Although Lean and Six Sigma has its roots and success in manufacturing, many service organizations are trying their hand at the process improvement methodology. As we speak with clients in various industries, it is obvious that this will not be a journey easily navigated.

The application of Lean or Six Sigma in service organizations mean different things to different people depending on where you are in the value chain of each organization as well as the size and type of service organization. Here are some key questions that will need to be addressed as various groups try to implement Lean or Six Sigma.

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
    • Are you trying to minimize costs?
    • Are you trying to improve customer satisfaction?
    • Are you trying to improve the quality of your customer experience?
    • How do you define a defect in your service organization?
    • How do your measure the defect that you have defined?
    • Do your customers care if your process is Lean? Who benefits from implementing Lean or Six Sigma?
    • Are you focused more on back office operations and/or customer service and experience?

Depending on the focus of the Lean or Six Sigma implementation, it will drive different outcomes in the program and the adoption will vary based on the audience that is tasked to learn and implement the process.  Are their enough examples, best practices, and successful implementations for the various service organizations as a whole to learn and grow in the discipline? It will be hard for the organizations to visualize how the program will help their organization if all the examples are from manufacturing.

Here are some articles from the past several years that discuss implementing Lean or Six Sigma in service organizations:

Let me know your thoughts. What do you think are some of the challenges of implementing Lean or Six Sigma in service industries? What has been your experience with implementing Lean or Six Sigma in service organizations?

Branner Consulting, LLC excels in business process improvement consulting and training. We are problem solvers and business coaches. We perform business process audits and provide thought leadership on implementing or improving a business process improvement program. In addition, we facilitate process improvement workshops and provide one-on-one coaching.