5 Steps to Solve Both Lean and Six Sigma Projects

Case Study

One of the recent projects – my Green Belt student has finished – was about the speed up part of the sales process.

Reducing process time is the core focus of the Lean Methodology, so this is a typical Lean project.

But whether it is a time issue (efficiency problems, therefore Lean project) or it is a quality issue (Six Sigma project), you should follow the same steps called DMAIC:


Anyway, this Green Belt working  in Sales and Customer Service, he realized that the customers were complaining about the long delivery time. Interestingly, in the perception of the customer the clock starts ticking from the moment their machine part is delivered to the maintainence company and quotation is requested concerning the refurbishment job.

The Green Belt – being responsible for the quotations – measured: it takes 9 days on average with high variation.


The team set up a time registration form to measure the time of each step during the process of getting the quotation to the customer.

They found out that there were too many participants in the process, each one with their own priorities. Furthermore, based on the data, they agreed to change the measurement by taking out the weekends to get better quality of the data.

The new base line data revealed 6,29 workdays on average.


The team has made a cause and effect analysis (using Ishikawa diagram, also called fish-bone diagram) to find the main cause of this long lead time.

The conclusion was that the number of participants has to be reduced combining certain steps and leaving out the cleaning of the machine since it was not always required for a good evaluation of the condition of the machine part.


New process is designed and agreed with all the participants. By the way: they were all in the team or very closely involved so there was no issue like disagreement or unwillingness to change the way they work.

After introducing the new procedure, the improvement was clear: on average they need 4 workdays to bring out the quotation.

That is 36% improvement only on the speed!

Sales and Customer Service is confident that they are able to fill up the gained capacity with extra quotations which will lead to more sales.

Furthermore, due to the reduction of one participant in the process, this person is now able to spend more time on maintenance work – which is directly billed to the customers. That’s again an important gain.

Lastly, the Planner has less work with this projects because he used to put these projects – being in status “quotations” – on the plan board. He does  not need to do it any more according to the new procedure (removing non-value-added activities).


In order to sustain improvements the team will keep on monitoring the individual quotation time and recall the team if needed. All the findings are also summarized in their Control Plan for reference and audit purposes.

Closing words:

As you see, you are able to solve efficiency problems using these exact same stages. Just follow the structure, don’t miss one out and do it with a team.

That’s it. It’s your turn now.

Warm regards,


PS: Read more case studies and the exact use of tools and techniques in each of the above-mentioned stages from my book at

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