Total Quality Management
Vol. 16, No. 10, 1179 –1191, December 2005
Implementation of TQM and Lean Six
Sigma Tools in Local Government:
a Framework and a Case Study
SANDRA FURTERER & AHMAD K. ELSHENNAWY
Department of Industrial Engineering & Management Systems, University of Central Florida, USA
ABSTRACT While TQM is an organization-wide approach, aimed at improving the quality of
products and services and mainly focused on continuous improvement, Lean Six Sigma is an
approach focused on improving quality, reducing variation and eliminating waste in an
organization. The concept of combining the principles and tools of Lean Enterprise and Six
Sigma in a more synergistic manner has occurred in the literature over the last several years.
The majority of TQM and Lean Six Sigma applications have been in private industry, focusing
mostly on manufacturing applications. The literature has not provided cases of Lean Six Sigma
programmes applied to local government. This paper presents some efforts of implementing TQM
tools in local government and a case study of applying Lean and Six Sigma tools and principles
to improving the quality and timeliness of providing local governmental services.
KEY WORDS : Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, process improvement, quality management, Total
Lean Six Sigma is an approach focused on improving quality, reducing variation and eliminating waste in an organization. It is based on the concept of combining two improvement
programmes, Six Sigma and Lean Enterprise. Six Sigma is both a quality management
philosophy and a methodology that focuses on reducing variation, measuring defects
and improving the quality of products, processes and services. The concept of Six
Sigma was developed in the early 1980s at Motorola Corporation. Six Sigma was popularized in the late 1990s by General Electric Corporation and their former CEO Jack
Welch. Lean Enterprise is a methodology that focuses on reducing cycle time and
waste in processes. Lean Enterprise originated from the Toyota Motor Corporation as
the Toyota Production System and increased in popularity after the 1973 energy crisis.
The term ‘Lean Thinking’ was coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones in
Correspondence Address: Sandra Furterer, Department of Industrial Engineering &Management Systems,
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816-2450, USA. Email: email@example.com
1478-3363 Print=1478-3371 Online=05=101179–13 # 2005 Taylor & Francis
S. Furterer & A. K. Elshennawy
their book, Lean Thinking (Womack & Jones, 1996). The term ‘Lean Enterprise’ is used to
broaden the scope of a Lean programme from manufacturing to embrace the enterprise or
entire organization (Alukal, 2003).
Six Sigma uses the DMAIC problem solving approach, and a wide array of quality
problem solving tools. Use of the tools varies based on the type of process studied and
the problems that are encountered. There are many tools in the Lean tool set that help
to eliminate waste, organize, and simplify the work processes.
Lean Six Sigma Applications in Private Industry
The concept of combining Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma principles began in the
middle to late 1990s, and quickly took hold. There are many examples of manufacturing
companies implementing a combined effort of Lean and Six Sigma. An early example,
starting in 1997, was by an aircraft-engine-controls firm, BAE Systems Controls, in
Fort Wayne, Indiana. They blended Lean-manufacturing principles with Six Sigma
quality tools (Sheridan, 2000).
Another early innovator combining Lean and Six Sigma was Maytag Corporation. It
implemented Lean Sigma in 1999. They designed a new production line using the
concepts of Lean and Six Sigma (Dubai Quality Group, 2003).
Lean Six Sigma has been implemented at Northrop Grumman, an Aerospace Company.
They had already begun to implement Lean Thinking when they embarked upon their Six
Sigma program. They integrated the Workout events (a problem-solving process developed at GE) with the Lean Thinking methods and Kaizen events (McIlroy &Silverstein,
Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems reduced costs, improved competitiveness,
customer satisfaction and the first-time quality of all its manufactured goods. They had
separate Lean and Six Sigma projects, depending on the objective of the project and the
problem that needed to be solved (Kandebo, 1999).
Lean Six Sigma Applications in the Public Sector
The majority of the applications of Lean Six Sigma in the literature have been in the
private sector, mostly in the manufacturing industry and typically in larger companies.
Many experts in Lean and Six Sigma suggest that the tools can be used in
non-manufacturing settings including: software development, service industries such as
customer service call centres, education, in administrative functions such as accounting
and order processing, material procurement, and new product development (Bossert &
From a review of the literature, there was no evidence found of local governmental entities using a combined approach of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma. There are some
examples of local governmental entities applying Six Sigma principles and tools.
An example of a city government applying Six Sigma principles to improve customer
service and increase the effectiveness of their services is the City of Fort Wayne,
Indiana (City of Fort Wayne, 2002).
The City of Coral Springs, Florida won the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award in 1997
and again in 2003, being the first repeat winner of the award. The Florida Governor’s
Sterling Award is based on the Malcolm Baldrige criteria of leadership, strategic planning,
TQM and Lean Six Sigma Tools in Local Government
customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process
management and business results. The Malcolm Baldrige criteria are nationally recognized as standards of organizational excellence (City of Coral Springs, 2003).
The City of Kingsport Tennessee received a Good Works Initiative grant from the
American Society for Quality (ASQ). The goal of the Good Works Initiative is to transfer
Quality knowledge to not-for-profit, community-based organizations. A grant was
provided to the City of Kingsport to reduce costs and improve the service reliability of
trash collection (American Society for Quality, 2002)
Although the literature does not provide cases of Lean Six Sigma programmes in local
governments, there is evidence in the literature of applications of quality principles
and tools in the public sector. Boyne &Walker (2002) studied how TQM was used in
private and public organizations and whether TQM helped to improve performance in
A study by Hellein and Bowman investigated the impact of the implementation of
quality management in four Florida state government agencies. Although only four
agencies were studied, the research demonstrated that even though it may be difficult to
deploy quality management in public organizations, it is possible (Hellein &Bowman,
A study in the UK investigated the use of quality management in the public sector and in
the private service sector. Quality management efforts in the public sector in the UK
appear to be widespread within the public organizations that they surveyed (Redman
et al., 1995).
There are few long-term examples in the literature of mature quality programmes and
the application of quality principles and tools in the governmental sector. Surveys indicate
that large numbers of agencies at all levels of government have adopted quality programmes, but it is not clear whether many of them have moved beyond the initial
stages with a strong commitment to making quality a way of life on an on-going basis
(Poister & Harris, 2000; Hyde, 1997).
Lean Six Sigma Application in a Local Government: a Case Study
Lean Six Sigma can improve the efficiency of processes, improve the quality of service
delivery to citizens, and reduce the costs of providing these services. The authors
applied Lean Six Sigma tools and principles to the financial administration processes in
a local governmental entity. These tools streamlined the processes and reduced the time
to complete the financial processes.
The financial processes include payroll, purchasing and accounts payable, accounts
receivable, and monthly reconciliation, in a 7000-citizen municipality. The Finance
Clerk generates paycheques every two weeks for the city employees. The processing
also includes pension matching, making pension payments and reporting. The payroll
department also processes income tax payments, garnishments, child support and other
withholdings to the appropriate agencies. The customers of the payroll process are internal
city employees and external agencies that receive withholding payments and reports. The
initial or current processes are inefficient, error-prone, lengthy, and have an extensive
number of non-value added steps. The entire payroll, pension reporting, and withholding
payment process takes between 13 to 70 employee hours per pay period, depending on
whether processing problems occur.
S. Furterer & A. K. Elshennawy
The purchasing and accounts payable processes enable the city personnel to purchase
materials, products, and services to run the city. Purchase requisitions are generated by
personnel, the Finance Clerk generates the purchase order, which is then approved by the
City Manager, the Finance Director, and city council, and if necessary. Invoices are received
by the Finance Director and processed by the Finance Clerk, with the appropriate approvals
and signatures. The current state purchasing and accounts payable processes are inefficient,
error-prone, lengthy, and have an extensive number of non-value added steps. Payments to
vendors are frequently late. Multiple invoices for the same payment are frequently received
and must be reviewed to determine if they have been paid. The up front purchasing process
takes approximately seven to ten days to generate and approve the purchase orders after the
approved purchase requisition is received. The purchase orders are then filed until the
invoices are received. The entire accounts payable process takes approximately two
weeks to process a batch from initial invoice receipt to vendor payment.
The Finance Clerk records revenue receipts and deposits revenue cheques into the bank.
In the current process there is a lag between when the revenue cheques are received in the
Finance Department and when they are entered into the financial system and deposited into
the bank, due to process inefficiencies, and workload capacity issues.
The Finance Clerk is responsible for reconciling the financial records on a monthly
basis. Reconciliation includes comparing the bank statements for the payroll account,
a general account, and several investment accounts to the financial system entries. Due
mainly to either process inefficiencies or workload capacity issues, or both, monthly
reconciliation currently is rarely performed in a timely manner. Sometimes the Finance
Director reconciles the books, and other times it is outsourced to an accountant.
The Six Sigma problem solving approach (DMAIC), along with quality and Lean tools
were used to improve the financial processes. A successful implementation of the Lean Six
Sigma problem solving approach and quality and Lean tools will be measured by the
reduction of process inefficiencies, the reduction of the time it takes to process the financial transactions, and the assignment of appropriate staffing levels to handle the workload.
No quantitative or qualitative measures of process or quality characteristics exist for any of
the financial processes.
DMAIC in Local Government
The DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) problem solving methodology
from the Six Sigma approach was used to improve the financial processes. Application of
each phase in improving the financial processes will be presented in the following
The goal of the define phase of the DMAIC Six Sigma problem solving process is to define
the need for improving the financial processes. The following section will describe the
activities performed within each phase of the DMAIC problem solving approach, and
the Quality tools applied within each phase.
(1) Define process improvement need
The Finance Director identified the need to streamline the financial processes, and was the
TQM and Lean Six Sigma Tools in Local Government
Table 1. Team mission, roles and responsibilities
Document the current financial processes to create desktop procedures and to identify and implement
financial process improvements.
Finance Clerk as Process Owner
Finance Director as Project Champion
Team Quality Facilitator as Black Belt
Provides process knowledge and identifies and
implements improvement opportunities
Establishes team mission and goals.
Provides project team resources and support.
Provides team facilitation.
Provides technical quality and Lean tool knowledge.
Provides best practice for financial processes.
Collects process data.
Identifies improvement opportunities.
Provides business knowledge and direction.
(2) Identify department goals, project scope, objectives and project plan
The Team Quality Facilitator, the Process Analyst, and the Consulting Manager
interviewed the Finance personnel to understand the financial department goals, the
project scope and objectives. The team created a project plan with activities, a timeline,
and resources. Table 1 identifies the team mission, and team members’ roles and
(3) Form process improvement team
A process improvement team was formed, consisting of the Finance Director, the Finance
Clerk, and a Team Quality Facilitator that performed the role of a Black Belt, a Process
Analyst and a Consulting Manager. The Team Quality Facilitator, the Process Analyst
and the Consulting Manager were hired from an external consulting firm.
The goal of the measure phase of the DMAIC Six Sigma problem solving process is
to understand and document the current state of the processes to be improved, and
identify the process problems that are causing inefficiencies and errors and their root
causes. The activities performed and tools applied during the measure phase are discussed
(1) Profile current state
We used process flow chart analysis to map the current state processes. These flow charts
identified the steps involved in the Finance Department activities related to the financial
processes. We noted various system functions used to perform these processes within
the process flows. We identified the written (of which few existed) and unwritten policies
S. Furterer & A. K. Elshennawy
Table 2. Estimated processing times
Payroll and Pension Reporting
13 to 70 hours
30 to 40 hours per batch (only about half
of the due invoices are processed
every other week).
40 to 80 hours (including delay due to
workload capacity issues)
40 to 80 hours (if performed)
that governed the processes. We identified if any process measures existed, which they did
not. The Finance Clerk estimated the average and range of the processing times based on
her experience with the processes. The estimated processing times are displayed in
We profiled the people and cultural state to understand the level of skills and training of
the employees, and their resistance or acceptance levels to change. At the start of the
project, the Finance Clerk was very resistant to change. As the project progressed, she
became very receptive to the improvement ideas because she saw how it would help
her get her work done more quickly and with fewer errors. She also enjoyed getting the
attention related to the improvement effort. The Finance Director was very receptive to
change and the improvement effort. He embraced the vision of improved and streamlined
We profiled the technology to determine if the financial system was meeting their needs.
They had implemented the system about six months prior to the project starting, and there
were many training issues related to the software. There were also some inefficient information system flows required by the software applications. Ad-hoc financial reporting
capability was difficult, time consuming, and required extensive knowledge of data
tables and query ability.
(2) Identify problems that contribute to process inefficiencies and errors
The project team used the process flow charts and several Lean tools, including waste
identification and elimination, standardization of operations to identify and eliminate
non-valued added activities, and good housekeeping (part of the 5Ss) to identify
process problems, such as, inefficient sorting and filing of purchase orders and invoices.
We also used brainstorming to identify problems.
(3) Identify root causes of problems
We used Cause and Effect analysis to identify root causes related to people (such as lack of
training, and skills), methods (lack of standardized procedures), information technology
(information system human factors and processing flow was confusing and inefficient),
and hardware (broken and inefficient printers). A Cause and Effect diagram is presented
in Figure 1.
TQM and Lean Six Sigma Tools in Local Government
Figure 1. Cause and effect diagram
The goal of the analyse phase is to analyse the problems and process inefficiencies and
define improvement opportunities. Also, part of the analyse phase is to perform a cost–
benefit analysis to understand whether the improvements are too costly compared with
the estimated benefits to improve productivity and quality.
(1) Analyse gaps from best practice
We identified gaps comparing the current state processes to best practice financial processes. We used Pareto Analysis to understand the vendor purchase patterns to potentially
streamline the number of vendors across city departments. Figure 2 shows the number of
vendors by the year-to-date dollar volume. There are over 250 vendors with year-to-date
(through August) dollar volume of activity less than $500. We used our understanding of
financial processes and the concepts of Lean principles and the process flow charts to
identify non-valued added activities, especially related to unnecessary work and
rework. We used the concept of implementing improvements that would prevent problems
and rework due to printer jams, and inefficient use of the technology to reduce the financial
processing time. We performed an analysis of reported financial information system
problems using Pareto Analysis and Statistical Process Control Charts to identify
employee training and knowledge gaps with respect to the financial and administrative
information system. Figure 3 shows the reported information system problems organized
Figure 2. Vendors by year-to-date dollar volume
S. Furterer & A. K. Elshennawy
Figure 3. Pareto chart of information system problems
by resolution category. This chart shows that training problems contributed to 54% of the
reported problems. Figure 4 shows the moving range control chart of the time (in hours)
that it took the software vendor to resolve reported information system problems. An individual chart was also used, but not shown here. The control charts showed that problems
with the system contributed to process inefficiencies.
(2) Identify improvement opportunities and develop an improvement plan
We identified improvement opportunities that we grouped as Lean categories: standardized proc ...
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