The use of Six Sigma in the manufacturing environment is well established and has been studied in detail. Many approaches have been developed over time, and today this is a solid field that keeps building on what’s already been done. On the other hand, the transactional environment seems to be understood much more poorly by lean experts, leading to a severe lack of expertise in this area of the market.
There are various challenges in the transactional environment that are unique to it alone. For example, most processes tend to be flexible rather than following a rigid structure, and their flow is altered by various decisions along the way. On the other hand, collecting information is a more difficult task as there are typically fewer reliable sources to gather it from, and it mostly boils down to self-reporting.
It’s clear that an expert working in the transactional environment must have a fundamental understanding of the full range of tools available at their disposal, and understand how each of them can help them perform better in this kind of working environment.
Data Collection and Aggregation
It’s very important to have a good way to collect all the relevant data to the current processes, and to aggregate it in a way that makes it easily accessible to everyone who should have access to it.
Modern technology offers a wide range of tools for data collection, aggregation and retention, and you should look into integrating systems like that in your workflow on a fundamental level. Don’t rely on self-reporting for critical points, this can only lead to problems in the long run if a discrepancy is discovered.
It’s also important to make sure that data is pruned over time, and not just focus on retaining as much of it as possible. One common problem in many organizations operating in the transactional environment is that they eventually get flooded with irrelevant data and find it hard to make a viable decision.
Another critical aspect for working in the transactional environment includes the ability to use visualization tools and techniques, and understanding the flows behind them. These are not just useful for high-level leadership, but it can benefit employees at lower ranks within the organization too. When everyone can clearly see how a process flows and what the steps required to complete it are, people tend to make better decisions at each step of those processes.
And this matters because, as we described above, the transactional environment often features a good number of processes which get executed in different ways depending on current conditions, and sometimes this can be quite unpredictable. When everyone has a good way of visualizing what’s going on, decisions can be made in a way that gives predictable results.
Decision-Making Aligned with Current Processes
If you’re going to be effective in a transactional environment, you’ll need to ensure that any decisions taken in the course of executing a process are aligned with the long-term goals of that process. Using tools and enacting processes that emphasize sound decision-making will ultimately help drive forward an organization towards success. This is a point that can often be hard to get across in organizations with old preexisting processes, but it’s important to get it through, because improper decisions can quickly stack up and detract from the current efforts of the organization.
But from the perspective of a low-level employee, it can sometimes make sense to take a decision that ultimately drags the project down. This often comes down to saving time on a personal level, or even across a whole department, and while it’s clearly not beneficial to anyone, it still happens quite often.
The transactional environment presents many unique challenges that are not found in any other working environments. Those who’re already experienced applying lean principles to the manufacturing environment will have to adjust to the many intricate aspects of the field. The good news is that lean is actually very compatible with this style of work, you just need to have the right approach, and know what the best tools available for this purpose are.