Innovation Exchange

Lean Six Sigma Training


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

North Ayrshire Council has invested in Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training over the last two years with approximately 70 staff achieving the Green Belt level and eight senior managers have completed the Champions training. In addition, a Corporate Lean Programme has been established. This corporate programme is specifically designed to:


  • Solve some real life problems across the Council resulting in significant improvement in outcomes
  • Give staff more confidence to use the tools and techniques they have learned
  • Obtain  experience of using LSS tools in practice
  • To embed the LSS approach across the Council
  • Create case studies of successful process improvement

Theme: Service Transformation

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The structured corporate programme supports Green Belts to move from understanding the theory to being confident Lean practitioners. The Green Belts are supported by the Change Team and an external consultant as they work in teams on a project.

The green belt trained staff are asked about proposals for processes they are working with on a daily basis that could be more efficient. They complete a one page Charter which outlines:


  • Why the improvement is necessary
  • What the outcome will be
  • What the challenge is
  • What the goals of the project are
  • What success will look like
  • What failure will look like


For the Corporate Programme in 2015, 20 Charters were produced and

pitched to the LSS group. The most suitable seven processes were selected. The green belts were allocated across the chosen processes, with each team being supported by a member of the Change Team and one of the Champions (Senior Managers).


All of the teams worked through the DMAIC process - Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control. A key point with LSS is that you do not jump to a solution. Time is invested in clearly understanding the problem, then capturing and analysing appropriate data to identify the actual cause of the problem. The teams documented the AS IS process and analysed what the base line was. They developed the TO BE process and some started with pilots to test those changes. Each of the teams aimed to have collected a minimum of two weeks data from the revised process ahead  of the ‘day of success’ to ensure they had robust results to back up their improved process. They were then able to present their projects to the Senior staff at the ‘Day of Success’ which allowed the teams to share their hard work and success with the ECMT.

A summary of the seven projects that have just been completed are included below.


Waste Duty Of Care: To address the duty of care and amendment process to deliver a better customer service and generate income more effectively.

  • Bin delivery time reduced from 14 days to 2.2 days
  • Overall processing time reduced from 17 days to 5 days


Timesheet Process: To reduce the duplication of effort and processing time of staff timesheets.

£35,880 savings on admin processing

  • 75% reduction in paper sheets
  • 55% reduction in non-value add and duplicate checks
  • 780 staff hours freed up by reduction in depot visits


Service User Arrears: to quickly identify when Customers are acquiring debt which risks the stability of their placement within the care home.

  • 100% of arrears notified within 8 weeks - previously 20 %
  • Cumulative picture of arrears cases monitored 4 weekly
  • Reduction of 290 days to process referrals


External Mail Project: to reduce the overall postage costs currently incurred by North Ayrshire Council

  • 20% Reduction in Mail Volume
  • 14% Reduction in Postage Costs
  • £12k saving linked to Labour and Materials
  • Now a budget saving of £200,000


Sickness Absence in CHRIS and Seemis: to record sickness absence within schools accurately and timeously

  • lag time down from 4 days to 0


“Follow up” process: to streamline how additional work is requested for a housing repairs that has already been actioned where a tradesperson attends but is unable to complete a repair

  • No access and new work jobs down from 4 days to 5 mins
  • 20% reduction in the total volume of follow up jobs
  • 28% reduction in administration time
  • The contact centre can track the request and keep customers informed


Supply of High Volume Low Cost Equipment: to streamline the supply of equipment to meet service user’s needs following a visit by an occupational therapist.

  • Community alarms - fewer journeys and freeing technicians time achieves a saving of £9k
  • Occupational Therapists - fewer journeys and freeing technicians time achieves a saving of £20k
  • Additional recycling of equipment will generate a saving of £50k

Overall, the feedback was positive with majority of comments in the “Keep Doing” section (of the group survey) or as constructive suggestions for ways to further improve the process. Things that worked well included:


  • The strong teamwork that developed despite most of the Green Belts not having known their teammates before the process started.
  • The mixed teams gave an independent view and provided challenge.
  • Keeping the projects to 12 weeks and presenting to the Chief Executive at the end ensured the teams were focused on delivering their projects.
  • The support with using the different tools and techniques that came from Colin Barr and the Change Team.
  • The market stall presentation to demonstrate the work that was undertaken by the teams.
  • The Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques.
  • The Green Belts choosing which of the initial proposals they wanted to take forward.


There were some areas that could be improved or the approach amended. These included:


  • Revise the initial selection criteria and focus more clearly on quantifiable cash savings that can be achieved by each project. Soft outcomes are also important.


To varying degrees, the team members had to deal with the conflicting pressures of the “day job” and the project work. This was particularly acute for those who were supporting a project in another directorate.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Fiona Walker

Head of Service (People & Transformation)

North Ayrshire Council

01294 324053

Case study added to site: June 2016

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