Applying Six Sigma Quality Methods to Improve Customer Service Satisfaction

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A panel of thought leading global experts on manufacturing was convened by the National Academy of Engineering in 1992, and among other major findings in their report “Manufacturing Systems” [1] that panel shared their curiosity about there being “Laws of Manufacturing” and how, if found, would extend industrial engineering methods of that time. Since that time, acceptance of lean six sigma thinking and culture has profoundly and irreversibly changed our management methods. Likewise in that time frame the short comings of MRP systems of the long past, have evolved to ERP systems of today that are viewed at a minimum as beneficial to the end user. In the net-centric, ERP driven supply chains of today, we find the loudest “voice of the customer” in their sales data, and it needs to be given considerable weight in our planning. Presented here is the generalization of “Little’s Law” to a much broader utilization in operations management. That generalization is facilitated by six sigma statistical methods applied to data typically available in any contemporary ERP system, to innovate and improve operational planning to drive gains to greater customer satisfaction with the “When” of their orders.