What is the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt – and is it Worth Earning?
And while IT professionals are naturally inclined to streamline processes and practices where applicable, businesses are looking for proof of concept with certifications such as the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt.But what is this designation, exactly? What skills does it help develop, and what’s the direct benefit for your career? More importantly, is the Lean Six Sigma Yellow belt worth earning?
Breaking it DownLean and Six Sigma are continuous improvement strategies designed to help organizations reduce waste, eliminate items that don’t add value and enhance productivity.Both focus on the discrete, underlying processes that make up larger projects. When staff can identify inefficiencies and implement more efficient alternatives across the processes, organizations save time and money. In addition, the continuous nature of this improvement means there’s no “end” state – processes can always be made more efficient.The Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt combines two popular process improvement methods: Lean and Six Sigma. Lean got its start with auto manufacturer Toyota and uses the PCDA framework – Plan, Do, Check, Act – to help improve processes and outcomes. It also leverages the “5S” methodology of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardizes and Sustain to help continually refine best practices.Six Sigma, meanwhile, was originally defined by Motorola and uses the DMAIC method: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This methodology focuses on reducing process variation to improve outcomes and limit the chance of unexpected errors.While the acronyms and origins may differ, both approaches share the common goal of identifying problems, defining a course of action and implementing corrective strategies that improve both short- and long-term outcomes.Lean Six Sigma combines these two frameworks to deliver a comprehensive project management approach.
Lean and Green – and Yellow, and BlackWhat exactly is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt? Taking a cue from martial arts training techniques, the Lean Six Sigma framework breaks up its certifications into five “belts”: White, Yellow, Green, Black and Master Black.Earning your Yellow Belt requires no previous Lean or Six Sigma experience; Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training courses teach students to implement both PCDA and DMAIC frameworks in practice and gain the confidence necessary to assist project managers in reducing total waste.The Six Sigma Yellow Belt is a great choice for IT experts with some project experience who are looking to expand their career options and enhance their ability to identify the root cause of process problems. The White Belt, meanwhile, is designed as an introduction to the basics of both Six Sigma and Lean, while the Green, Black and Master Black levels provide advanced training for project managers and C-suite executives.
Building Your SkillsWhile there’s no course prerequisite for taking the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt test, reputable training providers can help ensure you focus on core concepts and key best practices needed to pass the certification exam. The exam itself closed-book, two hours long and includes a total of 60 true-or-false and multiple-choice questions. Candidates must score 230/300 or better to pass.While the Yellow Belt designation provides more generally-applicable knowledge than comparable entry-level IT certifications such as CompTia A+ or CCNP, this Lean Six Sigma designation offers key benefits, including:
- High value – Because Lean and Six Sigma are not process-specific, Yellow Belt skills are widely applicable. As a result, certified professionals are highly valued across multiple industries such as technology, finance, healthcare, legal, government, and marketing.
- Career options – No process is perfect. With the ability to identify root causes and implement new solutions, Yellow Belt certified experts often enjoy opportunities for advancements and promotions.
- Compliance assurance – Processes must now account for compliance expectations around consumer privacy, data use, and security. Lean Six Sigma strategies help companies quickly identify potential compliance shortfalls and deploy solutions, reducing the risk of accidental violations. As a result, Yellow Belt professionals are often sought after to help companies boost overall profitability.
The Six Sigma OutlookWith enhanced ability to spot process problems and recommend solutions, Yellow Belt career options include:
- Technical support manager – These professionals are responsible for ensuring the efficiency and compliance of IT processes and deployments at scale.
- Business optimization specialist – Optimizing processes help reduce time, resource and labor costs to drive greater productivity and profit. Business optimization specialists leverage their Yellow Belt training to support project managers in boosting process efficiency and developing new initiatives.
- Supply chain manager – With supply chains now relying on IT solutions to manage inventory logistics and track available products in real-time, process efficiency is critical to ensure companies strike the ideal balance between spending on new stock and effectively accessing what they already have. Lean Six Sigma experts are essential in the development of next-gen supply chains.