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Using Six Sigma To Improve Office Processes

Mar 26, 2008
Using Six Sigma to improve office processes may be a relatively new phenomenon, but since the success rate of such quality improvement initiatives is high enough, it will not be wrong to proclaim that the future is certainly bright for such implementations.

Here, we look at how Six Sigma helping businesses to improve their office processes.

Defining Quality and Efficiency Standards

Six Sigma has made it a lot easier for business to define quality and efficiency standards as applicable to office processes, something that is a prerequisite for achieving the desired results. What Six Sigma does is that it converts vague quality and efficiency orders such as "reduce errors", "work fast" etc. into more definitive terms such as "reduce errors by 15 percent in three months", "process 20 files per hour" etc.

Now, all this new definitions may seem to be increasing the workload of employees, but that is certainly not true, because Six Sigma relies on time-tested tools and techniques that generate the most appropriate and realistic estimates of employee performance. In fact, employees stand to gain from such definitions because then they will know exactly what the company expects from them.

Additionally, since Six Sigma stresses replacing old inefficient systems with new newer, more efficient technologies, it is highly unlikely that the employees will have to do anything more that what they already might be doing. Businesses also stand to gain because then they can make accurate and timely predictions about human resource requirements.

This allows them to make the best possible use of existing resources, something that consequently results in huge cost savings.

Streamlining Existing Office Processes

Since office processes are quite different from manufacturing processes and since the human aspect needs to be given special consideration while initiating improvement measures in office processes, Six Sigma focuses on gathering input and feedback from employees before starting the tweaking process. Such input and feedback is gathered both at the time when the implementation team is in the process of selecting the right improvement methodology and when a methodology is finally short-listed for final implementation.

Getting such input and feedback is vital because it is the only way a business can possibly devise an improvement initiative that finds favor with the employees as well as gauge their initial reaction to a proposed improvement initiative. Since the success of such projects depends a lot on employee cooperation and support, it makes sense to take them into confidence right from the start. It is only then will the business be able to streamline its existing office processes without causing unnecessary employee disgruntlement or distrust, factors that are not conducive for the future growth prospects of any given business enterprise.

As we can see, Six Sigma does help a lot in improving the quality and efficiency of existing office processes, but what businesses should never forget is that employees are not machines that can be set to perform at specified levels of efficiency, all the time. As such, businesses need to adopt a more tolerant approach while using Six Sigma for improving their office processes.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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