Six Sigma stands for Six Standard Deviations (Sigma is the Greek letter used to represent standard deviation in statistics) from mean. It is a methodology that provides the techniques and tools to improve the capability and reduce the defects in any process.
It was started in Motorola, in its manufacturing division, where millions of parts are made using the same process repeatedly. Eventually Six Sigma evolved and applied to other non manufacturing processes. Today you can apply Six Sigma to many fields such as Services, Medical and Insurance Procedures, Call Centers.
Six Sigma uses a methodology known as DMAIC (Define opportunities, Measure performance, Analyze opportunity, Improve performance, Control performance) to improve any existing business process by constantly reviewing and re-tuning the process.
Six Sigma methodology can also be used to create a brand new business process from ground up using DFSS (Design For Six Sigma) principles. Six Sigma Strives for perfection. It allows for only 3.4 defects per million opportunities for each product or service transaction. Six Sigma relies heavily on statistical techniques to reduce defects and measure quality.
Six Sigma experts (Green Belts and Black Belts) evaluate a business process and determine ways to improve upon the existing process. The experts can also design a brand new business process using DFSS (Design For Six Sigma) principles. Typically it’s easier to define a new process with DFSS principles than refining an existing process to reduce the defects.
Six Sigma incorporates the basic principles and techniques used in Business, Statistics, and Engineering. These three form the core elements of Six Sigma. Six Sigma improves the process performance, decreases variation and maintains consistent quality of the process output. This leads to defect reduction and improvement in profits, product quality and customer satisfaction.
Six Sigma methodology is also used in many Business Process Management initiatives these days. These Business Process Management initiatives are not necessarily related to manufacturing. Many of the BPM’s that use Six Sigma in today’s world include call centers, customer support, supply chain management and Project Management.
Some Six Sigma practitioners have In recent years combined Six Sigma ideas with lean manufacturing to invent new a methodology. This new methodology is called Lean Six Sigma.
Customer requirements, design quality, metrics and measures, employee involvement and continuous improvement are main elements of Six Sigma Process Improvement.
Involving all employees is very important to Six Sigma. The company must involve all employees. Company must provide opportunities and incentives for employees to focus their talents and ability to satisfy customers.
Defining Roles: This is important to six sigma. All team members should have a well defined role with measurable objectives.
Even though it was initially implemented at Motorola to improve the manufacturing process, all types of businesses can profit from implementing Six Sigma.
Businesses in various industry segments such as Services industry (Example: Call Centers, Insurance, Financial/Investment Services), Ecommerce industry (Example: B2B/B2C websites), Education can definitely use Six Sigma principles to achieve higher quality. Many big businesses such as GE and Motorola have successfully implemented Six Sigma but the adaptation by smaller businesses has been very slow.
Here are some of the reasons to consider: