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Accenture helped a leading global retailer implement a continuous improvement program that has generated benefits of $883 million, and is generally equipping the company to achieve high performance.
One of the world’s top retailers has implemented a dramatic continuous improvement program that is spurring ongoing growth and cost reductions. The key was enhancing the company’s existing continuous improvement program by providing project and program teams with leading-edge process-improvement skills.
According to the CEO, “It all comes down to operational excellence. Executing our growth strategy by developing a better, stronger operating model is key. Striving for 100 percent process efficiency is transformational.”
The company also leveraged Accenture. In addition to offering operational excellence and continuous improvement programs, Accenture is a leader in Lean Six Sigma, which combines proven Six Sigma approaches to quality improvement and waste minimization with new technologies and processes focused on accelerated implementation. In effect, Lean Six Sigma integrates speed (Lean) and quality (Six Sigma).
The project began in the first half of 2007 with a “proof of concept” pilot program based on Lean Six Sigma principles. Central to this effort was positioning continuous improvement as an organization-wide capability with specific, documentable behaviors and an end-to-end process view of the organization.
Working with select client professionals, Accenture team members defined and identified key functions, programs, projects and individuals associated with process areas such as corporate purchasing, store ordering, distribution and Internet shopping. These high-impact processes were reinvented, redesigned or upgraded.
New levels of integration across processes were also achieved. Accenture professionals then helped develop formal Lean Six Sigma-based training and coaching programs for enhancing process expertise.
In 2008, savings resulting from the program reached $883 million. The robustness and repeatability of the Lean Six Sigma methodology was cited as a key contributor to this achievement—a direct result of the programs and projects delivered by client employees who had been trained in Lean Six Sigma.
Equally impressive, these benefits were achieved across the business: from negotiations and price reductions in commercial and corporate purchasing, to the delivery of improvement targets within individual functions.
In addition, more growth and cost benefits are imminent, given the company’s improved ability to standardize and integrate processes, better understand customers’ needs and respond to shifting markets.
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