Technology

What is Six Sigma: Definition and Methodology

Every industry is concerned about the new buzzword “digital transformation”. To enable this digital transformation, companies are using new technologies and tools to cope up with the fast-paced competitive climate.

Are there ways to smoothen the company’s transformational process? Can a company’s service design problem or any product bottleneck be resolved with a stand-alone technology?

We know that digital transformation speeds up the company’s growth, but it works best if it is accompanied by quality control and business management strategies.

There are various techniques that enable digital transformation in an organization. One such technique is six sigma. Wondering what is six sigma?

Let’s explore this article to understand more about it.

What is six sigma?

Six Sigma is a quality management system that helps firms detect and eliminate faults in their present processes, goods, or services. The aim of six sigma is to make quality control in manufacturing or commercial operations better with minimal variations.

Motorola patented the term “six Sigma” in 1993, however, it refers to the Greek letter sigma, which is a statistical sign for a standard deviation. Because a Six Sigma process is anticipated to be defect-free 99.99966 percent of the time — allowing for 3.4 faulty features per million chances — Motorola coined the phrase. This aim was originally set for Motorola’s production operations, but it rapidly became a catchphrase and a generally accepted norm.

How does Six Sigma Work?

Sigma represents a standard deviation from the mean in statistical research. Walter Shewhart, a pioneer of statistical process control, argued in the 1920s that three sigmas off the mean are the tipping point in lean manufacturing. Moreover, he indicated that there are too many defects and it is necessary to alter the process.

This was the standard process until Bill Smith introduced better analysis of data and entitled Six Sigma as the portal at which a process is resolved.

Because achieving zero faults (infinity sigma) is nearly unattainable, six sigma allows for 3.4 defects per million possibilities for a defect to occur. Three sigmas, on the other hand, allow for 66,807 errors per million opportunities.

Six Sigma Methodologies

DMAIC

Each letter in the acronym DMAIC represents each step of the Six Sigma DMAIC. Let’s elaborate on them below:

  • Define the problem, the customer, the project specifications, and the client’s goals and expectations.
  • Establish a data collection plan to discover flaws and gather metrics to assess the present process’ performance.
  • Analyze the process to determine the underlying cause of variations and problems, as well as any flaws in the existing strategy that are impeding the achievement of the ultimate objective.

DMADV

The five steps of the Six Sigma DMADV, also known as the Design For Six Sigma (DFSS), are as follows:

  • Define realistic goals that are in line with the needs of the client or the company’s strategy.
  • Measure and identify the customer’s crucial to quality (CTQ) needs. Later transform these needs into unambiguous project objectives.
  • Analyze a variety of possibilities and alternatives for the client, as well as the project’s expected overall life cycle.

Six Sigma Key Principles

Six Sigma aims to provide almost perfect goods and services necessary for digital transformation and maximum customer satisfaction.

Five important Six Sigma principles:

Focus on the Customer

This principle is built on the widely used concept “customer is king”. It aims to provide the best to the customers. To provide the best, companies should understand the consumers, their needs, and why they wish to buy from them and stay loyal. Hence, it necessitates building a quality standard based on the customer’s expectations or needs.

Figure out the problem

Companies can identify waste regions by plotting the processes in a specific process. Collect the necessary information to figure out the problem that needs attention. Develop data collecting goals like specifying the data to be collected, the reason for data collection, the predictive analysis, ensuring accurate measurements, and constructing a perfect data collection methodology. They should verify if the data is assisting in achieving the goals and should be improved or any new information is required. Figure out the problem and ask queries to solve the problem.

Clear out the Junk

After identifying the problem, modify the process to eliminate the problems. Also, eliminate the steps that do not bring value to the client. If the value stream is not able to figure out the source of the problem, then companies should use various techniques to identify outliers and trouble regions. To obtain quality control and efficiency, companies should streamline activities. Finally, by clearing the junk, bottlenecks in the process vanish.

Keep the Ball Rolling

All parties of the company should be a part. They should use a systemic approach to problem-solving so that their team contributes and collaborates with their expertise. Six Sigma has a significant effect on businesses, so the team should have expertise in the ideas and methodology used. To reduce the risk of project or re-design failures and ensure that the process runs smoothly, specialized training and knowledge are quintessential.

Make Sure to Provide a Flexible and Responsive Environment

Business transformation and modifications are the most important part of Six Sigma. When a defective or inefficient process is deleted, it generates a requirement for modifications in the work practices and employee behavior. Flexible culture and openness to modifications in the process will ensure that the projects are completed quickly and efficiently. The team involved should adapt to the changes quickly. Hence, a competitive advantage can be gained by a company that focuses on data, verifies the bottom line regularly, and adapts its operations as required.

If you wish to make six sigma your career, then there are various certification courses that you can opt for. You can choose the most relevant one and build your career.

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