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Lean Six Sigma in consumer banking – an empirical inquiry

Vijaya Sunder M. (Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India) (Head – Business Process Excellence, The World Bank, Chennai, India)
L.S. Ganesh (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)
Rahul R. Marathe (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 28 May 2019

Issue publication date: 30 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The evolution of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) within the operations management theory has enjoyed significant success in both manufacturing and services. Though the applicability of LSS is evident in the services sector through various publications, academic research on the use of LSS in the Banking and Financial Services (BFS) is limited, and hence deserves greater attention. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the application of LSS in consumer banking in real-time setting.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study method is used to study the application of LSS in two consumer banks with stage 1 featuring identification of appropriate consumer banks where LSS projects could be undertaken, and suitable LSS readiness assessment was performed. In stage 2, LSS project opportunities were identified in the select banks through stakeholder engagement. Finally, in stage 3, LSS projects were executed for process improvements in a real-time setting.

Findings

The case studies provide evidence of the successful application of LSS in consumer banking and the associated multiple benefits. The extent of applicability and appropriate managerial implications in project management context are elaborated. An LSS project selection criterion is recommended as a part of the study. Further, the study explains five important managerial implications in BFS context, with an outlook for future research.

Research limitations/implications

Practitioner research shows that BFS organizations have changed their ways of working by adapting LSS over the last decade. However, the academic research concerning the applicability of LSS in BFS is apparently limited, and none of these are specific to “consumer banking.” This study serves as a strong foundation for future research in this area, which is at its nascence and upcoming in the researchers’ community. However, strong generalizations should not be made as this study is limited to two cases.

Practical implications

Since the cases are executed in the real-time setup of consumer banks, the paper has several practical implications. First, the paper confirms the applicability of LSS in consumer banking and concludes that LSS project management is merely a sub-set of LSS deployment. Second, LSS needs to be understood using a “systems thinking” perspective in order to move away from a narrow project-only approach. An LSS project selection criterion is recommended as a part of the study, which could serve as a managerial resource. Other managerial implications include effective management of stakeholders and change leadership as essential elements of LSS project management in banks.

Originality/value

LSS has been successful in the past few decades in the manufacturing and service sectors. However, its application in BFS is limited. This study illustrates the applicability of LSS in consumer banks, which deals with high volumes of data, customer bases and associated financial transactions.

Keywords

Citation

Sunder M., V., Ganesh, L.S. and Marathe, R.R. (2019), "Lean Six Sigma in consumer banking – an empirical inquiry", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp. 1345-1369. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQRM-01-2019-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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