Whether you know it or not, you complete hundreds of processes a day. From doing the dishes, to parking the car or getting ready for work, processes are how we get things done.
“Everything has some sort of process. And every process has a data aspect to it. You can run any type of data through the software we have and come up with solutions to inefficiencies. You can quantify it to save time,” explained Brian Whitted, BS’17. Whitted is majoring in supply chain management and finance.
“For one of our projects in class, we had to pick a process in our lives — a simple thing we do on a daily basis. I chose getting my kids ready for school in the morning – how do you streamline that process?” explained Whitted. “You can use this in anything you do.”
Whitted received a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification this semester through a course taught by Associate Professor of Operations Management Mark Frohlich.
The certificates are awarded to Kelley School of Business Indianapolis students who successfully complete process improvement projects involving local businesses.
Through nearly 600 Green Belt projects, Frohlich estimates that his students’ process improvement projects have saved companies millions of dollars over a decade of consultations at hospitals, restaurants, chain retail stores and other companies big and small.
“This course taught us how to take a process that’s inefficient, look at where inefficiencies came from and turn it into a more efficient project. We were able to pinpoint the problems in the process,” said Nic Jones, BS’17.
This semester, students chose multiple companies, and they looked at everything from lowering liquor costs, to improving the time customers wait for dessert at local restaurants, to improving downtime at a manufacturer. One group chose to take a look at university computers – analyzing how they could make them start up faster and how much they say time students waste while waiting for them to start.
Another team looked at a local taxi company, explaining they’d lost a large percentage of their business to Uber and Lyft. After crunching the numbers, the team looked at different ways to streamline the current process of finding a taxi and getting it to your doorstep, to try to help to bring back some of the monetary loss. This team recommended the company update and utilize its app to improve taxi pick-up time and also improve its dispatch system. They also recommended updating the taxis with better GPS technology and updating marketing strategies.
“The recommendations and the suggestions will really be beneficial. Not only could they compete against other companies, but they also could reduce their costs,” said student Hussein Olad.
“The monetary rewards would be huge,” explained Whitted, who also was on the team who gave suggestions and recommendations to the taxi company. “They could get a better reputation, and perhaps get some of the market share back from Uber and Lyft. The extra business they could gain from being more efficient – and better than another company – would be tremendous.”
“Just putting this on my resume is very valuable,” said Whitted. “A lot of companies have internal programs they use to teach their employees. If you already have that – it’s very beneficial. I was fortunate they offer this opportunity at Kelley.”
“It’s hard to say what a Green Belt is worth,” said Frohlich. “But I would estimate that even for undergraduates, it could add another $3,000 to $5,000 to their salaries because companies recognize and understand a Green Belt’s value. A lot of companies now pursue employees with these certificates.”
“If an accountant, for example, is a Green Belt, she may be part of an audit with manufacturing or supply chain folks who also hold Green or Black belts, and together, they can do much more for the client.”
“The dream as an instructor is to give your students a skillset so they can go do something with that knowledge,” Frohlich added. “Honestly, I can’t say that happens for every class. But with this one, it truly does.”
“Many times when you teach a class, there are exams, projects, an end-of-the-semester course evaluations, and then, it’s over. But every time I teach this class, I have students come back and say, ‘You won’t believe this. I did another project over winter break for my parents.’ Or they say, ‘I couldn’t stand the way things were with inefficiencies, so I fixed them,’” explained Frohlich.
“When you think about inspiring students, instilling lifelong learning and encouraging them to apply what they’ve learned, this is what you think about.”