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Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education

Boosting productivity and efficiency


Clear improvements and sustainable quality enhancements by eliminating waste and streamlining processes. Create a roadmap with staff that can identify problems and recurring issues.


Create and design student-centric, standardized solutions for repetitive work processes. This will reduce variability in outcomes, reduce cost, and eliminate "waste."


Our consultants have worked in and lead operational environments, we know what you’re up against related to change and transformation and will train your leadership for better team productivity and morale.

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When coupled with our leadership, stakeholder management and project management skills, we can truly help you make a difference in your organization.

Lean Six Sigma Approach

Soriant uses a variety of approaches to help universities and higher education institutions meet their goals. Our team works hand in hand to reduce costs and improve quality in support service areas. This is a time-consuming task to complete in addition to your regular daily operations. We have developed a detailed process to “take on the heavy lifting” to ensure your company’s success. A vital component in our strategy is the Lean Six Sigma approach. What is the Lean Six Sigma Approach? Originally developed by Toyota to build highly reliable and consistent cars. It’s been adopted by thousands of companies worldwide and is a proven catalyst for improving quality, reducing costs, and boosting employee morale. It’s sister discipline, Six Sigma, developed at Motorola in the 1980s and popularized at General Electric in the 1990s, leverages statistical tools to understand and improve business processes. Together, Lean and Six Sigma (typically called “Lean Six Sigma”) have proven to be a powerful driving force for improvement. Academia leaders across America struggle every day with operational challenges:
  • Adjusting staffing to varying volumes
  • Finding equipment and supplies when needed
Moreover, administrators are challenged to improve both staff engagement and student satisfaction in this very challenging environment. The root cause is almost always ineffective or wasteful processes that sap staff energy and deliver sub-par experiences for students. Lean Six Sigma can change that.

Five Simple Steps

lean steps

By focusing on these five steps, Soriant can dig deep into your operations, discovering strengths and weaknesses. Our experts assess improvement opportunities, resulting in sustainable quality improvements and savings to the bottom line, in universities and higher education facilities nationwide.

Step 1: Define
Defining the current problem. Soriant will meet with you and discuss your organization’s situation to recognize and define the current issue.

Step 2: Measure
Soriant will map out and assess your organization’s current state and its end goal. We will determine which KPIs will be used to measure your organization’s success and explain how your institution should collect and use this data.

Step 3: Analyze
We provide a detailed analysis to identity the root cause of your support services performance gaps.

Step 4: Improve/Implement
By working as a team, we will determine and implement a long-lasting solution. Soriant will identify improvement opportunities, so you can meet your institutions long-term goals.

Step 5: Control
The final step of the Lean Six Sigma process is to monitor and maintain the new solution. This may include using new tools or programs to sustain the process, standardizing these tools across all departments, as well as promoting an increased adoption of the process over time.

Rapid Improvement Event (RIE)

As simple as it may sound, one of the most powerful and important Lean concepts is: Respect for People. At Soriant, we firmly believe that people like working with kind, caring, and competent people. That’s why our Consultants are trained in Lean and take the time to listen to the people who do the work. No one knows the real way your facility runs better than your staff. The reality is your employees often already know how to fix many of your biggest problems. They’re just not engaged enough to tell you.

At Soriant, we use a Lean Six Sigma process of Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) to reengage staff and develop solutions that unlock the power and creativity of your workforce. We spend time in the “gemba,” the place where work is done, and involve those who do the work in designing, testing, and implementing solutions in a rapid, interactive learning environment. You might be surprised; a day on the work floor might provide more fresh ideas than ten days in a conference room.
If you want to learn more about how Soriant uses Lean Six Sigma in its engagements, please contact us. We’re excited to help you discover the innovativeness of your employees and reach your organization’s potential.

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Frequently Asked Questions
While Lean’s origins are with Toyota and the auto industry, the core principles of respecting people and focusing on the customer to improve efficiency and quality have been applied across all industries, including healthcare and education.
Absolutely not. The term “lean” comes from finding ways to meet customer needs with limited resources. Lean focuses on reducing waste in processes, but not in eliminating people. Lean philosophies focus on people as the most important part of any process.
If you have used a structured approach to problem solving like Plan-Study-Check-Act (PDSA), then you already understand the basic structure of a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) project. LSS uses DMAIC: Define, Measure, Assess, Improve, and Control to approach a project, walking the team through a proven framework to understand and address the problem. LSS brings together the power of Lean tools focused on improving efficiency by eliminating process waste and Six Sigma tools that use statistical methods to reduce process variability. Together, these tools can deliver results when other approaches come up short.

In Lean, the “gemba” is a very special place. Gemba is the Japanese term for the place where work is done. For Lean practitioners, going to the gemba to learn about and better understand your processes is essential. Processes can never truly be understood in a conference room; only by going to the gemba can you learn how value is truly delivered to your customer. If you’re not accustomed to going to the gemba, be sure to do the following:

  • Observe without judgement. You’re there to learn, not to criticize.
  • Walk the process from back to front, following the flow of the goods or services from the customer back up stream.
  • Ask questions and truly listen to the answers. Ask why things are done the way they are. And, be sure to ask people what problems get in the way of doing their job.
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