Lean Six-Sigma Concerns Are Solvable

This is one in a series of blog posts discussing Divurgent’s 2014 IT Organization Best Practice Study.  To view earlier blogs from this series, click here.

Lean Six-Sigma is a well- defined methodology with enthusiastic supporters and a proven track record. However, concern was expressed about the six-sigma team’s fervent adherence to the methodology and a lack of knowledge of the installed applications and healthcare processes. These deficiencies have limited the effectiveness of these teams, caused unnecessary project delays, and resulted in them being excluded from implementation efforts. These teams are engaged either before a project starts or after the implementation effort.

Concern was also expressed that Lean Six Sigma teams, without representation from IT and knowledge of the installed solutions, are identifying process changes which could not be supported by the applications. This has resulted in user disappointment (they get excited about a process change that cannot be made) and dissatisfaction with existing solutions.

Divurgent believes, however, that this is temporary. We believe, in the long run, at least one percent of the workforce in a healthcare organization will be trained in Lean methodologies as the organization adopts a culture of continuous improvement. SWAT teams consisting of at least 1 black belt, 1 clinician, and an application subject matter expert will be created and assigned to specific, quick-win initiatives. Establishing these SWAT teams will especially be true for projects that evaluate cross-system, major workflows (e.g. orders) that are 8 to 12 month efforts. The SWAT teams will report to quality but be coordinated by the PMO.

See What CIOs Are Saying About This Topic

“Lean/six sigma teams were excluded from our major implementation projects. They are not helpful on the front end, they tend to slow the project down. They are effective after the applications have been implemented.”

“The problems have to do with data analytics. They (Black Belts) want a certain type of data, but they don’t know how to get it and don’t know how to ask for it.”

“It’s a strained relationship (between IT and Lean Six-Sigma lead teams) because they aren’t computer savvy.”

“IT is very tight with our PI team because we do a lot of projects together. For IT to be effective we partner with everybody. We can’t do anything in isolation so we must partner with our customers. There is nothing we could do without them.”

The topic of the next blog entry will be Accountable Care Organizations.

To hear more about our study, please contact Divurgent at info@divurgent.com

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