Spotlight #2: Special Tips for Nonmanufacturing Processes

With Robert Gettys and Michael Mueller

Process improvement or operational excellence in general, and Lean Six Sigma in particular, are most widely accepted and most easily understood in a manufacturing environment. This is often cited as an excuse for not deploying Lean Six Sigma into service- or retail-specific businesses or service or transactional areas of a business. In fact, the effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma in service and retail can be just as strong as in manufacturing, if you understand and accept the unique characteristics of these environments and respond accordingly.

What are the unique characteristics of service or retail environments?

  • A high number of customer-facing transactions

  • A large number of locations in which the transaction (retail or service) takes place

  • High variability in the customer-facing workforce (due to either high turnover or the use of seasonal workers aligned with the business cycle)

Perhaps more importantly, the service or retail experience plays a big role in determining ...

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