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What Lean Six Sigma Practitioners Should Know About Benchmarking

Feb 4, 2008
Benchmarking plays a vital role in Lean Six Sigma implementation projects as it allows Six Sigma professionals to assess the overall value offered by a product, service or process in comparison to the value being offered by the nearest competitor. Such assessments are quite necessary, especially when it comes to designing and developing new products, services and processes or altering existing ones so as to suit customer needs and requirements.

Identifying Processes That Need To Be Benchmarked

Six Sigma professionals should never forget that benchmarking will deliver the desired results only when all the standard rules and procedures are followed. To make effective use of benchmarking in Lean Six Sigma implementation projects, Six Sigma professionals such as Black Belts will first have to identify all the processes within the organization that add the most value, are vital for the success of the organization and have the potential for getting benchmarked.

They will also be required to identify CTQ's (Critical To Quality) in consultations with top management before starting the benchmarking process. After this they will be required to take decisions regarding the selection of standards that will serve as benchmarks. This is often the most difficult part, because information about standards and procedures being followed by the nearest competitor is usually kept confidential. In such cases, Six Sigma professionals might be required to set the benchmarks on their own keeping in mind the Voice of the Customer (VOC) so as to increase the applicability of the benchmarking process.

Moving On With The Implementations

After selecting the processes that need benchmarking, Six Sigma professionals then need to concentrate on carrying out the implementations (i.e. undertaking all the "Lean" initiatives that might be necessary for achieving the set benchmarks). For this, they will be required to gather all the resources that might be required, create implementation teams, select implementation team members, define roles and responsibilities, allocate resources and make sure that everything is being done as planned. They should also never hesitate to consult the Project Sponsor or top management if they need assistance on issues related to the project implementation. They should continue to work towards achieving the benchmarks because only that will mark the completion of the Lean Six Sigma implementation project.

Benchmarking certainly helps in improving the quality of products, services and processes but it does not guarantee increased sales because there are many other variables such as cost that affect the buying behavior of customers. However, since benchmarking does help in increasing the probability that sales will increase, there is no reason as to why businesses should not use it. For getting the most out of benchmarking, businesses just need to ensure that benchmarking does not lead to any major price increases.
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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