Monday, 22 February 2016

Benefits of Integrating Business Process Management with Lean Six Sigma


Business Process Management and Lean Six Sigma can work very well together. Each system has something great to contribute to an organization, which results in a higher level of power when combined. However, today not all organizations throughout the world either recognize the benefits or have failed to implement the combined initiatives through a system such as Integrated Enterprise Excellence.
In Lean Six Sigma, members and leaders are typically taught that technology is not a vital component in terms of solving process problems. Although BPM involves technology, Lean Six sigma can be enhanced through BPM’s methodologies and capabilities. Similarly, BPM users tend not to have appreciation of Lean Six Sigma strategies and how the techniques of Lean Six Sigma could lead to more effective BPM deployments. BPM and Lean Six Sigma complement each other in many ways possible, but not many are aware about these. Five benefits of integrating these two initiatives are:
1. Process Enforcement and Business Ownership
The integration of BPM and Lean Six Sigma can speed up the real-time execution of processes even when a team is geographically dispersed. With the tools combined, organizations or businesses can offer an orchestration of the essential elements of the techniques, such as the processes, inputs, outputs, failure analysis, documentation, evaluation, statistical analysis and feedback, among others. An effective collaboration of BPM and Lean Six Sigma can result in processes that can be automatically executed through BPM?s automation.
Through this integration, practitioners or business owners can have more control, which is intensified by monitoring and the reporting of predictive process performance metrics. The BPM portion and associated software can provide vital data for implementation and process design. This simply means that all processes can be executed according to their intent with harmony. This minimizes the risks of problems occurring.
2. Agility and Speed
Organizations will experience benefits when the two initiatives (i.e., agility and speed) operate together. For instance, a supplier can improve its competitiveness by reducing the delivery time. Through the use of Lean Six Sigma methods, this organization can determine the value stream map, which highlights the metrics and focus points necessary to reduce total lead time.
In this, the value stream map is broken down from the lower processes up to the point that key areas of waste and failure are addressed. Once improved, it results in delivery time enhancements. A BPM automation initiative can act at this time to deploy the controls and processes throughout the initial key areas, such as waiting order approvals and signatures. Through BPM, there can be automated controls, where all the data for process performance are collected in real time.
3. Better Approach to Problem Solving
Usually, Lean Six Sigma strategies focus on resolving narrow and highly specific issues. With this technique, all the data necessary to eradicate all wasted work can be determined in an efficient manner. Hence, there can be a well-defined set of steps or activities, which will aid in eliminating all the non-value-added work.
However, a traditional Lean Six Sigma deployment by itself often misses the big picture. This is where Business Process Management can be beneficial in the picture. In general, organizations benefit the most when there is a framework that will support the integration of the two techniques so that all angles of the problem solving process will be looked in a more precise manner; e.g., the Integrated Enterprise Excellence business management system described above.
4. Patches the Weaknesses
Lean Six Sigma alone in terms of a deployment involves two major weak points:
  • The enhancements obtained from Lean Six Sigma have the tendency to become isolated and less focused, which can lead to problems with the flow of services or products in terms of the bigger context, like in an enterprise.
  • A Lean Six Sigma deployment depends upon the collection of resources from competitors and views priorities the same way cooperatives do. Since various business units have their unique priority ratings, reviewing the right priorities normally leads to slow enterprise-wide improvements.
Now, what about BPM? Essentially, BPM is not into statistics  creation of hypothesis test when it comes to identifying areas for improvements like a Lean Six Sigma process improvement roadmap suggests. Yet, BPM within an IEE structure lays the framework required for modification in workflows and processes to allow the implementation of enhanced outputs derived from Lean Six Sigma.
5. Higher Returns
Average companies, which either employ Lean Six Sigma or BPM, are known to generate increased profit when compared to those who do not utilize any initiative. However, those organizations that manage to effectively integrate BPM and Lean Six Sigma successfully achieve the most long-lasting benefits.
Many organizations are deploying both Lean Six Sigma and BPM. Most of these companies are large companies, but smaller ones can also reap the benefits of BPM and Lean Six Sigma, together. Those companies that either utilizes Six Sigma, BPM or both experienced significant improvements on essential performance indicators. Yet, those who performed the integration of the two initiatives gained higher levels of success, particularly in terms of revenues.
Without doubt, the two initiatives have a lot to give to one another since they only have one goal  help organizations optimize and manage their processes more efficiently. While the focus and approach may be different, the combined efforts really help in elimination of waste, improving quality and developing better control.
BPM and Lean Six Sigma integration is promising, but organizations should be clever and alert to achieve continuous improvement throughout the years to come. An Integrated Enterprise Excellence system provides a roadmap for this effective integration.


  1. Colin, thank you for the sharing of this article posted via Quality Magazine! I am very passionate about the 9-step system to integrate business processes with business vision, mission and values!