A Beginner’s Guide
In the age of transformation, are you falling behind “Time”?
How do you plan to manage Quality, Cost and Schedule at the same time, before “Time” runs your business out?
Six Sigma is something you must learn in order to contribute to fulfilling the company’s requirement.
Now, is Six Sigma enough to smoothen the company’s processes by eliminating flaws? Can it really accelerate the company’s growth and extract profit?
Let us read further to get a complete answer.
How did Six Sigma come into existence?
Motorola had to come up with a plan to put an end to its grave financial trouble.
After in-depth research of the markets and processes, an engineer named Bill Smith who was working with Motorola at that time envisioned a brand new concept of quality management process or Six Sigma Process in the year 1986. After experimenting it, they realized how significant and useful this theory is at improving processes. Experiments soon turned into regular practices and soon, they documented a profit of more than $16 billion, all as a consequence of adopting Six Sigma.
Thus, Motorola decided to share Six Sigma with every company in the world that wished to adopt it in their processes. Ever since millions of companies around the globe have been considering Six Sigma as a “path of running businesses successfully”. Over the years, the same path has been spruced up and showcased into a clear, sound theory of principles. This theory called “Six Sigma” is focused on business transformation through a neatly determined process.
The most renowned organizations in the world such as Amazon, Bank of America, Boing, Dell, Ford, General Electric, etc. have proven the effectiveness of Six Sigma through their operations.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a body of quality management tools and theories devised to improve businesses by eliminating possible errors. It is a data-driven approach that practices statistical methodologies for removing deficiencies.
It teaches more than just Quality Control. It also explains Waste Reduction, Risk Management and most importantly, the importance of Great Customer Support.
Six Sigma, in a broader term, can mean so many things, but according to Motorola, Six Sigma means a fully equipped framework that mainly serves as 3 things – as a measurement system, methodology and at the same time, as a management system. Let us see how:
• Since Six Sigma has been proven to equate to 3.4 defects per one million opportunities (DPMO), the term “Sigma” is often referred to as a measurement system for the rank of ‘goodness’ or quality for any service or product. Thus, Six Sigma began as an error elimination effort in manufacturing and was applied to other business processes for the same purpose.
• Six Sigma is a business enhancement methodology that targets customer requirements for an organization. Apart from that, it focusses on the alignment of business processes to reach those requirements and data analysis to eliminate variation in the processes. The successful application of these methods is what helps an organization come closer to the utmost level of customer satisfaction.
• In order to gain the aimed changes or improvements, process metrics and structured methodology must be applied to the overall organizational strategy. As a management system, Six Sigma performs effectively for executing such a strategy. It is a solution that aligns business strategies, organizes teams’ efforts to identify and target important projects, fast-tracks positive results, and ensures the maintenance or sustainability of all these.
Six Sigma gives you clarity and reflects a strategy that transforms anything, not just businesses. You can implement the same methods to plan your daily routine or to set up a holiday schedule. Where there is a project, there is a quality of an end result. To control quality, manage risk-time-schedule, reduce cost, etc., Six Sigma methodologies are always effective.
Leaders who plan to instill a set of organized, improved, methodical processes to their businesses, use Six Sigma.
Recently, Six Sigma practitioners have combined Six Sigma ideas with lean manufacturing to design a system named Lean Six Sigma. The Lean Six Sigma methodology is focused on lean manufacturing that explains the flow and waste issues of a process with an objective of achieving the ideal “business and operational excellence”.
Even though there are similarities between Six Sigma and Lean Management with regards to tools, they are two separate programs. Both concepts are Japanese-influenced, however, share different features, for example, Six Sigma concentrates on eliminating errors and accurate data acquisition whereas Lean focuses on minimizing waste and using methodologies that contribute towards an organization’s efficiency.
Read Six Sigma vs. Lean Management to distinguish between these two systems in a better way.
Now that you know what Six Sigma is, let’s read about how it really works.
The foundational pillars of Six Sigma are these top 5 principles:
- Meeting Customer Requirements
Every organization works towards increasing
profit. Consumer when satisfied, whether internal or external, helps us meet
the final goal of reaping profitable results.
For that to happen, understanding the demands of our customers is vital, without which creating values or gaining faith from them is absolutely impossible. Establishing quality standards according to the consumer requirements is the key element of this principle.
- Data Accuracy
Asking questions to yourself and your teammates like ‘what are the areas of waste?’, ‘What are the hurdles in the current project?’ and ‘Are there any external factors involved which might create problems later?’ helps build your data stronger. Gather data to find out the specific problem area that needs to be transformed. Having clearly defined goals for the collection of data and confirming the accuracy of measurements will establish a standardized data collection system for you.
- Elimination of Variation
Once you have identified the problem, making changes in the process according to the newly acquired data is easier. Eliminating deficiencies and defects and most importantly, removing variation that leads to unnecessary contemplation is crucial. Simply put, remove what does not add value to your customer’s satisfaction. Target quality control and assurance and streamline processes to give yourself and your team a perspective.
- A Robust Six Sigma Certified Workforce
It is important that the organization provides the stakeholders, teammates with Six Sigma course or Six Sigma Certification Training. Simply because it takes expertise to contribute to the Six Sigma processes of problem-solving and streamlining. Unless your teammates understand the purpose of using Six Sigma strategies, implementing those into their team’s efforts would not be possible. The team has to be proficient in tools and methodologies that are widely utilized in Six Sigma so that operations run smoothly. Adopting a special knowledge system to train your team will only reduce the risk of project failures.
- Instilling Consistency in Quality Control
Bringing positive results and transformation is the ultimate objective here. To achieve that goal, ideally, your team must be consistent, flexible and open to changes and of course, responsive. Why? Because once you have received the results of one plan, you need to feed the next plan. The output of one process is the input of another. In order to avoid the repetitions of errors, it is mandatory to maintain quality.
Finally, before taking every step, the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘is this step bringing me any closer to the ultimate, desired Change or Goal?’
Several centuries ago, what Aristotle, a Greek Philosopher said is still relevant in this day and age – “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” and forming any habit is a continuous process, isn’t it?
So, what can help you achieve that continuity? Here are Six Sigma Models and Tools to the rescue!
DMAIC and DMADV are two of the most popular and widely used Six Sigma models.
DMAIC is beneficial for enhancing the effectiveness of your current processes, whereas DMADV is used to create and develop new products or processes.
For continuous, harmonious process functioning, these are some of the most helpful Six Sigma Tools:
- The 5S System – Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain
- Value Stream Maps – Value enabling, adding and non-value adding actions
- Pareto Chart – Distinguish between the groups of data
- FMEA – Failure Modes and Effect Analysis
- Kaizen – A practice of Continuous Improvement
- Poka-yoke – The Mistake Proofing process
Read ‘Six Sigma Problem-solving Methods’ for a comprehensive view of Six Sigma tools and models.
To become a Six Sigma certified professional is to assure your organization of your problem-solving and analytical skills.
There are diverse kinds of tests to check your knowledge of Six Sigma. If you are planning to opt for a Six Sigma course, you need to first check your profile’s suitability with the Six Sigma Certification you are aiming at.
What is the nature of your work and opting for which Six Sigma Belt Certification will be suitable for you?’
- Yellow Belt – Participates as a team member in a project. He/ she reviews process improvements that can support the project.
- Green Belt – Works with the data collection process and analyzes or studies Black Belt projects. Leads Green Belt teams.
- Black Belt – Leads problem-solving projects or teams. Trains and coaches Green Belt project teams.
- Master Black Belt – Trains Black Belts and Green Belts. Operates at the Six Sigma program level by designing key metrics and strategic directions. Acts as a Six Sigma technologist and internal consultant.
To sum up, proactive usage of Total Quality Management system leads to successful overall quality operations in the organizations. Satisfied customers, motivated team members, and increased profits these are some of the factors that make us believe that adoption of Six Sigma is the best and most effective business support that we can always rely on.
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