Six Sigma has become an integral methodology for businesses as a measurement-based strategy, embodied in highly structured projects focused on improving processes, practices, and profits. Lean is another methodology, focused primarily on addressing errors and waste. Though they are quite different in approach, they are conjoined successfully by many as Lean Six Sigma. For our discussion, let’s look at a core concept that Lean Six Sigma and a sales and product configurator like e-Con share: Sharply reducing defects and variations (waste) for processes, and optimizing processes to meet customer needs and improve business results. e-Con can fit into that strategic framework, offering flexible, automated configure- to-quote capabilities that deliver concrete, sustainable competitive edge. Aligned focus areas include reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction, and decreasing turnaround time for customer requests through prompt fulfillment.
Lean Six Sigma industry range—and compatibility with CPQ
Lean Six Sigma has become the backbone strategy for a broad range of industries that need to configure disconnected processes, data, and business areas into agile operations. The examples below could all benefit from a configurator solution that keeps customer needs front and center while increasing profits and growth via process improvement:
- Trade, Transport & logistics: Increasing First Time Right delivery, reducing inventory costs and picking errors by creating accurate controlled information from the start.
- Business Services; Increasing customer value by jointly and structurally improve customer processes
- Banks and insurance companies: reducing lead time for mortgage applications or claims processing by automating calculations and assuring that all necessary information is provided.
- Telecom & Utilities: Increasing service desk resolutions, reducing / preventing the number of reported incidents;
- Medical Care: Efficient surgical procedures with reduced errors and faster patient recovery with checklists and assurance that all necessary questions were asked.
- Government: Faster, more transparent processing for routine, repeatable areas such as licensing and other protocols
The parallels that can also make Lean Six Sigma and e-Con a happy marriage
Both Lean Six Sigma and e-Con use precise meeting of customer needs as the bottom line, while still growing profits and growth. e-Con aligns with Lean Six Sigma’s focus on reducing process steps (Lean) and ensuring outcome of processes is predictable and controlled (Six Sigma).
1. Quality improvement
Lean Six Sigma lays a strong foundation for quality improvement. In Six Sigma this is done in the form of a project using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) methodology. By training employees to find ways to eliminate waste, they are themselves able to improve their processes. Management and all employees are actively involved in this endeavor to continuously improve.
2. Improving turnaround
Lean Six Sigma exposes the “hidden factory.” Often it’s there to resolve process and procedural issues, but that costs a lot of time and often leads to frustration. Organizations often do not have the time to examine exactly where it goes wrong; where the wastes are. DMAIC lays bare the hidden factory and breaks it down. Lean brings everyone into the process of finding bottlenecks and finding ways to make things flow faster and more smoothly.
3. Organizational self-improvement
Lean Six Sigma stresses that added value for the customer is central to continuing to operate by Six Sigma principles. Meeting the needs of the customer not only increases customer satisfaction but also helps organizations to have a focus to continuously at their services, products and processes, then find ways to improve them.
4. Improved Financial Perfomance
Improving processes with Lean Six Sigma contributes directly to the bottom line. Lean Six Sigma quality is not an end in itself but a means to achieve the real goal, namely improving operational efficiency and effectiveness to create value for the customer.
If we turn attention to sales and production configuration, we see how combining Lean Six Sigma with a solution like e-Con makes a great strategy stronger.
Bolstering quality improvement
Six Sigma Quality Management is built into a strong Sales and Product Configurator, because the solution enables an organization to set for itself all possible correct combinations for offerings, pricing and timing impact for specific choices—anything related to building a flawless quote. The process is bullet-proof because the configurator’s rules engine prevents product combination and pricing errors—it’s all automated and guided. Call it ‘right the first time’. Result? Customers will quickly appreciate that sales can build and deliver a quote in minutes that meets all criteria and won’t wobble on pricing. Once approved, there’s instant conversion and a start to production or projects. A tool like e-Con can work independently and for our purposes provides major support for executing Lean Six Sigma quality improvement.
Further improving turnaround
A configurator with a “configure anything, right the first time” engine, improved process flow is bound to improve turnaround. No one can deviate ad hoc, unfeasible combinations can’t be saved, and because everyone is working with the same information and process flow, quote through order can be monitored with ease. A configurator adds to turnaround precision demanded with Six Sigma. At any time, status or results of changes can be viewed immediately, across the organization. Examples include measurable improvements in variation in turnaround time, improved chances of winning a deal, tightly controlled margins and revenue per order.
Allowing Organizations more time to focus on startegy
If process steps are reduced and predictable, accurate results assured—the heart of Lean Six Sigma—employees can focus on building their order winning ratio, acquisitions, and uncovering surprise opportunities for customers and markets. A configurator saves time, and educated and trained employees can spend this time wisely for.
The big picture: operational improvement
We’ve been talking throughout about the critical factor in Lean Six Sigma success: making customers happy. And above we’ve been discussing how a configurator can make customers happy: quotes done in minutes, built-in margin freedoms and limits, and conversion to orders and all docs needed to get the customer your offerings—best quality that meets lean requirements.
That is just the beginning with e-Con. By making e-Con available throughout the organization and allowing the employees to find ways to apply it, you can improve any application. All you need is the e-Con Configurator’s high quality, rules based engine, your data, the need to make the same decision with it every time and process that data into usable information. With the e-Con Configurator, you can unleash the imagination of your organization to continuously improve.
Truly successful CPQ solutions work as part of a total business system, not as a separate application. That’s how the e-Con Sales and Product configurator works with Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, and CRM. e-Con’s commitment to Dynamics enables a marriage where two become one. e-Con configures directly in the Dynamics database, combining and optimizing information and processes with tools that turn quote to production into a unified, “right the first time” process. Intrigued? Explore the-Con Solutions website—and use e-Con to configure a solutions brochure tailored to your business’s challenges and key roles!