The world of technology is no longer jargon for us. We have been adapting to technology for quite some time now, and it is not just something that we use in our daily lives but also a core enables to businesses now. Business owners are now chasing over to pivot their business quickly to the digital transformation. However, before they even begin to capture the digital world’s opportunity and value, business owners have to make changes to account for the digital business models. They have to see the correlations between Lean Six Sigma and digital transformation before starting to embark on it. With Lean Six Sigma, organizations can focus on eliminating waste and reducing defects and variations in the process. Hence, whilst organizations want to be involved in the innovations of doing business that require an efficient operational process as a foundation, incorporating Lean Six Sigma is the best choice they could ever make.
What is lean six sigma?
What is Lean? Lean is increasing and improving process performance by eliminating waste and cycle time reduction. Lean was developed in Toyota as part of the Toyota Production System, and the fundamental of lean is to eliminate waste. It is a set of tools that assist the production team in identifying and eliminating waste in the process or manufacturing of the products or services. Meanwhile, Six Sigma is focusing more on reducing process variations or problems to enhance process control.
Whereas Lean Six Sigma is a methodology combined to give the best possible quality of finished goods and services to the customers without increasing the process cost. It helps to improve customer satisfaction by reducing variation, waste, cycle time and, at the same time, implementing work standardization and flow.
What is happening in today’s world with Industrial Revolution IR 4.0?
Look around you now, and what do you see? Do you see people going around carrying a gigantic phone book we used to call the ‘Yellow Pages’? Do you see students carrying heavy books like they used to? Yes, these scenarios are occasional now, and people are still doing these as the rare species. Why? This is because are now living in the digital world where everything is just at the tip of your finger. If you want to listen to some good oldies, the 80s and 90s songs, you do not have to go to the cassette rental places (which I guess are closed now). Just download the apps on your smartphones, and voila! You can now have some throwback moments, just like that. Now, all you need is a good internet connection, and you are pretty much everywhere you want to be. If you are craving some good Korean dishes like the ones you have in Myeongdong streets in Korea, tap on the food delivery apps, choose your favourite Korean meals, say ‘jal meo-kket-ssum-ni-da’, and you can enjoy your food!
We are undergoing Industrial Revolution 4.0 or IR 4.0, not only in Malaysia but the whole wide world! Industrial Revolution 4.0 is eventually revolutionizing how companies do things to improve the quality, quantity, and manufacture of their products. Companies in manufacturing can now change their main powers from humans to robots. These machines can work extra hours without even making a mistake that helps to eliminate waste in the process. Factories are now being called ‘smart factories’ equipped with high-technologies machines with advanced sensors, embedded software, and a ‘robotics brain’ that helps collect and analyze data to allow better decision-making during the process. With IR 4.0, companies will have to go through a digital transformation to do things digitally. The main focus here is data, and it is no longer about physical things. What is data? Data is numbers or qualitative attributes that we can analyze, and people have been saying that data is the new gold. When companies are starting to pivot to the digital world, they need to know that this transformation involves data with many repetitive tasks, and it will all be automated. Therefore, many electronic devices are used to collect the data and help collect, analyze, and communicate the data. This means, throughout the entire process, a lot of devices are needed to run the data.
 An expression used by the Koreans to express gratitude to the host or chef by telling them the food they gave you was delicious.
A pretty simple example of how this IR 4.0 works in your daily life. Let’s have a throwback moment to 10 years back when you buy your first refrigerator. It was nicely built, bulky, with two parts, the chiller and the freezer. Fast forward ten years later, a fridge is no longer an ordinary fridge to store your foods. It is a modernized fridge with a temperature scan through it where you can see the temperature of your fridge with a sensor. Even better, you can even watch YouTube with it! A smart system in your house where you can control the lights in your home with just a remote. You can control how many lights you need during the day, and you can even control the movements of the curtains in your house with a smart system, connected to a sensor. This sensor will collect data and send it to the processing unit to analyze. This is where the Internet of Things or IoT comes in handy to help the digital transformation. Internet of Things is when we connect the equipment to the internet, and yes, we have been seeing a lot of devices now are connected to the internet.
Why do we need data?
As I mentioned earlier, when your company is thinking of pivoting to the digital transformation and getting involved in IR 4.0, data is crucial. This is because, we want to have data-driven decision making to have the predictive capability in the business. As a business owner, you need to know what will happen in the near future and the new demands in the market nowadays? Hence, in order to answer all of that, all you need is data. Artificial intelligence teaches a computer to mimic human intelligence. It helps to do things that humans can do from the most straightforward task to crucial ones like decision making. Data helps a lot in especially in machine learning. Have you guys heard about the algorithm? An algorithm is a formula to problem-solving, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. Algorithms are widely used throughout the IT spectrum; a search engine algorithm takes search strings of keywords as an input to be searched in relevant web pages and to return results that people are searching for. Why is the algorithm important? It helps businesses to know the demographic patterns of their customers.
How lean six sigma is useful
Remember one thing, technology is an enabler to the digital transformation. You can use artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, but deep down, you will still face organisational problems if your processes are not capable enough. This will tend to happen when there is no structured working procedure during the process. Therefore, before jumping the gun, you need to understand that Lean Six Sigma comes before the digital transformation. Before your company embark on IR 4.0, you must first ensure that the organisations meet customer requirements. Lean Six Sigma is a methodology or a structured way of doing things. When your company is facing a problem, you have to look at the process level. Things may be pretty easy with technology, but not all issues can be solved using technology. The technology itself may cause some problems. The only way to solve this problem is by having someone in the organisation who can find the major problems that are happening.
Lean Six Sigma is a statistical methodology, hence many tools in Lean Six Sigma are used in IR 4.0, such as regression. Hence, a company needs to implement the Lean Six Sigma methodology before implementing IR 4.0. When someone in the production team has Lean Six Sigma knowledge (Green Belt and Black Belt), they already have the basic working ideas of the Root Cause Analysis, a skill set on how to analyze problems. Therefore, when the organization is embarking on Artificial Intelligence, they already know what to expect and their issues later. It is best to upskill and upscale with the Lean Six Sigma knowledge before embarking on the digital transformation journey to have better-structured processes, avoid mistakes, and eliminate waste beforehand. With tools such as the Root Cause Analysis, regression, Failure Mood Effects Analysis (FMEA), Statistical Analysis will help organizations have a smooth sailing journey in the digital transformation.
MBizM Group provides various stages of Lean Six Sigma training such as Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt. Our consultants and trainers are Lean Six Sigma certified and they have conducted training for many years to clients with different industries. For your information, LSS Academy is an Accredited Training Organization, Curriculum Provider and Examination Center by IASCC and by Council for Six Sigma Certification. We offer the best price for Lean Six Sigma Training in Malaysia with certified trainers and complimentary training materials. If you wish to learn more about process mapping and Lean Six Sigma training, do visit our website at https://mbizm.com/ and contact us to speak with our representative at +603 7873 8485 to learn more about our Lean Six Sigma programmes.
Mr. Balasharmila Rao, Business and Process Management (BPM) Consultant, LSS Academy Sdn. Bhd.