Lean Six Sigma competitiveness for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME): an action research in the Indian context

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

TQM Journal


Purpose: The aim of the article is to ascertain the challenges, lessons learned and managerial implications in the deployment of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) competitiveness to micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSME) in India and to establish doctrines to strengthen the initiatives of the government. Design/methodology/approach: The research adopts the Action Research methodology to develop a case study, which is carried out in the printing industry in a Tier III city using the LSS DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) approach. It utilizes LSS tools to deploy the strategy and to unearth the challenges and success factors in improving the printing process of a specific batch of a product. Findings: The root cause for the critical to quality (CTQ) characteristic, turn-around-time (TAT) is determined and the solutions are deployed through the scientifically proven data-based approach. As a result of this study, the TAT reduced from an average of 1541.2–1303.36 min, which in turn, improved the sigma level from 0.55 to 2.96, a noteworthy triumph for this MSME. The company realizes an annual savings of USD 12,000 per year due to the success of this project. Top Management Leadership, Data-Based Validation, Technical Know-how and Industrial Engineering Knowledge Base are identified as critical success factors (CSFs), while profitability and on-time delivery are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the MSME. Eventually, the lessons learned and implications indicate that LSS competitiveness can be treated as quality management standards (QMS) and quality tools and techniques (QTT) to ensure competitive advantage, sustainable green practices and growth. Research limitations/implications: Even though the findings and recommendations of this research are based on a single case study, it is worth noting that the case study is executed in a Tier III city along with novice users of LSS tools and techniques. This indicates the applicability of LSS in MSME and thus, the modality adopted can be further refined to suit the socio-cultural aspects of India. Originality/value: This article illustrates the deployment of LSS from the perspective of novice users, to assist MSME and policymakers to reinforce competitiveness through LSS. Moreover, the government can initiate a scheme in line with LSS competitiveness to complement the existing schemes based on the findings of the case study.

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