Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two process improvement methods: Lean and Six Sigma. It’s designed to reduce organizational costs by removing waste, or “muda,” from a process through continual business processes improvement. By removing waste and reducing process variation, organizations can improve overall production quality and efficiency.
Why use a process model?
Organizations often implement Lean Six Sigma to improve business processes, run more efficiently and reduce costs. Getting a handle on processes can bring order to the chaos.
The Lean Six Sigma method calls upon organizations to define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC), laying the foundation for a successful Lean Six Sigma process improvement project.
The first step, “define”, involves thoroughly understanding processes. To do that, an organization should model processes exactly how they exist today. This is not a future state or wish list exercise. Documenting the current state helps all team members work together to define a common understanding of the process from start to finish. Once the current process is captured, the organization can effectively improve it by following the other DMAIC steps.
Process modeling helps by:
Bringing team members together to understand a full and true view of the process
Creating a process picture with associated data, allowing for Lean Six Sigma analysis
Increasing the ability to understand the process, which helps identify pain points and improvement changes
Benefits of dedicated process modeling
Basic diagramming tools help define an initial business process and provide a good path to getting processes off of sticky notes and into a digital format. However, if company-wide collaboration and real-time change management are important, a dedicated process modeling tool may be the better choice.
Basic diagramming tools lack many of the capabilities that lead to the next level of true process improvement. Simple diagramming tools often don’t include the ability to add data to activities such as role; time; cost; and information about suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers (SIPOC), which is what turns a static process map into a dynamic, data-rich process model that allows for continuous improvement. By moving to a dedicated process modeling software such as IBM Blueworks Live, organizations can input data to turn process maps into process models while implementing version control, keeping teams in sync and standardizing an effective process modeling solution across the organization.
View the comparison guide to see when you’d benefit from a dedicated process mapping tool such as Blueworks Live over a simple drawing tool.