The Department of the Army recently approved the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to become a Lean Six Sigma sustaining certifying command. This means SDDC’s Surface Warriors seeking certifications in continuous process Improvement can complete the program within the organization and up to three weeks faster than before.“We will no longer need to send our LSS projects to another Army organization for them to review, approve and certify,” said Richard Rodriguez, SDDC process improvement specialist and master black belt. “Moving forward, SDDC will be able to approve and certify all LSS practitioner candidates in house.”LSS is a process improvement methodology used by organizations to cut waste, reduce variances and mitigate production and process issues.Practitioners advance through training and are recognized by belt categories. There are three main levels of certifications classified by belt color -- yellow, green and black. Green and black-belt students attend two and four-week courses, respectively. A new green -belt online course is slated to debut later this summer, along with the updated Army Lean A3 course.In addition to learning advanced problem-solving techniques, candidates must complete a process-improvement project in order to earn their belt and Department of the Army certification.“The entire process is a journey,” said Rodriguez. “It starts off when an SDDC employee has a project idea and contacts the CPI office about the potential idea. I meet with them and sometimes their project sponsor to further discuss this idea and how we can turn it into a valid, executable project.“Once the project is complete and satisfies requirements, we start the review phase,” continued Rodriguez. “This phase is critical because we look for a continued flow of information and validated project metrics, confirm that project goals have been met and confirm any financial or operational benefits. This is all accomplished by meeting the DA required slides and standard checklists. This phase can take a few weeks.”Previously, when the review phase was complete, SDDC would send the project to another organization with DA authority for a final review and official certification, which could take up to six weeks. Now designated a sustaining certifying command, the SDDC MBB can complete the certification once the review phase is complete, significantly cutting the lead time to a week.The Army LSS Program Management Office has integrated the improvement efforts of individual commands Army-wide and championed the training necessary to make this a routine way of doing business. SDDC now joins the few commands that are self-sustaining in CPI/LSS techniques, tools, and concepts.Since the Army's LSS deployment in 2006, it has saved a cumulative $19.1 billion dollars through a number of process improvements. These financial benefits cover savings to current programs, cost avoidance in future programs and generate revenue from some reimbursable activities. The program continues to expand and has trained around 5,700 Green Belts, 2,400 Black Belts and 175 Master Black Belts.SDDC has completed a total of five LSS projects this fiscal year, four of which classified as “Quick Wins” and one Army Lean Leader project that resulted in a total cost avoidance of approximately $967,000. The command currently has nine other LSS projects in various stages, with 15 yellow, eight green and six certified black belts across the command.Now that SDDC can certify, Rodriguez hopes to see projects and belt certifications continue to increase. “From an LSS perspective, this is a win-win scenario for SDDC,” he said.If you’re in SDDC and are interested in becoming Lean Six Sigma certified, contact Richard Rodriguez at richard.l.rodriguez.civ@mail.mil.