CASE STUDIES

Lean Six Sigma at a Big 4 Retailer

 

 

I lead a Supply chain improvement at a top 5 Retailer in the UK that not only resulted in £57M cost savings and 30% reduction in lead time but also dramatic behavioural changes  a truly working cross-functional team and with increased responsibility and accountability resulted high performing employees.

 

Problem 


The Retailer had a major issue with their supply chain and the products were not landing on time which meant loss Sales. The critical path for their supply chain was not effective.

 

 

 

  Challenges

 

  1. 1Very little information was readily available, data gathering was quiet complex ; therefore identifying and understanding the issues and then delivering a solution within 3 months was a key challenge
     

  2.  The Solution that I had to propose was to be simple and non complex as it was aimed at varied stakeholders and one version of the truth.
     

  3.  Even if I come up with magic one solution I had to get the buy-in of various stakeholders to agree to a common solution within a short period

 

  Challenges

 

  1. 1Very little information was readily available, data gathering was quiet complex ; therefore identifying and understanding the issues and then delivering a solution within 3 months was a key challenge
     

  2.  The Solution that I had to propose was to be simple and non complex as it was aimed at varied stakeholders and one version of the truth.
     

  3.  Even if I come up with magic one solution I had to get the buy-in of various stakeholders to agree to a common solution within a short period

 

  Challenges

 

  1. 1Very little information was readily available, data gathering was quiet complex ; therefore identifying and understanding the issues and then delivering a solution within 3 months was a key challenge
     

  2.  The Solution that I had to propose was to be simple and non complex as it was aimed at varied stakeholders and one version of the truth.
     

  3.  Even if I come up with magic one solution I had to get the buy-in of various stakeholders to agree to a common solution within a short period

 

  Challenges

 

  1. 1Very little information was readily available, data gathering was quiet complex ; therefore identifying and understanding the issues and then delivering a solution within 3 months was a key challenge
     

  2.  The Solution that I had to propose was to be simple and non complex as it was aimed at varied stakeholders and one version of the truth.
     

  3.  Even if I come up with magic one solution I had to get the buy-in of various stakeholders to agree to a common solution within a short period

 

  Approach

 

  1. To gather data, I interviewed about 50 different colleagues across all functions and departments, did store and distribution centre walkthroughs, gathered information and benchmarked against parent company and . I also enrolled with the Global Supply Chain
    Council , where I gathered best practices, KPI’s , Information on competitors

     

  2. There were 50 different versions of the critical path each with up to 50 lines of tasks by function , by department. The break through moment , was when I inferred from the information available that defining the critical path in terms of process flow would merge all functional and departmental critical path into one. Thus a new critical path was borne.  It had only 14 steps and it was defined in terms of the process flow like strategy review meeting held, buy plan signed off, buy trip conducted etc..
     

  3. To get the buy-in of all stakeholders, I started involving them from the start; to break the functional silos, I set up a cross functional team of 14 representatives from each function.  By bringing them together they could appreciate the issues of each other and also able to provide solution and share ideas. Thus they were able to produce sensible ideas to reduce lead times.(Used DMAIC – tools as-is , to be , 5s Fishbone, Pareto Analysis)
     

  4. I also set up a communication  via e-mails, newsletters, townhall sessions for information, clarification and  addressing fears and concerns outside of the project team.  There was complete visibility of what was happening outside of the project group
     

  5. Training gaps were identified and  training plans were in place as simple as coupling a junior buyer with a senior buyer

 

 

  Approach

 

  1. To gather data, I interviewed about 50 different colleagues across all functions and departments, did store and distribution centre walkthroughs, gathered information and benchmarked against parent company and . I also enrolled with the Global Supply Chain
    Council , where I gathered best practices, KPI’s , Information on competitors

     

  2. There were 50 different versions of the critical path each with up to 50 lines of tasks by function , by department. The break through moment , was when I inferred from the information available that defining the critical path in terms of process flow would merge all functional and departmental critical path into one. Thus a new critical path was borne.  It had only 14 steps and it was defined in terms of the process flow like strategy review meeting held, buy plan signed off, buy trip conducted etc..
     

  3. To get the buy-in of all stakeholders, I started involving them from the start; to break the functional silos, I set up a cross functional team of 14 representatives from each function.  By bringing them together they could appreciate the issues of each other and also able to provide solution and share ideas. Thus they were able to produce sensible ideas to reduce lead times.(Used DMAIC – tools as-is , to be , 5s Fishbone, Pareto Analysis)
     

  4. I also set up a communication  via e-mails, newsletters, townhall sessions for information, clarification and  addressing fears and concerns outside of the project team.  There was complete visibility of what was happening outside of the project group
     

  5. Training gaps were identified and  training plans were in place as simple as coupling a junior buyer with a senior buyer

 

 

  Approach

 

  1. To gather data, I interviewed about 50 different colleagues across all functions and departments, did store and distribution centre walkthroughs, gathered information and benchmarked against parent company and . I also enrolled with the Global Supply Chain
    Council , where I gathered best practices, KPI’s , Information on competitors

     

  2. There were 50 different versions of the critical path each with up to 50 lines of tasks by function , by department. The break through moment , was when I inferred from the information available that defining the critical path in terms of process flow would merge all functional and departmental critical path into one. Thus a new critical path was borne.  It had only 14 steps and it was defined in terms of the process flow like strategy review meeting held, buy plan signed off, buy trip conducted etc..
     

  3. To get the buy-in of all stakeholders, I started involving them from the start; to break the functional silos, I set up a cross functional team of 14 representatives from each function.  By bringing them together they could appreciate the issues of each other and also able to provide solution and share ideas. Thus they were able to produce sensible ideas to reduce lead times.(Used DMAIC – tools as-is , to be , 5s Fishbone, Pareto Analysis)
     

  4. I also set up a communication  via e-mails, newsletters, townhall sessions for information, clarification and  addressing fears and concerns outside of the project team.  There was complete visibility of what was happening outside of the project group
     

  5. Training gaps were identified and  training plans were in place as simple as coupling a junior buyer with a senior buyer

 

 

  Results

 

  1. Created a critical path that was easy to understand and was one version of the truth.

  2. 30% reduction in lead time.

  3. Identified cost savings worth £57M

  4. Benchmarking internally and externally to set targets for improvement

  5. Recommended best practices such as VMI, SRM and forecasting

  6. Defined Metrics/KPI for monitoring performance

  7. Drastic behavioural changes, successful working of a truly cross functional team for the first time in history of the Retailer, broke silos , increased responsibility and accountability and thus improved staff performance

  8. Introduced innovative solution such as Visual Merchandising,  at home buy trip, pre pallatising, rightsizing etc

 

The change management team of a major bank had additional responsibility for running of the PMO. My assignment was to take a temporary lead of the PMO team to streamline and save it from the brink of collapse
 

Problem


It was taking too long to prepare for the monthly Project Prioritising Group meeting.  Amidst the existing resource constraints 6 of the PMO staff two were retiring, and there was no budget for replacement.  The method of collection of information from project managers was archaic and hence not accurate, Reporting was manual excel sheets, took excessive time;

 

  Approach

 

  1. I observed the activities of the PMO for about a week; had meetings with Project Managers and senior stakeholders. I also spent some time to gather information on how the PMO ran in other parts of the organisation; I firmly believed that applying the principles of lean & six sigma I could bring significant improvement to the running of PMO.
     

  2. I gave coaching on the fundamentals of Lean thinking and tools used for improvement.
     

  3.  with the input of the team I put together a value stream map, the value stream map indicated the 60% of the activities were the non-value add such us unnecessary review, too many reports, errors due to manual data entry,  delivery of reports through post etc. This indicated a possibility of t 40%  improvement the cycle; Lean tools used were 5s, % whys. Fishbone diagram, Pareto Analysis, value stream mapping etc 
     

  4. As a result, I was able to standardise information collection, eliminated reports that did not add value and where possible combined reporting, trained staff on advanced excel, minutes recording and translation methods changed, introduced a BO tool for reporting, report delivery was instantaneous
     

  5. Information gathering outside of the function led to the use of software for PM’s that enabled easier project reporting.

  Results

 

  1. The cycle time was reduced by 40% immediately and in the next two months by further 20%

  2. The KPI for error in reporting decreased to 0%

  3. Introduction to the new tool for PM's reduced PM's workload by 20%

  4. Post-Lean and after I left the PMO, the team continued to apply the lean principles and realised continuous benefits.

  5. PMO resources were freed to other work in spite of two senior staff retiring.

  6. The Change team were Leading by example for the rest of the organisation.

 

Problem


The lean back office project whose aim was to realise £2.5m cost savings by 2015 was failing which started in January; by July 2015 there was no plan to achieve the benefits. At that point in time, the project should have realised half the cost savings; this was very embarrassing for the senior management.
 

 I was asked to review and come up with suggestions for reviving the project

 

Problem


The lean back office project whose aim was to realise £2.5m cost savings by 2015 was failing which started in January; by July 2015 there was no plan to achieve the benefits. At that point in time, the project should have realised half the cost savings; this was very embarrassing for the senior management.
 

 I was asked to review and come up with suggestions for reviving the project

 

  Challenges

 

 

After initial analysis, the Lean team was trying to adopt Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control(DMAIC) approach. The identified/defined 50 to 60 back office processes; they were so low level that it has little value on its own and then they measured time in motion study to the nth degree and were stuck in the analysis phase and were guessing improvement opportunities; each of these guesses proved to be a failure. They had split the processes into subprocesses that were very disjoint and hence very difficult to identify any significant wastes and thus improvement. Also, they had not involved the branch staff 

Approach

I formed a RAPID improved team still using DMAIC lean methodology so not jumping to conclusions.
 

Involved the colleagues who were involved in the day to day branch operations

Identified four significant areas of efficiency gains of which cash handling would give the quickest benefit in the least possible time, the rest were security trials, new devices, assigned leads to manage the rest
 

My principal role was to facilitate the workshops; Used the lean tool like 5s, fishbone diagram, Pareto to facilitate the workshop; most of the improvement ideas came mainly from bank branch colleagues except for IT changes; the operations team then verified them and implemented in pilot branches successfully
 

Also created a structure around the programme, set up governance structure took responsibility for delivering the IT enhancement to the project and delivered it on time,

  Results

 

  1. Within five weeks all the low hanging fruits were identified and implemented which resulted in £2.5 m cost savings

  2.  a further £2.5M cost savings resulted through small IT changes within three months

  3. The post-implementation survey revealed improved colleague satisfaction, improved customer satisfaction

  4. 5. End Dec  2015 £5M worth cost savings achieved.

 

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