Five industries that can benefit from lean and six sigma

14 June 2021 3 min. read

Since their early beginnings in automotive, Lean and Six Sigma have grown into one of the most applied performance improvement methodologies. While Lean and Six Sigma may stem from manufacturing, the principles apply equally to other industries. Richard Guest, a partner at Time Consulting Group, share five sectors that can also benefit from the two methodologies. 


Instilling a Lean culture and implementing Lean processes vastly improves service delivery. In the healthcare industry specifically, the application of Lean can reduce the amount of time nurses spend looking for wheelchairs, patient records or medicines, and increase the amount of time they spend taking of patients. Preventative maintenance of equipment and a Lean 5s workplace organisation helps ensure the right tools are available when needed.

Lean and Six Sigma can also be applied to the laboratory. Lean can be used to streamline testing processes, and Six Sigma can be applied to reduce errors, therefore saving time and money.

Five industries that can benefit from Lean and Six Sigma

Financial and legal services

As another process-driven service industry, companies in financial and legal services are ideally positioned to leverage the benefits of Lean and Six Sigma. An application for a bank loan, a request for an insurance quote, or conveyancing for example, may go through many systems and hands before the process is completed. Removing non-value adding tasks and eliminating errors can greatly increase the ability to meet customer requirements faster and more accurately.


On the surface, education and Lean and Six Sigma may seem incompatible. However, many of the activities that go into providing an education are repeatable processes. 

The demand for schools to operate more efficiently and direct more resource to the classroom means Lean and Six Sigma methodologies are becoming more and more recognised in education. They can be used to reduce variance and streamline administrative processes, such as admissions and enrollment, certification, grant administration and repair and maintenance practices. And Lean and Six Sigma can even be utilised to get the most out of teachers and students. 

Retail and hospitality

The retail and hospitality industry is reliant on excellent customer service, timely delivery of products, and accurate inventory counts. Lean and Six Sigma provides a useful strategy for improving these important elements. 

Global retailers such as Amazon, Nike and Staples have all applied the principles of Lean and Six Sigma to their business models with great success. Leveraging Lean and Six Sigma means better outcomes for customers, and more sales as a result. 

Office-based businesses

Lean and Six Sigma can easily be applied to office environments where lots of non-value adding tasks are being carried out. Insufficient equipment, over-ordering of stationery, duplicating processes, having to wait for multiple signatures and underutilised personnel are all examples of waste. The result of removing this waste and streamlining processes is greater productivity, a happier workforce, and a better service for customers. 

In fact any administrative function of a business can benefit from Lean and Six Sigma, such as accounting, operations, sales, marketing, human resources and IT. Delivery in all these areas involves processes which can be improved with Lean and Six Sigma principles.