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Compelling stories

Directed Studies projects support hands-on student learning while helping industry partners solve critical problems.

Reducing customer returns at Staples Advantage

In order to decrease customer returns, Brandon Cheung and Roy Li, 2nd year Operations Management students from the BCIT Business Operations Management program, conducted a study of the customer return process at Staples Advantage from March 23rd to May 12th, 2010. The purpose of the study was to identify and define the mechanisms which accounted for the most returns in order to assist the internal Six Sigma Black Belt (SSBB) Project Team with the Define and Analyze stages. The project team became an integral part of the SSBB Team, the first for Staples Advantage in Canada.

The study gathered and analyzed data from Staples Advantage’s customer and product data base and also from customers themselves. This allowed the team to develop a cause and effect diagram of the potential underlying reasons for returns and suggest the root causes (those causes that accounted for the majority of returns). The team worked with several internal departments to conduct a pilot project to verify the root cause analysis. Based on the pilot project, the Team made several recommendations focused on three key areas:

  • An extended pilot project to increase data confidence
  • Opportunities to improve data collection and analysis
  • A recommended approach to achieving the SSBB Team’s overall goal.

The original goal of the internal SSBB project was operational savings of $1 million; however, the student team was successful in identifying opportunities for potential savings of approximately $2 million.

“The BCIT Operations Management students integrated very well into the Six Sigma project” stated David Muncaster, Manager, Continuous Improvement, “their approach was systematic and their conclusions are directly applicable. In fact, the successful projects we have completed with BCIT School of Business students has led several other Staples Advantage Divisions across North America to seek similar relationships in their areas…we now have other SSBB leaders wondering: ‘How can we get some of those great students!'”

Working together to solve economic challenges: cross-disciplinary projects

Economic Impact of BCIT on British Columbia [PDF]

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