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Suresh Jayaram

Why use Six Sigma to make process improvements?

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Here are some reasons why we should be using Six Sigma to make process improvements:

  1. It is a structured approach - if we follow the process, people will not forget any important steps along the way before they implement the solution.
  2. It helps quantify the benefits and thus make it easier to sell the improvements to senior managers in the company.
  3. It uses facts & data and the rigor of statistical testing to arrive at the right root cause instead of fixing symptoms or putting band-aids.
  4. There is a greater likelihood of the solution being sustainable if we follow the Six Sigma process.
  5. Six Sigma focuses on solving the right problems using the project selection matrix.
  6. It has proven itself in a large number of deployments. Frankly, there is no better tool out there to make process improvements - especially when the root cause or the solution is not known.

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One question I got recently is- How can an individual benefit from Six Sigma? My answer was - Six Sigma builds the following in an individual.

  1. Ability to identify improvement projects and shortlist the best out of them.
  2. Ability to attack problems and challenges in a structured manner.
  3. Ability to guide and involve teams in complex situations through stimulating exercises that yield results.
  4. Ability to generate powerful recommendations for top/ senior management based on data driven approach.
  5. Ability to present recommendations to senior management effectively.
  6. Ability to implement recommendations with very high success rates.
  7. Ability to sustain/ control process improvements. 

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A TV manufacturer recently commented that they do not need Six Sigma as they have been achieving zero defect targets and achieving them already.

 

My Response -

 

The TVs may be defect free. But are all critical processes defect free? Is the stage by stage receiving and production processes 100% defect free? Are there no errors being fixed in in-process inspections or final inspections? Are there no warranty claims due to defects?

 

Let us also look at other processes? Are there no errors in recruitment and selection processes? How good are the production planning processes? Are billing processes error free? Is customer satisfaction 100%? Are sales and delivery processes timely and error free? Are all promises (within departments and inter department) met? Is the employee satisfaction at its peak? Is there n scope for reduction in cost? Does efficiency always remain at desired levels?

And how about management review processes? how effective are they? Are there zero nonconformities in internal audits? If there are findings, are internal audit findings closed effectively every time? Are there no recurrences of defects?

 

Also, are all management targets achieved every time? Are all KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) performing perfectly? Is there no scope for improvement anywhere?

Six Sigma is for solving business problems. If an organization believes that there are no business problems currently, Six Sigma can be very effective in addressing business challenges (both - current and futuristic challenges).

 

Comments welcome!!

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I agree with the above discussions.  However, wanted to understand how Six Sigma implementation will help an organization which has recently been certified for CMMI SW V1.2 Maturity Level 5.

 

I understand that Qunatative Project Management process area of CMMI V1.2 consider three sigma values.  If anyone can put some light on how will it benefit an organization in quantitative terms by having Six Sigma (GB, BB) professionals running some Six Sigma projects? 

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Dear Vasundhra,

 

Maturity level 5 means that the organization has demonstrated that it has statistically managed processes. It also means that the company has successfully demonstrated compliance to requirements.

 

However, Six Sigma has a different set of objectives to realize. When Six Sigma projects are identified and approved at a senior level, these relate to business improvement objectives rather than compliance objectives.

 

So when a Black Belt starts on a Six Sigma project, he or she is aware of the following:

  • Just as there is a higher reward, there is some risk involved in a Six Sigma project. Ideally, a Six Sigma project is a problem/ opportunity area for which cause and solutions are unknown at the project approval stage
  • The Black Belt is aware that on completion of the project, he is supposed to demonstrate sustenance of improved process through the control phase even as the process is managed by the process owner after his exit from the project.
  • It may be appropriate to say that statistical techniques like control charts, hypothesis tests, regression are used in CMMI compliance. Six Sigma provides more rigor and competence to a Black Belt in utilizing such techniques and much more advanced techniques like multiple regression, nonparametric tests of various kinds, QFD, Design of Experiments which are rarely used by CMMI practitioners.
  • CMMI and Six Sigma are complimentary in nature. You can study lot more on this subject by going through a SEI (Software Engineering Institute) publication named "CMMI and Six Sigma: Partners in Process Improvement"
  • Each project has business benefit linkage and progressive success in such projects can propel the person to a leadership position soon.

 

Regards,

VK

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Dear Mr. Khatri,

 

First, let me congratulate to Mr. Vishwadeep Khatri for the quality of explaining things very beautifully.

About me, I am MCA and I have five years of experience in IT HealthCare Industry. What would be the best Sig Sigma course for me? Is Six Sigma will help me to grow further in future.

 

Thanks & Regards,

Munish

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Dear Rahul,

 

Six Sigma is very useful for Chartered Accountants and financial analysts for following two reasons:

  • Being an integral part of Six Sigma projects carried out by anyone in the organization (by guiding them in terms of which metrics really cam bring financial benefits and which one do not matter much)
  • Restructuring financial processes in the company for better results.

 

Benchmark Six Sigma courses are recognized within India and internationally. I am currently on an International assignment conducting the same courses that we run regularly in India. One such program starts tomorrow at Delhi with a good cross functional participation. To know more, you may call at 1800 102 3003.

 

Regards,

Vk

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Dear Munish,

 

Five years experience brings an opportunity for you to measure, analyze and improve processes which you know so well. There is no reason why you should not learn starting with the Benchmark Six Sigma Green Belt.

 

Here is a survey link (responses filled by training participants in a currently live survey) to help you understand career benefits.

http://app.sgizmo.com/reports/45875/165131/6YQ0L5TMXYSK76S207L3K471A6H1MW/?ts=1261485978

 

Regards,

VK.

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Hi Sir,

 

This is Hemanth and i am pursuing PG in Construction Project Management and i like to do Certifications on Lean Management and Six Sigma.

Actually i want to know the difference between Lean Magagement and Six Sigma. And i am also intrewsted in 'Seven basic tools of Quality', is there any certification available on this...

 

Please reply me as soon as possible, so that i can plan accordingly.......

 

Thanks & Regards,

Hemanth Kumar,

 

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Hi Hemanth Kumar,

 

I think you are asking most frequently asked question i.e. "What is difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma". Since the subject is very vast it is not possible to cover it in an e mail. Simply type  "Difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma " on Google and you will get lot of information and knowledge on the subject through different links.

 

Most frequently used 7 Quality Tools for solving quality related problems are "Histograms, Pareto Charts, Cause and Effect Diagrams, Run Charts, Scatter Diagrams, Flow Charts, Control Charts".

 

They have unique Applications so it is important to know " How and When to use each one of them " for finding solution to a problem. To the best of my knowledge there is no separate certification available for these tools but they are generally covered in a "ISO 9001 2008 Lead Auditor or Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification" training program offered by reputed organizations. 

 

Regards

Aniruddha

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Thank you, Aniruddha Sir for your important information. 

 

As you said the seven basic tools of quality is covered in Lean six sigma Green Belt certification, as i am a fresher from Construction Project Management, will the Companies consider my certification.

 

And as i am from Civil Engineering back ground, will the IT companies consider me based on the Green Belt certification.

 

You said that the Seven tools will be covered in Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification, i got a doubt that 'Is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification is same as Six Sigma Green Belt certification'

 

please kindly reply me.

 

Thanks & Regards,

Hemanth Kumar,

 

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Dear Hemanth,

 

We, at Benchmark Six Sigma, cover basics of Lean within Six Sigma Green Belt program. However for deeper knowledge of Lean, one needs to undergo a separate Lean management Certification (2 days program)

 

Also, you have misinterpreted Mr. Aniruddha's reply. 7 QC tools are covered in Yellow Belt curriculum (and also in Green Belt). Green Belt covers much more including Measurement System Analysis, Sigma Level calculations, Hypothesis Testing (ANOVA, T tests, Chi- Square, Proportion tests, sample size assessments, non parametric tests etc.), Graphical Techniques like Box Plots, C and E Matrix, introduction to DOE, Poka Yoke.

 

Best Regards,

VK

 

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Hi Hemanth Kumar,

 

Vishwadeep has already answered your question that 7 QC tools are covered in Yellow Belt curriculum (and also in Green Belt). In my opinion your fresher status should not matter for attending a Yellow belt training program. You can always mail your training related queries to Vishwadeep and his team at BSS who can provide necessary guidance and information. 

 

As rightly mentioned by Vishwadeep 7 QC tools forms only a very small portion of Six Sigma Green Belt program. That's the reason I wrote -- they are generally covered in a "ISO 9001 2008 Lead Auditor or Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification" training program offered by reputed organizations. 

 

Have you tried finding "Difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma " on Google as suggested in my mail above? If you do that all your doubts will be cleared.

 

Regards

Aniruddha

Vishwadeep : Thanks for your mail. Your reply has made my job easy.

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Hi All,

 

I am basically from Operational back ground, very keen to understand the scope for improvements.

from process excellence stand point, six sigma plays an integral part in terms of identifying the non value adds and stream line the controls resulting in a greater efficiency and utilization. enables a different perspective towards functional challenges and act towards the greater results.

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