Sustainability & Operational Excellence

All businesses must change, grow and meet challenges in surviving and thriving.  Within dynamic change and challenge arise problems.  Generally, most businesses know what needs to be fixed, but understanding exactly how to effect fixes is another matter.

This is where Lean Six Sigma’s (LSS) QPE methodology can serve.  QPE stands for:  Quantify, Prioritize, and Eliminate.  QPE methods provide the institutionalization of continuous elimination of constraints throughout the value chain.  QPE establishes metrics paired with a disciplined collection and quantification of data.  This in turn prioritizes the work to be done, in matching capacity and eliminating constraints.  This has proven to be the shortest and most cost effective method to ensure sustainable success in the business environment.

In enabling and ensuring sustainability, QPE serves the four foundational process pillars of business:  the Financial Pillar, the Operations/Supply Chain Pillar, the Quality Pillar, and the Launch/Challenge Pillar.

When we Quantify, we define and measure process for the purpose of examination.  Again, we examine with an eye for the continuous elimination of constraints.  Constraints can be any inhibitor on the free flow of process, such as defects, poor process steps, inhibiting transactions, unperformed sign-offs, inefficient inspection checkpoints, etc.  Elimination, limitation, or bringing efficiency or better processes to these sticking points allows a process to move toward faster completion.  Here, as in about any business evaluation, proper collection and interpretation of data is key.

Next is Prioritization.  Here, keep in mind that QPE is a process for the continuous elimination of constraints through the entire value chain.  Ambiguity is unaffordable, and here the team must review and prioritize data.  This prioritization yields containment activity for different areas of inspection, and the implementation of initial corrective action is undertaken.  Recognize that prioritizing the top defects likely yields a disproportionate, favorable yield on total system defects; for example, prioritization of and addressing your top 3 defects may have favorable effect on close to 50% of total system defects.

Eliminate:   We take those corrective actions that have permanent effect.  Here, it is important to confirm that a corrective action did in fact eliminate a constriction or problem.  Again, a review of data and appropriate measures is key, with subsequent communication to employees before moving to the next initiative.

When eliminating constraints through quantifying, prioritizing, and elimination, quality increases and costs go down, and customer satisfaction increases.  Success begets success, and communication of wins begets better morale and further improvement to the organization’s value chains.  Further, QPE allows easy entrée to Lean Six Sigma techniques for elimination of constraints and inhibitors to sound business sustainability as a whole.

About the Author: Matt Stewart is the President, Chief Lean Transformation Implementation Specialist, and Operations/Quality Turnaround Expert for GBWS Limited. Having trained and championed over 140 Lean/Six Sigma events, Matt has led projects in many different industries ranging from implementation of quality improvement systems to Lean manufacturing conversions of plant-wide operations.

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