Six Sigma

Six Sigma Roadmaps

There are roadmaps of Six Sigma - DMAIC roadmap and DMADV roadmap.

DMAIC is a roadmap for implementing Six Sigma principles to already existing products and services. The DMAIC process is used to improve an existing product or process as to customer requirements. DMAIC Roadmap consists of five stages: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control.

  • Define: Define customer requirements and project objectives.
  • Measure: Measure how the process operates to determine the current process baseline.
  • Analyse: Investigate the root causes of the process issues. .
  • Improve: Improve the process by implementing solutions.
  • Control: Control the future process outputs and ensure sustainability of the new process.

DMADV is a roadmap for developing a new process or product and is similar to Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) approach. DFSS focuses on designing and/or redesigning the various processes used both in manufacturing or services. DFSS is used for new processes.  DMADV Roadmap on the other hand is used when existing products or processes do not meet customer specifications or the required level of quality even after optimisation was completed using DMAIC roadmap. DMADV roadmap has the following phases: Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Validate.

  • Define: Define the objectives and customer requirements related to the project
  • Measure: Measure the process performance to determine the baseline metrics
  • Analyse: Uncover and analyse the root causes of the issues
  • Design: Design the new process in order to meet customer needs and requirements
  • Validate: Validate the design and ensure the performance meets the customer needs

Six Sigma 1  - the ultimate improvement roadmap

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is not a new methodology – it originated in Motorola back in 1980s with the objective to reduce variation in manufacturing processes. Jack Welch made it part of General Electric business strategy in 1995. From there, Six Sigma has been widely spread and generally accepted quality management approach across industries and around the world.

Nowadays, Six Sigma application has successfully expanded from manufacturing to service industry and heavily implemented with great success in Finance, BPOs, IT, Call centres, Education, Government agencies, Healthcare, etc.

The term Six Sigma originates from statistics where it is used to assess process capability and statistical process control. It shows the extent to which the process meets the requirements of its customers. The measure for Six Sigma is DPMO (defects per million opportunities) where a level of Six Sigma means that the process has 3.4 defects per million opportunities or 99.99966% non-defective outputs or yield. This shows the sigma level of the process and is a major indicator when Six Sigma methodology is used.

Six Sigma is a quality management approach used to drive process improvement projects with its respective infrastructure. Every Six Sigma project has a project lead assigned (Yellow belt, Green Belt or Black belt) depending on the project complexity, also a project Sponsor or Champion who supervises the project from business perspective. Project teams are formed (3-7 team members) with respective subject matter expects involved to deliver this project. Six Sigma projects are executed on priority company processes that are of strategic importance to the business or the respective department.

Six Sigma methodology is based on data analysis and has the customer at its core. It uses statistical tools and techniques to progressively eliminate inefficiencies and defects in order to improve processes. Six Sigma starts with formulating a clear statement about the process issues at hand. Defining the problem is the first and major step to finding the right solution. Setting up the problem statement helps narrow the problem and focus it in a way that makes it very specific and easy to understand. This is the main focus of the so called Define phase.

The next step is to discover how big the problem is and find the right measurements to create the benchmark of how the process works at present. Data collection and initial analysis help create this benchmark. Gathering the knowledge of the current process performance helps us establish where we are and formulate the direction of where we are heading and the gap we need to close by executing the Six Sigma project.

Analyse phase focuses on uncovering the root causes of process inefficiencies and validating them. At Improve phase, Solutions to the root causes are generated, selected and implemented. Control phase assesses if the solutions have led to the desired improvements and seeks evidence in numbers that the change has led to an improvement. Sustainability actions are taken to ensure ongoing controls. 

Steps to delivering a Six Sigma project

    1. Identify the areas of improvement
    2. Define the problem and improvement goals in quantifiable terms (i.e. which can be measured numerically)
    3. Determine the resources needed for the project
    4. Set up a project deliverables timeline in a phased manner
    5. Establish performance metrics (KPIs)
    6. Collect baseline data and information about the process
    7. Validate measurement system (MSA) for the process output (Y)
    8. Examine the data collected in the earlier phase to determine a prioritised list of sources of variation
    9. Explore potential causes (potential X’s for causation) and determine the impact of each X has on the response Y
    10. Determine the optimal level of vital few X’s
    11. Validate measurement system for X’s (MSA)
    12. Verify process improvement delivered
    13. Develop control mechanism to ensure sustenance of the improved process

Benefits of Six Sigma

  • Six Sigma helps companies reduce cost, boost performance and improve productivity
  • Six Sigma improves project outputs by eliminating defects and increasing levels of quality
  • Six Sigma increases customer loyalty and decreases dissatisfaction
  • Six Sigma Professionals contribute to the increase of ROI

Six Sigma 2 - best improvement method

Six Sigma Certifications

The levels of Six Sigma certifications make use of the so called system of belts to denote the level of six sigma skills and competence of leaders and teams within a six sigma project.

Six Sigma 3 - certified professionals

Several belt levels exist within a six sigma project:

  • Six Sigma White Belt – manages small projects within their operation, serves as team member
  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt – manages departmental level projects
  • Six Sigma Green Belt –drives cross-departmental projects
  • Six Sigma Black Belt – lead cross functional projects
  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt – leader to complex organisational projects, coaches and mentors other belts and team members

Six Sigma Roadmaps
What is Six Sigma?
Steps to delivering of a Six Sigma project
Benefits of Six Sigma
Six Sigma Certifications