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Departments: Quality Applications

Air Academy Associates Lean Six Sigma Training

Increasing Customer Satisfaction
Lean Six Sigma uncovers new processes for software delivery.

You’re the security manager at a large corporation. Having received your order of 25,000 RSA SecurID tokens, you want to install the necessary software to activate them. After searching, you are unable to locate the necessary CD containing the software. You decide to call RSA for a replacement copy, which is sent immediately. You put the tokens aside because you have to wait until the CD arrives before you can activate them.

For the past four years, RSA, the Security Division of EMC, had received requests for replacement software from its customers. The percentage of replacement requests was averaging 8 percent annually. RSA had determined that the CDs were either not always arriving at the customer site in a timely manner or were being lost by the customer.

RSA diligently worked to solve this problem. Several changes were implemented; however, RSA still continued to receive requests for replacement CDs.

“Despite working on this issue for four years, we still weren’t seeing any real improvement--or decrease--in the amount of additional software requests from customers,” explains Ed Maggio, vice president of worldwide operations for RSA. “We needed to try something different. That’s when I was introduced to Lean Six Sigma.”

Maggio spoke with Steve Elbeery, RSA senior manager, worldwide technical operations, about finding a new way to solve this problem. Elbeery embarked on a Lean Six Sigma project to determine the root cause and help find a solution to the missing software issue.

The team decided to conduct a two-day kaizen event to quickly complete the define, measure, and analyze phases. These phases would normally take approximately three months.

“This event was very successful, due to the commitment of making sure the right people were in the room and dedicated for two days, away from their everyday jobs, to be part of this team,” says Steve Morelli, EMC consultant program manager, Lean Six Sigma.

“After we went through the Lean Six Sigma analysis and kicked off the project, we went through the DMAIC process,” says Elbeery. “We started by organizing the appropriate data related to this problem. It wasn’t until we did this that we realized the magnitude of this issue and finally understood the real problem.”

“With the process experts looking at the same key data, the team had what we like to call a ‘ kaizen moment,’” says Jim Natale, kaizen facilitator and Lean Six Sigma deployment manager for RSA.

The team discovered that they had been working on the wrong problem--the real issue was the physical shipment of the software on a CD and the inadvertent loss of that CD at the customer site.

“In some instances, large customers were ordering 25,000 tokens at a time and storing them in their warehouse. If the CD was in ‘box one’ of the shipment, the customer felt it was easier to call RSA for a replacement CD rather than attempt to locate that box,” says Elbeery.

“In other cases, if a box was opened upside down, it was easy to miss the red envelope taped to the cover stating ‘Customer Confidential--Media Enclosed.’ In these instances, the CD was inadvertently thrown away,” Elbeery adds.

RSA engineers were able to develop a method to securely deliver the software electronically. With this solution, the RSA customer relations desk provides the customer with a password that allows the customer to access the electronically transmitted file.

After implementing the new solution, RSA discovered that requests for replacement software had decreased from eight percent to zero. “The new electronic delivery process is working well,” says a large RSA customer. “I now have one central location to check for software files, and I can archive the files right away. This has streamlined the whole process and made it so much more efficient for the customer.”

In addition, RSA is saving approximately $200,000 annually and has gained an increase in team productivity.

“This project made us more efficient , ” adds Sidonia Conceicao, manager, customer order management for RSA in the Americas. “Internally, we came up with a better, more streamlined process. It helped our customer satisfaction while creating less rework.”

Ed Maggio was pleased with the results of the project. “We have been working on this issue for over three years. The kaizen team, using the DMAIC methodology, was able to solve this and implement a technical solution in under six months.”

EMC, which partners with Air Academy Associates, is a world leader in providing innovative ways to store, protect, optimize, and leverage information, all with the aim of contributing to an enterprise’s success.


Air Academy Associates Lean Six Sigma Training


  • Accelerated completion of the DMAIC problem-solving methodology
  • Adherence to the “Keep It Simple Statistically (KISS)” approach
  • Use of powerful rules of thumb and Excel-based software
  • Aggregation of timelier and greater benefits for the enterprise