Army Employs Lean Six Sigma Downrange to Help Cut Costs
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Army Employs Lean Six Sigma Downrange to Help Cut Costs
What is it?
The Army has incorporated the principles of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) into its sustainment operations. LSS combines the principles of Lean - reducing and eliminating non-value activities - with Six Sigma - reducing variation and increasing quality - to improve process effectiveness and alignment with customer requirements.
The Army adopted LSS in 2005 for improving processes to gain efficiencies and effectiveness. Currently, the Army is supported by the Lean Six Sigma Program Management Office, within the newly created Office of Business Transformation (OBT). The OBT and Dr. Joseph Westphal, the Army chief management officer, have embarked upon one of the largest enterprise-wide deployments of LSS in an effort to institutionalize the tenets of continuous process improvement.
What has the Army done?
LSS has supported the Army in theater with assets, primarily master black belts - senior level specialists - since early fall 2009. U.S. Forces face many logistical challenges with the drawdown in Iraq and the subsequent build-up of forces in Afghanistan. The Army is responsible for millions of resources shipped to and from the area of operations. With the removal of billions of dollars in resources from Iraq, the simultaneous demand for resources in Afghanistan, and constraints in transportation and storage space, the Army needed and recruited LSS analysts to seek the most efficient and effective processes possible.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army has tasked the LSS team to increase the velocity and throughput of materiel and personnel in theater. LSS improves the effectiveness of the fighting force by focusing on the needs of the warfighters. By eliminating friction points and improving flow, resources are then freed up and costs reduced. It's a win-win model that is expected to deliver billions in cost savings and avoidance in 2010.
Why is this important to the Army?
On the battlefield, processes are continually evolving and the data is constantly updated. The LSS methodology could identify billions of dollars that could be redirected to support Soldiers and Families across the Army. In 2009 Commanders and staffs in theater reported a $3.8 billion cost-avoidance and savings, due in large part to the LSS methodology and their commitment to resource informed decision making. 2010 is the first year since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 that costs decreased from the previous year.
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