• What is a Lean Six Sigma Project Charter?

    April 14th, 2022 | by

    Every business improvement project comes from somewhere. Often, organisational leaders identify a problem that is having an adverse effect on customers. Although well-intentioned, the next step is that managers immediately try to solve the problem. This can be successful in the short-term. However, in many cases, the same problems reoccur because the systemic issue goes unaddressed. To avoid this, Lean Six Sigma provides frameworks that give improvement teams adequate tools to plan their projects. The project charter is one of the most common tools. In this article we will cover Lean Six Sigma project charters in detail and see how they help improvement teams deliver sustainable results.

    What is a Project Charter?

    A Project Charter is a simple document that lays out the Lean Six Sigma project along with its goals and scope. The document is intended to support project proposals and provide a high-level framework for process improvement professionals to plan their work.

    Project planning and development is a key component of Lean Six Sigma. Organisations commonly make the mistake of failing to plan their work and its long-term effects. While this does not prevent the business from achieving some success in their process improvement, the result is often that businesses have to revisit the same problems over and over. Introducing project charters allows improvement teams to make a fundamental plan that can be presented to managers and used to guide their efforts.

    The 6 Components of a Project Charter

    Project charters are intended to be high-level overviews of the improvement project. In most cases the documents are short, making them easy to read and excellent tools for improvement teams that want to present their projects to others.

    A project charter details 6 components:

    1. Business Case. The primary purpose of developing a project charter is to improve the organisation’s processes. The business case section is devoted to describing why the project benefits the company and why it should receive management support.
    2. Identify the Problem. Problem statements are a brief description of the issue. A problem statement should be simple but specific, and avoid assigning blame or recommending solutions to the issue. If the solution to an issue is simple enough to be understood at this point, a Lean Six Sigma project is likely unnecessary.
    3. Goal Statement. Your goal describes the ultimate outcome of the project. Like problem statements, goal statements should be brief but specific. A good goal follows the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound).
    4. Scope of the Work. The scope describes the limits of the work and what the project includes and excludes. For example, the scope could specify which departments, products or branches of the business will be included in the project.
    5. Project Timeline. To keep the work on track, the project timeline defines important milestones. These typically follow the central DMAIC principles (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control), with milestones being placed at the end of each phase.
    6. Team Structure. Finally, a project charter describes the team members that are required to complete the project. This section will commonly name key stakeholders, team members, the project sponsor and any system experts who will be consulted.

    Lean Six Sigma Project Charters as Living Documents

    Improvement teams often refer to their project charters as living documents. The phrase “living document” signifies that the details of the charter are not set in stone. While the charter is an excellent way to plan and disseminate an overview of the project, it remains flexible as the work progresses. As improvement teams make their way through each of the DMAIC stages, they will uncover new information that alters the way the project is handled. As a living document, project charters can adapt to these changes, allowing the team to continue their work unabated.

    Are You Planning an Improvement Project? Contact Thornley Group Today!

    Lean and Six Sigma practices offer valuable tools for businesses from every industry. Identifying and reducing organisational waste can have a marked effect on the quality of products, customer satisfaction and a business’ bottom line. If you have identified problems within your organisation, get in touch with Thornley Group for Lean Six Sigma training. Our courses can be tailored to suit all members of your business, and we train process improvement teams from the ground up. Whether you are interested in our corporate training solutions or simply want to upskill, speak to one of our consultants about our training programs today!

  • How Lean Six Sigma Principles Can Improve Hospital Performance

    March 28th, 2022 | by

    Lean and Six Sigma are systems that were originally developed to serve the manufacturing industry. While large-scale manufacturers have seen the benefits of Lean Six Sigma for decades, the discipline also has a home in many other industries, including healthcare. Modern hospitals are large machines, with thousands of complex processes servicing hundreds of employees and cities full of patients. Therefore, it is little wonder that Lean Six Sigma can offer major process improvements to the industry. Defining goals, identifying areas for improvement and implementing positive changes can have a significant impact on patients and a few major benefits to hospitals.

    Reduced Wait Times

    Australia’s public health system is a fantastic resource for people all over the country. But, like many public health systems, it often suffers from long wait times for non-critical procedures. Measuring how long patients spend waiting is a key metric for many hospitals. Wait times have a direct effect on the standard of patient care, with long waits often causing patients who need care to leave prematurely or seek help elsewhere.

    While Lean and Six Sigma have their roots in the manufacturing industry, the methodologies can be broadly applied to hospitals. The DMAIC principles taught as part of Lean Six Sigma training are indispensable for defining goals and identifying places where hospitals are experiencing delays. Having tools to systematically assess the way departments are functioning is key to developing process improvement solutions that reduce wait times.

    Improved Quality of Patient Care

    Healthcare is an industry dedicated to helping people, and many hospitals already measure the quality of care they are providing to patients. Ensuring patients have positive experiences, quick diagnoses and effective treatment are key factors in improving community health. According to the World Health Organisation, high-quality patient care is:

    • Timely. Reducing wait times for consultations and procedures.
    • Equitable. High-quality healthcare for all.
    • Integrated. Providing healthcare that makes use of a full range of health services.
    • Efficient. Maximising the care provided with the available resources.

    Lean Six Sigma promotes significant improvements that can assist hospitals to achieve these four goals. Additionally, Lean Six Sigma will ultimately reduce operational costs and inventories, translating into further savings and efficiencies for the hospital.

    Reduce Medication Errors and Liability Issues

    Across Australia, there is an estimated 230,000 medication errors each year. The problem is no less prevalent in hospitals where medication is routinely dispensed and administered to hundreds or thousands of patients at a time. While the pharmacy industry has developed strict controls of its own, medication errors are still a reality. While some mistakes are minor, in many cases they risk doing serious injury to patients through overdosing, harmful drug interactions and potentially deadly side effects. This is not only of concern to patients, it can lead to major liability claims and expenses for a hospital. Employing Lean Six Sigma in a hospital’s diagnosis and pharmacy processes can identify the sources of medication errors and implement further controls to reduce the issue and its associated expenses.

    Increased Productivity in Laboratories

    Both public and private hospitals rely on the support of their various laboratory departments. In most cases, laboratories run around the clock, with staff always being on-hand to run tests and assist with important diagnoses. Pathologists perform a wide range of tests, including general chemistry, haematology, microbiology, immunology, surgical pathology, cytology and more. These tests range from simple, machine-conducted studies to complex assessments by highly trained clinicians. Introducing a thorough understanding of Lean Six Sigma into laboratory environments can minimise wasted time, reduce damaged samples and improve the turnaround on critical testing. By identifying bottlenecks, developing process improvements and building robust quality control systems, Lean Six Sigma can improve productivity and the reliability of hospital laboratory results.

    Contact Thornley Group for Lean Six Sigma Training Tailored to Your Hospital

    With reduced inventory, improved processes and fewer errors, patients and hospitals can both reap the benefits of Lean Six Sigma training. Thornley Group provides Lean Six Sigma courses for all levels of healthcare professionals, from nurses and laboratory technicians through to boards and governing bodies. Our programs are designed to assist organisations of all shapes and sizes. We can also tailor the content to suit your particular hospital to give your staff an even greater understanding of their role in process improvement. Speak to us today about our Lean Six Sigma training programs and consultation services.

  • How Lean Six Sigma Principles Can Improve the Manufacturing Industry

    March 22nd, 2022 | by

    In the mid 20th century, executives from Toyota visited a Ford manufacturing plant and were impressed by the efficiency of Ford’s famous production lines. Their visit was productive, with Toyota taking inspiration and introducing the first version of the Lean principles we know today. At the same time that Lean began to spread, Motorola was also working on their Six Sigma program which was designed to improve manufacturing quality.

    Even now, Lean and Six Sigma represent two of the most important tools the manufacturing sector has ever seen. Offering significant savings and improvements to both product quality and customer satisfaction, Lean Six Sigma is now must-have training for all manufacturers. Lean Six Sigma teams help to cut expenses and improve products, leading to several major benefits for the manufacturing industry.

    Greater Cost Efficiency

    The greatest benefit and driving factor behind Lean and Six Sigma principles are the benefits they offer to the bottom line. Reducing organisational waste and improving production methods ultimately lead to better products and greater customer satisfaction while decreasing expenses. A survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit showed that 90% of manufacturing executives reported reduced costs as a result of their Lean Six Sigma programs. When combined, these programs produce a noticeable boost to profits.

    For executives though, it is important not to focus too heavily on the cost savings. Putting too much emphasis on reducing expenses can often lead to unsustainable improvements. For example, as processes become more efficient, laying off staff may be a good way to save money, but the impact on employee morale could lead to a net loss for the company. Lean Six Sigma practitioners should always remain mindful of the long-term effects when implementing business improvements.

    Inventory Reduction

    Carrying inventory is a major expense for manufacturers. Storing sufficient materials and products to service forecasts takes up valuable warehouse space and capital. Lean principles teach businesses to drive production based on real customer orders, rather than predictions. That means less warehouse space needs to be set aside for products. Especially in cases where forecasts exceed the real-world demand, reducing inventory can free up significant resources for manufacturers. Once inventory is reduced, manufacturers can pivot their model and produce smaller batches. Not only does this lead to improvements in lead times, but it also aids with quality control and reduces the losses associated with damage while in storage.

    Improve Product Quality

    Where Lean teaches businesses to reduce their expenses, Six Sigma focuses on improving product quality by reducing manufacturing flaws. By analysing, improving and measuring manufacturing processes, Six Sigma practitioners can identify issues and implement plans that improve product consistency. This goes on to improve customer satisfaction, giving businesses the chance to increase their profits while also reducing expenses.

    Shorter Production Times

    Eliminating manufacturing waste also has the effect of reducing production times. This is central to Lean manufacturing. Because inventory is kept to a minimum, short production times are vital, but they allow manufacturers to begin production and deliver orders in far shorter timeframes. The result is greater cost efficiency and an improvement in customer satisfaction.

    Flexibility to Respond to Changing Markets

    Reduced overheads, shorter production times and greater profitability all lead to improvements in manufacturing flexibility. All markets shift, and manufacturers need to respond to those changes in real-time. Lean and Six Sigma principles work together to put businesses in a position where they can change what they are doing, take on new customers and respond immediately to changing demands. Rather than being left holding large amounts of unwanted inventory, a Lean manufacturer can be agile and deliver the results their customers want.

    Improve Manufacturing Processes With Lean Six Sigma Training From Thornley Group!

    Originally born in the manufacturing industry, the tools and teachings offered by Lean and Six Sigma are still relevant today. For businesses that want to streamline their processes, reduce expenses and improve product quality, Lean and Six Sigma go hand in hand. Thornley Group offers a variety of training programs designed to equip organisations with the tools they need to realise business improvements. Our courses are suitable for every level of your company, from the workshop to the boardroom, and we can tailor our content to suit your business. Speak to us today about our training and consulting services and how your team can become Lean Six Sigma certified.

  • How To Put Lean Six Sigma On Your Resume

    February 7th, 2022 | by

    Lean Six Sigma offers some of the world’s most popular process improvement tools. All over the globe, businesses use Lean and Six Sigma training to eliminate waste and stamp out inefficiencies before they turn into major expenses. That means it is also a process that is widely recognised by businesses in almost every country and industry, so having Lean Six Sigma experience on your resume is a good idea for every process improvement professional. To help you update your CV and take the next step in your career, we want to cover the best ways to put Lean Six Sigma on your resume.

    Lay Out Your Lean Six Sigma Qualifications

    The simplest place to begin when writing your resume is to include your exact Lean Six Sigma qualifications. Lean Six Sigma is a widely recognised practise that is valued by managers and directors in a wide range of industries, and obtaining qualifications through a recognised training organisation is the best place to begin. Establish whether you are a Yellow Belt, Green Belt or Black Belt, and include the certifier’s details and the date you undertook training. Where relevant, you can also include details about whether the qualification is part of your organisation’s training or whether it was an investment of your personal time.

    Include Relevant Process Improvement Roles

    Large businesses, especially in the supply and manufacturing industries, often have dedicated process improvement teams. With large processes come opportunities for inefficiencies and impressive improvements, so any role where you took part in dedicated Lean Six Sigma teams will look fantastic on your resume. Similarly, if your organisation does not have dedicated Lean Six Sigma roles, unofficial roles can still be listed on your resume. If you held one job title officially but were involved in process improvement as additional work, that still counts towards your relevant industry experience. In both cases, you should be specific about your role and the responsibilities that came along with it.

    Discuss Your Lean Six Sigma Projects

    Perhaps the best demonstration of your Lean Six Sigma qualifications, any projects you have worked on or led are an important inclusion on your resume. Headhunters, directors and hiring managers often look for simple ways to decide whether a new employee can add value to their team. Having concrete experience and hard numbers to back up your performance in previous roles is easy proof of your value. Remember too that your resume should always offer the brief details of projects – that means you have room to expand the resume entry and explain:

    • The problem the business was facing, including any statistics about organisational waste or inefficiencies you were attempting to improve.
    • The solution that was developed by the process improvement team.
    • How it was implemented and any challenges you may have overcome.
    • The results of your improvements and how you arrived at those particular measurement metrics.

    Provide Relevant References

    It is often the case that landing a new job involves a large element of networking. The people you know and the people who can vouch for your capabilities are one of your biggest assets. While seeking references or reference letters from your employers, managers and directors, consider obtaining a reference from previous process improvement projects. A team leader or company director who oversaw the projects you worked on had a front-row seat to your training and capabilities and will be able to provide a quality reference to any future employers.

    Looking to Boost Your Resume with Lean Six Sigma? Contact Thornley Group Today!

    Lean Six Sigma principles are not limited to process improvement professionals. While the systems we teach were originally intended for those uses, they now have much farther reaching purchases in roles from every industry. Adding Lean Six Sigma experience to your resume is a fantastic opportunity to stand out from other applicants and make a name for yourself among fellow professionals. If you are ready to undertake your next Lean Six Sigma certification, then Thornley Group would love to hear from you. Contact Thornley Group today for more details about our courses and how you can get involved.

  • How To Implement Lean Six Sigma

    February 7th, 2022 | by

    Lean and Six Sigma principles have been applied to businesses from every industry, reducing inefficiencies and improving the way their processes operate. Originally developed by the large-scale manufacturing sector, Lean Six Sigma has now found success in a range of industries, improving processes and reducing organisational waste. No matter the industry your business is in, Lean Six Sigma is a fantastic way of improving customer satisfaction and outcomes.

    For some organisations, it can prove a challenge to successfully implement process improvement initiatives. To ensure the best chance of making lasting change, it is important to make sure your business is ready to invest its effort.

    Be Sure You Need Lean Six Sigma

    Before you do anything else, you need to ask whether there is a strong basis for applying Lean Six Sigma in your organisation. Process improvement is an investment. The ultimate goal is to reduce waste and excess, but it takes time and resources to identify problems and implement solutions that will ultimately improve the business.

    Investing in Lean Six Sigma may be a good idea for companies that see common problems or who regularly receive negative feedback from customers, employees and other stakeholders. Otherwise, decision-makers and team leaders may be able to provide insight on strategic-level problems that are overdue for improvement. Wherever the feedback comes from, be sure that Lean Six Sigma has a place in your business and can offer real value to your bottom line.

    Make Lean Six Sigma a Core Part of Your Business

    Lean and Six Sigma principles are a long term strategy and not a short term fix. Implementing process improvement takes consistent effort from everyone in the organisation, not just your Lean Six Sigma champions. Incorporating Lean Six Sigma into your core goals and strategies helps all employees keep an eye on organisational changes. Encouraging your employees to apply the philosophies into their day-to-day work is the best way of ensuring your business succeeds at implementing Lean Six Sigma and that everyone understands project goals.

    Support Process Improvement from the Top

    Process improvement comes from the top of an organisation. Teams that are involved in applying Lean Six Sigma need the ability to make real and lasting changes to the business.

    While your process improvement team does not necessarily need to include upper management or senior executives, the team does require full support from those parts of the business. Supporting the process from the top may also include involving senior management and executives in Lean Six Sigma training, even where they are not directly involved in projects. Offering high-level managers a better understanding of the principles and tools involved will often help them make more informed decisions.

    Train Lean Six Sigma Champions First

    Implementing organisational changes is much simpler when all employees are behind the shift. Making process improvement an organisational goal is a great way of involving everyone in the company, but it is likely impractical to train every employee at the same time. To begin making a change, train Lean Six Sigma champions before anyone else. Selecting team leaders, managers and organisational decision-makers for training puts Lean Six Sigma in the hands of people who have the ability to make real, visible improvements. Find those who are most interested in leading the change and make them your Lean Six Sigma champions. Champions can effect change and demonstrate the value of the tools and processes involved in Lean and Six Sigma among their internal networks.

    Ready to Implement Lean Six Sigma? Contact Thornley Group Today!

    When your company is ready to implement Lean Six Sigma, Thornley Group is here to help. Our range of Lean and Six Sigma training programs are designed to train and upskill process improvement professionals and provide the optimisation your business needs to thrive. Contact our team today for more information or to book your next certification.

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