Lean Six Sigma Emerging as Required Skill in Supply Chain Management

Lean Six Sigma Emerging as Required Skill in Supply Chain Management

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Lean Six Sigma Emerging as Required Skill in Supply Chain Management

As supply chain management becomes more sophisticated, what was once considered a bonus skill is now seen as a necessary one.

That skill is education and expertise in process improvement.

Process improvement already has revolutionized how many businesses approach operational management. Now, it has become necessary in developing the most effective supply chain operations.

This is especially true for managers. But those entering the field also will find that expertise and certification in methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma can give them an edge.

Signs Everywhere

The signs of process improvement methodologies becoming more integrated into supply chain management are popping up frequently of late.

For example, a young supply chain manager who is an advocate of Lean Six Sigma recently was named one of the “30 under 30 Supply Chain Stars.” Others have also found useful supply chain applications for Lean and Six Sigma. Job listings on Indeed for supply chain workers include many listings seeking expertise in process improvement, such as a Six Sigma Black Belt.

And in her keynote address at the 2018 Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, Gartner Research Vice President Dana Stiffler said organizations with leading supply chains – such as Amazon – are looking beyond core supply chain skills when hiring new talent.

They want those who have “disruptive” skills such as Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma. Other process improvement and project management methodologies, such as Business Process Management, can also disrupt the traditional approach to supply chain.

More From Gartner

In writing about the points raised by Stiffler and others at the conference, Dr. Madhav Durbha, vice president of industry strategy at Canadian supply chain company Kinaxis, said many college students he meets are beginning to understand the need to learn skills beyond those associated directly with supply chain.

As things stand, most degree programs do not explore process improvement methodologies in depth. As noted by Durbha, “ambitious” students and those already working in the industry have the option of attaining these skills separately.

Courses in Lean, Six Sigma and project management offered through schools such as Villanova University serve as quality options.

Certainly, process improvement falls within the Supply Chain Top 25 list released by Gartner in conjunction with the conference. As part of that list, Gartner touched on key trends within the industry. The first mentioned is customer focus – one of the primary tenets of methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma.

Part of the focus for supply chains, according to Gartner, is to examine every interaction that a customer has with the supply chain and find ways of improving it. These interactions have considerable influence on customers’ opinion of a company.

VOC and the Kano Model

Putting customer needs first when evaluating every aspect of an operation is an important facet of Six Sigma. It calls for organizations to evaluate aspects of an operation from the standpoint of how it impacts the products and services provided to customers.

Six Sigma uses this method – called Voice of the Customer (VOC) – as the foundation for quality improvements.

Another useful tool for understanding the needs of customers is the Kano Model, created in the 1980s by Japanese academic Noriaki Kano. Much like what Gartner mentions for supply chain, the idea of the model is to create a completely customer-focused business.

It measures the “must have” needs of customers, performance of the product or service based on data from customers and creating excitement by delivering a product or service that exceed expectations.

Tying it Into Supply Chain

How can Lean, Six Sigma and other process improvement methodologies work in supply chain? According to Dagny Dukach, head of marketing for Tive, there are many ways to tie tools such as VOC, the Kano Model and many others into supply chain management.

Writing for Industry Week, she notes that “at a high level,” Lean and Six Sigma are about reducing waste and errors while improving the quality of a product.

When put into play, the tactics and strategies can be applied in many ways, including the application of real-time data to better managing inventory and establish quantifiable quality standards for each step along the supply chain.

All this indicates how useful process improvement skills can be for those working in supply chain management. It might not be a requirement everywhere yet, but if this trend holds, it one day will be.

The post Lean Six Sigma Emerging as Required Skill in Supply Chain Management appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

Original: http://www.sixsigmadaily.com/lean-six-sigma-required-skill-supply-chain-management/
By: James LoPresti
Posted: June 21, 2018, 11:00 am

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