Suppose if any company’s product fails and customer complaints about it on some social media what impact it could have on that company? In a digital age where news can spread within a seconds, companies cannot afford to compromise on it’s quality.
Company’s brand may get tarnished and thereby loss of customer’s and decrease in sales and revenue.
Six Sigma can help in identifying and eliminating this defects.
What is Six Sigma ?
The name “Six Sigma” comes from statistics and is related to business efforts to eliminate defects from it’s products or services and strive for perfection. Sigma is a Greek letter (σ) that represents standard deviation ( the amount something deviates from what ideally it should be). Six Sigma aims to have six standard deviations (6σ – hence the name Six Sigma) between the mean and the nearest specification limit, or put another way to have fewer than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
The Six Sigma methodology puts systems in place to collect data and measure success. Then a business can try to reduce defects and variation in processes through improvement projects. Doing so improves quality and customer experiences, ultimately making a business more successful.
Why Six Sigma ?
It’s not a secret that General Electric saved $12 billion in their first 5 years after they had implemented Six Sigma. Today, General Electric continues to grow and is implementing the same Six Sigma proven methods into it’s GE Global Learning Team.
Some of the benefits of implementing Six Sigma:
- Increased Productivity
- Improved Quality
- Reduced Operation Costs
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Improved Communication Among Team Members
It has been proven over and over again by major players in the Fortune 500 that the Six Sigma methodology works, helping save billion of dollars in operating costs as well as increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
Essential elements of Six Sigma
There are primarily three elements of the Six Sigma system, which are:
Process Improvement – Process improvement is used to eliminate the root causes of deficiencies in the organization.
Process design (re-design) – Creating entirely new processes or redesigning existing processes that do not work properly and are beyond the scope of simple process improvement.
Process Management – This element consists of tasks such as defining processes, measuring performance, analyzing data, and more.
Many concepts of Six Sigma
Six Sigma is not just a single idea which aims to improve processes instead it takes many other concepts and methods to collectively achieve it’s goal.
Some of the best-known philosophies included in the program are-
- 80-20 principle
- Quality from customer perspective
- Quality trilogy model
- Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)
- Cause & Effect
- Effects of external disturbance
- Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve & Control (DMAIC)
Six sigma has a designed set of activities that improve efficiency and eliminate defects.
It follows two project methodologies:
It may help you to know that DMAIC is used mainly for projects aimed at improving existing manufacturing processes while DMADV, on the other hand is used for projects aimed at creating new product or process design.
Each of the acronym are described briefly below:
Define – Define the problem at hand, from both customers and process perspective.
Measure – Measure the current process and collect data.
Analyze – Involves analyzing the data collected in an attempt to determine their relationship to the problem and how to solve it.
Improve – Based on the data collected and the analysis, the problem should then be tackled so as to improve the whole process.
Control – Controlling the future state of the process to prevent any deviation from target will ensure that the process remains on course.
Define – This is the same as the one earlier except it involves defining the design goal to meet the customers’ needs and manufacturing process.
Measure – This involves identifying risks, production process capability and product capabilities.
Analyze – After creating the designs, each of them is to be analyzed, with the best possible one being picked for implementation.
Design – Once a design is chosen, it is necessary to optimize it while planning for the next phase. This step may require simulations using certain software or prototype.
Verify – The design, setup pilot runs, implement the production process and hand it over to the process owners.
Implementing Six Sigma
Whether a company already has a Six Sigma or wants to implement it for the first time, one of the best things an individual can do is get Six Sigma certification.
It is advised to implement Six Sigma under a master black belt, or at least a black belt to ensure the system is managed properly. As with any process improvement program, if it is not run properly from the top down, it could cause more harm than good. While it will take some effort, while proper implementation of Six Sigma can revolutionize a company.