The Kaizen Event, A Critical Component of Xerox’s Customer Experience

I have been approached several times for others to guest blog post on the Business901 blog. When approached by Xerox recently it was very difficult for me to refuse. Not because it was Xerox, but because of how Xerox is using Lean Sigma in the market place. They are one of the few companies that I know of that are using their Lean Sigma skills to improve their customers business processes. I would like to thank Cynidi and Xerox for participating in my inaugural guest blog post.

By Cyndi Quan-Trotter, Master Black Belt, Xerox CorporationCyndi Quan-Trotter

One of my first projects as a member of Xerox’s Lean Six Sigma team in 2003 was developing a way to bring the process improvement methodology to our customers. It’s a point of pride for us – we work hard to make our services as efficient and effective as possible. Xerox uses Lean Six Sigma throughout the life of a customer relationship to monitor progress, evaluate processes and make improvements where necessary.

Our approach starts at day one during the first customer conversations. We find that key stakeholders are often motivated by the potential for Lean Six Sigma to cut costs, improve productivity and make progress toward sustainability efforts. As each customer is unique, the team customizes a solution that will provide long-term results to suit that customers’ business goals.

Holding a Kaizen event is one of the most effective approaches we use with our customers. A Japanese word meaning ‘change for the better,’ a Kaizen is a type of “blitz” project – Lean Six Sigma tools and methodologies are used in a condensed time period. The event typically ranges from a few days to one week and aims to increase efficiency and eliminate waste in a focused area of the process.

A Kaizen starts with the selection of a team of individuals who have the right skills, process knowledge and authority or empowerment from management to make the changes agreed upon at the end of the event. The team is then trained on the area of focus, key metrics that can be improved and Lean Six Sigma tools that will be applicable. Resources required for the Kaizen are gathered, and team roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. A successful event is dependent on this planning and preparation, especially for the Kaizen leader. Once started, the team uses the appropriate Lean Six Sigma thinking to address workflow problems, identify non-value added steps and implement quick wins that can dramatically improve productivity.

I recently worked on a team to support our customer Sundyne, a global manufacturer of engineered pumps and compressors, as they prepared for and implemented a Kaizen to better understand the workflow in the company’s internal print center. Sundyne’s internal print center is staffed full-time by Xerox employees and prints supplemental information related to hardware including manuals and technical materials. Sundyne doesn’t consider its products complete until these data packages are in the hands of the customer, so optimizing the print processes was an opportunity to improve the customer experience.

The goal of this Kaizen was to create a lean design incorporating existing and new printing equipment that Sundyne was planning to install. The company also wanted to free up space on the floor of the print center. Each of the 18 participants, five of whom were from Xerox, had a specific skill set needed to accomplish the Kaizen in an abbreviated timeframe of 1.5 days. Within the group there was also a representative from each of the company’s departments who had the authority to approve operational changes required in order for the team to develop an actionable solution. This was a key element to the success of the Kaizen because the necessary changes could be implemented immediately without wasting valuable time seeking approval from those outside the Kaizen.

By the end of the Kaizen, the team agreed upon a proposed layout that gave Sundyne back 90 square feet in the company’s print center even when the number of devices on the floor increased, and reduced the number of employee work steps by 23.2 percent. Xerox employees on-site at Sundyne experienced less fatigue and felt more productive at their jobs, increasing satisfaction. The new efficiencies expanded the types of jobs the print center can accommodate and gave it the ability to take in more work while still meeting customer turnaround times without a reduction in the level of service.

A positive customer experience depends on ongoing support, so Xerox is dedicated to using Lean Six Sigma continually to maintain the optimized processes that give our customers a competitive edge. Being able to fix pain points is what creates a loyal customer – and we’ll continue to use Lean Six Sigma to deliver better products, enhance our service offerings and develop lasting relationships with our customers.

Related Blog Post:

Learn more about the Xerox Design for Lean Six Sigma

Design for Lean Six Sigma, The Xerox Way

Lean Six Sigma Advocacy at Xerox

4 thoughts on “The Kaizen Event, A Critical Component of Xerox’s Customer Experience”

  1. Your posts and work have been very interesting to read and learn from. Thank you. nnThe Kaizen methodology and the companies practicing it- sounds like it might be an important methodology that is missing from our lists of collaborative methodologies mind map. Please check it out and let us know if you would like to be included. n

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