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Lean Six Sigma projects apply the Lean principle of value-added effort in the definition of the project and when identifying the opportunity for improvement.
When to use
The elements of value are determined during the Define phase and used throughout the project to determine whether activity is value-added or non-value added.
During the Define phase the Lean Six Sigma team needs to determine all the elements of value associated with the outputs of the process. These elements of value are based upon what is valuable to the customers of the process, not what has been done historically or what is company policy.
The Lean tools will enable the team to determine for each of those elements of value, what, when, where the process delivers the value and often why a step must occur. The Six Sigma tools will help to answer the question of how, or at least how well, the process delivers that value.
With this definition of the elements of value, the team will determine over the course of the Lean Six Sigma project which process steps are value added and which are not. In addition, during the Improve and Control phases, the team will strive to eliminate the non-value added steps and optimize the flow through the value-added steps.
When categorizing process steps or portions of a step as value-added, the activity must be directly contributing to the customer value, not just enabling another step to add value. For instance, if the item must go through a special process to add value, the special processing is adding value but the movement to and from the special process area is not adding value.
A further analysis will be done by the Lean Six Sigma team to determine value-added time in the process. This is the time associated with conducting a value-added activity on an item. The non-value added time is then both the time associated with non-value added activity and the time spent by the item in the process waiting until the next step. The process time will be calculated using a 24 hour, seven day a week clock, since that is the total time the customer is experiencing. It is quite common to find that the vast majority of the time an item spends in a process is non-value added.
Hints & tips
- The managers and operators in the process will often have difficulty classifying activities as non-value added. They will say, “But you must do this activity, or another step will not be as efficient.” Nevertheless, if that step is not directly adding an element of value, it is non-value added. The implication is that the team should consider other ways to improve or control the value-added step rather than expecting non-value added steps to do this.
- Be very careful when classifying non-value activities. If that activity is the primary job of someone, they make take offense and think you are saying that they are a worthless person. Affirm that they did the job well, but the work is no longer needed.
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