The Six Sigma Methodology can be defined as one of the many highly controlled approaches in process management. It helps companies boost their profits and trim down on costs. With the use of Six Sigma Methodology, companies are able to produce the finest products and services, higher proceeds and retain more satisfied customers.
The Six Sigma Methodology was originally instituted by the American telecommunications company Motorola Inc. in 1986. After a Japanese firm took over a Motorola factory that produced television sets in the United States in the late 1970s, the firm set about in effecting radical changes to the processes and ways the factory operated. Thus, under the Japanese leadership, Motorola factory began producing TV sets that had 1/20th of the original Motorola management’s number of defects. This prompted the company to commit to focusing on quality.
Although Six Sigma was first established by Motorola Inc., the Six Sigma quality system was better known through General Electric’s (GE) extensive application of its principles. In 1996, then Chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch enforced and applied Six Sigma in the company’s processes. He also made it a prerequisite for advancement in the company. Welch was adamant and insisted that anyone who would like to be considered for a management position at GE must at least have Green Belt training by the end of 1998.
The Six Sigma Methodology was originally intended and focused for the purpose of quality improvement, this methodology is one of the most common business improvement strategies used today. The idea of using the Six Sigma Methodology in business process improvement came about when managers and analysts recognized that there are many possible improvements that can be done as well as many ways to make processes more efficient.
Benefits of The Six Sigma Methodology
In today’s world, there are many benefits of Six Sigma Methodology as a tool and strategy to tackle different problems and issues. The main advantage of using Six Sigma though, is the reduction of defects that may reach the customers. However, other benefits of using this methodology include:
- Focus on customers and consumers
- Increased and stronger customer loyalty
- Reduce cycle time
- Minimize waste
- Decisions based on data
- Efficient time management
- Continuous gains and improvements
- Systematic method of problem solving
- Maintains employee motivation
- Products can be marketed in less time
- Fosters team building
- Enhanced customer relations
- Secures strategic planning
- Lessens number of incidents
- Quantify value in accordance with customers’ needs and specifications
- Superior safety performance
- Better understanding of processes
- Efficient supply chain management
- Ease of designing and redesigning of products and services
- Greater knowledge and understanding of competition and competitors
- Develop leadership skills
- Eliminates barriers between different departments and functions
- Management training
- Improve presentation skills
- Incorporation of services, products and distribution
- Utilization of standard operating procedures
- More sound decision making
- Improve project management skills
- Sustained and continuous improvement
- Ensures alignment with vision, values and strategy
- Bigger margins
- Larger market share
- Supervisor training
- Minimize costs to provide goods and services
- Lessens customer complaints
Types of Six Sigma Methodologies
There are two known types of methodologies applied in Six Sigma projects. The simplicity of the two methodologies makes its implementation in any organization possible. The two methodologies are DMAIC and DMADV. Both methodologies can be best described by dissecting the meaning of the acronyms.
When the aim is to improve current business processes, DMAIC is the methodology used. The letters of the acronym defines the steps that need to be done in order to implement it.
- Define: This phase of the methodology consists of identifying the goals and sub-goals of the project, creating a plan to achieve these goals and project-planning to enhance functioning.
- Measure: This phase of the methodology comprises of collection of relevant data, determination of metrics or variables based on data and other information. This phase basically entails taking measurement of vital characteristics of the current process.
- Analyze: In this phase, deficiencies or defects are studied closely to find out the ‘Cause and Effect’ relationship. This step of the methodology ensures that any and all factors are thoroughly evaluated and establishes the root causes of the different defects in the current process.
- Improve: This phase utilizes the data collected and measurement analysis done in the previous phases. The current process is enhanced by eliminating the root cause of defects through the employment of better techniques.
- Control: In this phase continuous monitoring and control of process is done to ensure zero defects in products and services.
Also known as DFSS or Design for Six Sigma, DMADV is aimed and used in projects that create process or product designs. A project team uses DMADV type of Six Sigma Methodology when their goal is to produce a process or product that best suits the consumers’ needs. Like DMAIC, the steps and phases of DMADV can be described by defining each of the letters in the acronym.
- Define: In this phase of the DMADV type of methodology, the goals that meet the business needs of the organization in conjunction with the customers’ needs or demands are determined.
- Measure: The measure phase in this Six Sigma methodology is when the team identifies and measures the characteristics or variables Critical To Quality or CTQ. This is also when customer needs, customer specifications and product capabilities, risk factors and others are determined.
- Analyze: Alternative processes are created and analyzed. These processes are designed to meet customer specifications and needs. After analysis, the design that best meets the requirements of the process, product, and customer specifications is selected.
- Design: This phase is where the best design selected from the previous phase is created, optimized and carefully planned.
- Verify: In this phase of this type of methodology, the process design’s performance and capability to meet or answer the customer needs and specifications is verified.