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Due to globalization and instant access to information, customers conduct our business by designing products and services by their needs and wants — old business models no longer works here. In today’s competitive environment there is no room for errors. To overcome all of these issues “Do it right the first time”. We must relentlessly delight our customers and look for creative thoughts to exceed their expectations. Six Sigma is a quality management philosophy developed by engineer Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986 to improve business processes. Six Sigma emphasizes setting extremely high objectives. Six Sigma collects data and analysing results to interpret and reduce defects in products and services. Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process which helps us focus on design and development where it delivers products and services on high perfection.
Why it is called as Six Sigma (6σ)?
Sigma is a Greek letter which denotes variation from a standard. Six Sigma philosophies are that, it should not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities where its opportunities refer to the chance of not meeting the specified quality standards. At many organizations, the Six Sigma process is used as a quality measuring tool to strive for perfection. This means we have to be very keen in executing flawless processes. Six Sigma had to be made as a vision and also as a part of our business culture.
Six Sigma is a focused and organised approach which will redefines all our process for long term results. It is a data driven decision making tool focused on customer requirements. It will become ingrained in work and thought process and will always relies on evidence based solutions. It offers organizational benefits like competitive edge, service excellence. Empower staffs, leadership development and Quality/ safety. Six Sigma methodologies aimed at Error reduction and Eliminating variation. Our Customers feel the Variance, Not the Mean. Customers don’t judge us on average quality product we produce; they feel the variance in each product we ship. Six Sigma is focused on reducing variation in process and improving the process capability.
Six Sigma Processes:
DMAIC – (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control) is a methodology for root cause analysis. DMAIC should be used when there is problem and the root cause is unknown. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of Six Sigma DMAIC:
Define: We have to define all the following parameters such as; who are the customers and what are their Requirements (CTQs)? Develop a problem Statement, goals and benefits out of it; identify champion, Process owner and Team. Define resources and evaluate key organizational support which will help us to develop project plan and Milestones and high level process map.
Tools used to define: Process Flowchart, Project Charter, CTQ Definitions, SIPOC Diagram, Work Breakdown Structure, Stake holder Analysis, Voice of the Customer Gathering.
Measure: Measure current performance with the predefined standards; quantify the problem. Determine how the process currently performs; find out the deviation and problems in standards. Once the team has determined the root cause, they must consider where to get the data, how much to get and who will be collecting. Come with a well-defined data collection plan. It is critical; ensure data collected must be accurate and reliable. Once the data collection conducted we will have more details around process performance, root causes and potential goals. This data is will help you define Charter more accurately to describe the issue.
Tools used: Benchmarking, Cause & Effect Diagram, Value Stream Mapping, Project Charter
Analyse: We can review our collected data during the Measure Phase; this will lead us to analyses both the data and the process to evaluate the root causes of waste and defects. By verifying and examining detailed process we can list concerns or vital points within the process. We can determine the value of each step by undergoing Process Analysis which comprises:
Time Analysis: We can find out the deviation on proposed time on particular process against the actual time taken to complete the process by figuring out idle and busy time.
Value Added Analysis: Discover new dimension to current process by avoiding unwanted steps without affecting its value in customer perspective.
Value Stream Mapping: Correlates process data with value-adding analysis to determine where Waste can be removed.
Tools used: Histogram, Time Series/Run Chart, Pareto Chart, Scatter Plot, Regression Analysis, Fishbone Diagram, Process Map Review and Analysis.
Improve: Once we are satisfied with the data and determined that additional analysis how we are going to fix the problem? We need to move on to solution development. Creative idea generation will help us to solve solution rapidly; Out-of-the-box solutions will help us to serve the customer better. Go for the practical solution which is more feasible for our organisation. Obtaining ideas from stake holders is the easiest way PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle will help to refine the ideas collected. These cycles will let us know either a small improvement in any process will give a huge results in viable a way.
Tools used: Brainstorming, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Mistake Proofing, Pugh Matrix, QFD/House of Quality, Simulation Software.
Control: Ensure the proposed process is being managed and monitored properly. Developing a solution is easier than sustaining in it. We need to come up with a structure to document what we exactly planned to pass it to the employees who work within the process. Monitor on stake holders whether the new executed process improvement has a favourable impact for our organisation. In order to maintain this focus, the team must list down the measurements they want to maintain for ongoing monitoring of the process performance. This should be accompanied by a response plan indicating the desired levels at which the process should operate and indicate what if process should exceed those levels. This will lead to continuous process improvement.
Tools used: Control Plan, Cost Savings Calculations, Response Plan, Process Sigma Calculation Control Chart and Documentation.