in the box below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to learn more about how Lean Six Sigma might work for your organization, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

Michael Glavin is a Lean Six Sigma practitioner at Burns & McDonnell who specializes in master planning, lean manufacturing and optimization for customer demand. He has spent more than 25 years working with commercial and defense companies driving continuous improvements throughout their organizations. Want to learn more about what Lean Six Sigma can do for your organization? Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.