How to use lean Six Sigma methodology to improve service process in higher education: A case study

Na Li, Chad Matthew Laux, Jiju Antony

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Scopus citations


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to use a practical case study approach to demonstrate the power to use lean Six Sigma (LSS) to improve service process in a higher education institution (HEI). The paper also illustrated the barriers and challenges met and lessons learnt for the LSS adoption in this HEI. Design/methodology/approach: Prior to the study, extensive literature review was conducted to understand various aspects of LSS in HE industry. The authors use a single descriptive case study as methodology to explain how DMAIC was applied within a HEI environment. Findings: In this LSS case study, the team found HEI service process contains a large human behavior component, which dramatically increases the unpredictability of the entire service delivery process and increases the complexity of the process and the ability of the improvement team to identify the root cause. This case study demonstrates the numerous challenges will occur in working with the intangible factors that are both hard to recognize, quantify and rarely tracked by organization. Practical implications: During the research, the pre-award service process was studied, data were recorded and various statistical tool and techniques were used to discover and resolve the root cause. The lessons learnt of the LSS adoption in this service process in HEI and the problems encountered were all recorded in this study, which will be helpful for future research in HEI industry. Originality/value: From the literature review, LSS has been widely adopted in manufacturing industry, increased adoption in service, but there has been limited academic research about the implementation in nonprofit, service sectors, particular to higher education industry. The major benefit of implementation LSS in both manufacturing and service is considerable improvement to the bottom line. However, in this HEI case study, it has opened up the direction to implement LSS to better serve your customer as ultimate mission instead of financial gains.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)883-908
    Number of pages26
    JournalInternational Journal of Lean Six Sigma
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 30 Oct 2019


    • DMAIC
    • Higher education
    • Lean Six Sigma
    • Service process
    • Six Sigma


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