What is Six Sigma? - Everything you need to know

Six Sigma defines management tools and techniques, that where designed to help companies with improving their business delivery, by reducing errors. Therefore, main goal of Six Sigma is the elimination of any defects that may cause damage to business value. 

Keyword(s): Six Sigma

The Six Sigma main concept is pretty simple - deliver services while maintaining maximum customer satisfaction. Six Sigma can bring a lot of benefits for you and your organisation. Take a look at the foundations of Six Sigma and the key principles: 

Focus on the customer

Six Sigma focuses on bringing the most benefits possible for the customer. For it to work, it is neccesary to understand customer needs. That means that standards of quality should be established, given the demands of the customer and market. 

Measure the value stream and be aware of the problems

Decreasing the level of waste is essential and to achieve that you need to map the steps of every process and gather all the data to discover problems and finding best ways of solving them. It is also important to keep clear goals and define all the data and create a proper data colletion system, which can help with reducing errors and problems that will need to be solved during any kind of process while working on the project.

"Get rid of the junk"

Once you discover the problem, you need to take care of it. Removing problematic defects is essential for any process to work efficiently.

Equip your team with proper knowledge

Six Sigma processes have a big impact on the entire organisation, hence the team needs to work efficiently and use the principles and methodologies in a way that will allow to bring success. To keep your project safe from failing it is good to organise specialized training to equip your team with knowledge and skills needed to reduce risk and keep your project from failing. 

Be flexible

Business transformation is the essence of Six Sigma. When issues appear in processes it usually requires implementing some changes in work practices. Therefore, flexibility and responsiveness are two very important qualities that enable implementing a proper change in procedures. Therefore, the project team should have the ability to easily adapt to changes. 

The Six Sigma Methodologies

Six Sigma includes two main methodologies: DMAIC and DMADV. Read on and find out more about them!

DMAIC is a method used to improve the services that already exist. Main goal of it is increasing customer satisfaction. 

DMADV is a process used to redesign the service delivery or a particular process. DMADV is helpful when the existing processes no longer meet the customer needs and require optimization. 

The Six Sigma Process of the DMAIC method has five phases:

DEFINE

The Six Sigma process begins with an approach directed towards the customer: defining the problem from customer perspective, setting goals, like "What do I want to achieve?", "What resources will I use?", etc. and mapping the process.

MEASURE

The second phase is focused on the metrics: measuring your problem and defining all the data, evaluating the measurement system and defining if it will help you achieve desired outcome.

ANALYZE 

The third phase includes deep analyzes of the process: determining if your processes are effective and defining your goals in numbers, e.g. "Reduce something by 15%", "Increase something by 10%", etc.

IMPROVE 

This phase includes identifying how you can improve your processes, by using tools for proper optimization.

CONTROL 

This is the final phase. It determines if the improvements are sustainable. In this phase you can establish the process capability and define if you are able to meet your goals. 

Six Sigma Techniques

Six Sigma methodology uses a couple of tools and techniques. Learn more about the most important ones: 

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is essential for any method focused on problem solving, hence it is used even before starting of using any other tool. During the brainstorming the team exchange their ideas and create ways to properly approach a problem. 

"The 5 Whys"

In the 5 Whys technique, the team ask the important question: "Why?" They ask this question several times until they reach the point where they are lead to the core of the problem they are analysing. Of course, the number of questions can be different than 5, it depends on what the issue require. 

Listening to the the customer

Another important process, that focuces on the customer needs, by gathering the feedback. The goal of that technique is to give customer the best services possible in answer to their needs.

Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

The Kaizen technique is a strategy that leads to desired improvement. It is focused on monitoring and executing all the needed improvements. 

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a technique that sets standards of measurement, by comparing the data with competitive businesses. It includes comparing similar services and products with the same ones of your competitors. 

Six Sigma Levels

There are several levels of Six Sigma, take a closer look at all of them:

White Belt

The simplest stage, where basically anyone can join. The key is knowing how to work with a team on projects that include problem-solving tasks. Candidates uderstand basic Six Sigma concepts. 

Yellow Belt

Candidates know how to review process improvements and have an understanding of various Six Sigma methodologies. 

Green level

This level has a little more requierments, e.g min. 3 years of full-time employment. Candidates are able to use the tools and methodologies for problem-solving tasks and have guidance for Black Belt projects (Data collection, Analysis). 

Black Level

This level also requires min. 3 years of full-time employment and proof of completion of a min. 2 Six Sigma projects. 

Master Black Belt

To reach this level, a candidate must have the Black Belt certification and have min. 5 years of full-time employment or proof of completion of min. 10 Six Sigma projects, a work portfolio and experience coaching Green Belts and Black Belts.

As you can see Six Sigma tools and techniques help with reducing defects and problems and increasing the quality of product or services you are providing. If you want to be a part of that progress, check out our website and courses

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