Summary: Lean Six Sigma is a proven philosophy and methodology that has improved processes across many industries. Here we show 21 ways on how Lean Six Sigma can be applied to WFM processes to reduce errors, delays, make your team more productive (and happier) and increase client and customer (ex. Operations and HR) satisfaction.
Lean Six Sigma combines the Lean methodologies of waste elimination such as value stream mapping (VSM), mistake-proofing, and kaizen (small continuous improvement) with Six Sigma’s methodologies such as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) and critical-to-quality (CTQ) methods. Lean focuses on increasing the speed of task completion (via eliminating or minimizing non-value added activities) to maximize the value provided to customers while Six Sigma focuses on reducing output variability (via statistical tools and a structural framework) to improve service quality.
For your Workforce Management Team, how can Lean Six Sigma be applied? Below are 21 specific and actionable ways.
Pro tip: Is there a need for 100% of the WFM team to be trained in Lean Six Sigma before this gets deployed? That would be ideal if possible. If not, piloting it in one team helps to build proof of concept and create small wins.
- Build process KPIs using VOC and Kano analysis to monitor the success of each WFM process
Lean Six Sigma is a methodology to improve business processes. But how can a business process be “improved” if there are no measures to check if it is improving? In this area, it is very important to listen to the customer and what they value. In scheduling, for example, a scheduler may see that schedule efficiency is the most important metric and he/she may build a set of very tough schedules that would create maximum efficiency but if those types of schedules would create issues with Operations, then another type of metric may need to be designed. In the Define stage of Lean Six Sigma, understanding true customer requirements is done via VOC and Kano analysis.
VOC means Voice of the Customer and this is where you get information directly from customers in order to understand their needs and expectations. Operations is one of WFM’s customers. Some prefer to call Operations as “partners”. Regardless of the terminology and relationship strategy per company, what is important is to clearly understand what customers and/or partners need and expect from the Workforce management team. VOC can be gathered from surveys, FGD (Focus Group Discussions), interviews and historical escalations/complaints.
Kano analysis also helps in building process KPIs by classifying customer requirements and preferences into three categories: basic, performance and excitement. Basic requirements are those that are considered essential and are necessary for customer satisfaction. For example, a shift bid that has complete agent schedules. Performance requirements are those that customers expect to be present in the product or service. For example, a shift bid that has consecutive rest days and no staggered start times. Excitement requirements are those that exceed customers’ expectations and can be used to differentiate the service. For example, a shift bid that already considered prior agent schedule preferences even before the initial shift bid file was published.
Building these process KPIs may include a quarterly survey of Team leaders and Operations Managers or a quantitative report showing the percent of scheduling parameters adhered to.
- Use a Value Stream Map to see where non-value added steps in your scheduling and shift bid process can be minimized and reduce lead time