Company Culture

3 Tips on Measuring Your Business Process Performance

If you want to improve a part of your business, you would measure the current situation, take counter-measures to improve it and measure again to see if you made significant improvements. Right?

When I start a business process improvement project (Lean or Six Sigma) we start with the team defining the metric: what are we going to measure to see improved performance?

Here are 3 tips to help you choose your metric:

1. Frequency

Choose a metric that you can measure with high frequency, at least on a weekly base or
even daily. This will give you the possibility to react quickly when taking counter-measures. This way you can improve the process faster.

I had once a project on reducing employee illness rate. Because the reporting system generated data only on the monthly base, our team chose sick time per day (in hours) because this data was available daily.

If we would have stick to the monthly data, we had needed to wait at least 5-8 month to collect data on the improved performance.

2. Accuracy

You want accurate data otherwise you have no clue whether the data showing improvements is due to your team effort or it is only better by chance.

There are some statistical tests within Six Sigma that you can take to investigate the accuracy of your measurement system. The approach should not only apply to measurements by instruments (weight, density, length, dimensions, etc.) but also in any other situations.

In most cases, you can take a more straight-forward approach by checking out the following:

  • How many people collect data? The less is better.
  • How data is collected? Automated reporting preferred above manually.
  • Is there a written procedure on data collection? If yes, it is easier to train others and observe if procedure is followed.

3.    Output instead of input

Recently I had a project on improving the efficiency of purchasing activities of the Material department. The perceived problem was that they spent too much time on operational activities (placing purchase orders, following up shipments, reminding suppliers about due dates, checking invoices) instead of tactical and strategic activities (like selecting preferred suppliers, contracting, simplifying purchasing and invoicing activities).

We decided to measure how working time was spent concerning the purchasing activities of the people. They found it difficult to measure, often forgot to register, made many ‘guesstimates’. As a result, our baseline data showed the opposite situation than what was expected: limited time spent on operational activities. The metric was not the right one and the data not accurate.

Instead of measuring input (time spent on activities) we could better measure output, like number of invoices, number of suppliers or lead-time of purchasing transactions. These are output parameters that should drop significantly when purchasing is better organised.

Measuring the right parameter on the right way, with the right frequency helps you improve your business performance. Get your Black Belt in business process excellence.

Beat the average.



More for less with Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare

More for less with Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare

Written by Cheryse Fortuin63iStock_000023771470Medium_400_0_1024

Meet Denise. Denise is a real ‘people person’ with a passion for her job as caretaker. She adores her clients and even the less glamorous tasks she performs with love. When her clients are happy, she is happy. However, in the last few months she has been forced to realize that, like many of her colleagues, she has lost precious time on administration — and that makes no one happy.

To keep afloat in the current economic climate every business and organization has to be bold enough to take a serious look at their own processes. It is the only way to always stay one step ahead of budget cuts without losing productivity or quality.

Are you working in Healthcare and feel responsible for the quality of your work?

With Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare you can improve it.

Herku mainly services health care institutions and businesses, helping them develop a crisis proof business strategy by changing the corporate culture from the inside. Working with both managers and caretakers, Herku develops processes that will not only increase quality and save costs in the long run, but will also create more time for clients.

To achieve this Herku uses a unique combination of the improvement methods Lean and Six Sigma that has been specifically optimized for the health care industry.

Lean was developed by Toyota and aims to eliminate unnecessary actions from the process. In other words, it concentrates on efficiency and time saving.

Six Sigma on the other hand is designed to increase the quality and predictability of the outcome, irrespective of the people involved.

The wonderful thing about these methods is that the basic principles are not restricted by time of fashion, and therefore they are perfectly applicable in other industries, such as health care.

Herku works according to the five stages defined by Six Sigma, called DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control). In every stage the input from the team is key; after all, they are the only ones who are truly familiar with the in’s and out’s of the problems at hand.

Herku provide on the job advice; they guide and guard the entire process from beginning to end and help to bring complex issues down to the core.

Often times, as an organization it is difficult to see the forest for the trees and identify the true causes of a problem — let alone deal with them. This is where our professional consultants are of great value. Instead of simply giving you a solution to the problem, we will give you insight into the causes. Whoever wants to effectively remove the weeds ultimately has to pull out the roots along with the plant.

If we are honest we have to admit change does not happen in a day. More often than not it is complicated, messy and unpleasant. At Herku we take the time — time to talk, time to adjust, time to continually improve, even ourselves.

Would you like to know more about Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare, how to get certified, please comment below.

NO EXCUSE: Responsibility is not a characteristic

personal responsibility in delivering excellence

Sense of responsibility: one has it, or one doesn’t. There is not a word of truth in this statement. Of course some people have more compassion with their fellows than others do, but there sure are techniques for sharpening your sense of responsibility. So no more excuses!

But what exactly is this sense of responsibility?

Some jobs and the belonging tasks demand for a lot of responsibility. Most of the times, those come together with a lot of money, or sometimes even human lives are at stake. People that own a sense of responsibility are characterized by their alertness. They constantly question themselves: Why is this going wrong? Can I do this, better, faster, or more efficiently? Also, they own the capacity of making decisions on their own, and being independent. Responsible people see it as their duty to watch over the well being of others in their surroundings, and will recognize alarm signals or stress factors in the blink of an eye.  It’s not about reflecting responsibility, but taking responsibility!

Developing your sense of responsibility

In case you would like to develop your sense of responsibility, you will have to learn to shut down your automatically generated thoughts. Irritation is a familiar emotion for you? Do you ever think: “Why is this happening now, again? I even told them so; just let it figure them out by themselves!” ? Then, I would strongly advise you to let go of this frustration and to take the following steps in developing your sense of responsibility.

  • Let go of your narrow-mindedness! This is rather the opposite of responsibility. You don’t want to do tasks that are not in your job description according to you? Then you will not be able to make a splendid career. It is showing lack of responsibility and it will not improve the quality of the product or service that you are delivering.
  • Try to be flexible. Has it ever occurred to you to work some overtime to finish this important order? Shake of this ‘from nine to five’ mentality and try to create some flexibility for making an extra mile. Doing slightly more than is requested for can tremendously boost the quality of your product or service.
  • Don’t forget about the details. Often, the quality of your product or service can be found in the details. To have an eye for details is of major concern for showing that you are taking responsibility for the quality delivered.
  • Be willing to do something for one another. To reach a helping hand to your colleague that is overloaded by work can be very much appreciated. Take responsibility for the organization as a whole and for the well being of your colleague. He won’t forget about it!
  • Don’t forget to share your responsibilities. In case you are afraid to do so, you will hinder yourself and your surroundings for no reason. People with too big of a sense of responsibility are excessively critical and point out to their colleagues what possibly could go wrong. This will give your colleagues a feeling of discomfort and it creates an awkward cooperation. Shake off this feeling of doing it better than others. Think of what actually could go wrong. This hardly ever is a irreparable mistake

Do you dare to take the step of developing a sense of responsibility?

I can help you in developing sense of responsibility by my online Lean Six Sigma trainings. With the help of improvement projects, internal process will be scrutinized to discover which input is of importance for your results. Then it will be determined what would be the best way to monitor this input and to optimize the process, and to deliver the quality that you stand for.

Lean Six Sigma works following a certain project sequence. Each step within the project will be gone through systematically, and according to the DMAIC principle, standing for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. For each phase, the project team will have to come together to brainstorm and to work out ideas.

But this only works if everybody in the team takes his or her responsibility, doesn’t it?

In case this is not happening, it is of importance for the project and the organization to stop and talk about this issue. Are YOU ready to take your responsibility?

Have a look at my training programs!

You can also contact me for some more information on the topic or for some advice.

The choice is yours.

: +31 6 54 69 40 47