Overview of Six Sigma
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Overview of Six Sigma is page 2 in my free six sigma online training course Define Six Sigma.

Why is an overview of six sigma so important?

Because implementing six sigma methodology when it is not right for your business will be a very expensive waste of time and money. Having an overview of six sigma is necessary so you can decide if it is the best business improvement process for your type of company.

In many business environments we should say NO to introducing it. An overview of six sigma is necessary so we can understand what some of the weaknesses of it are, and to know the types of businesses that should implement it and those that should not.

Overview of Six Sigma - Customer Supplier Relationship Model

Any good valuable overview of six sigma has to include an explanation of the 'Customer Supplier Relationship Model'. I have to emphasise this model as a section in this overview of sigma six because this is one of the fundamentals in six sigma thinking. It is used for analysing how inputs move through the process to become outputs.

As a part of making any product of providing any service there are many customer and supplier relationships. As the inputs move through the process from one activity or process step to the next, they have requirements of the previous process step, and requirements of the next process step, and so on.

One of the six sigma principles and steps in the six sigma methodology, this analysis is critical to ensure the process is streamlined and not generating defects or variations in the process.

overview of six sigma

  • Single out one product or service that the organization provides.

  • Use the Customer Supplier Model to define the customer and what they require. Get feedback from the customer to place into your processes whenever possible for improving the process activities.

  • Using the same model define the suppliers and what they require.

  • Then take a look at ourselves, what we need from each of our customers and suppliers as part of the process. I.e. We need our customer ready to accept the goods when delivered.

  • Now carry out some business process mapping. To identify each of the steps of the process.

  • Measure how well the process is going and work out where things are going wrong.

  • Now focus on streamlining and improving the process. Trying to eliminate any of the activities or steps that cause variations in the process or defects in the output.

  • Once a sigma level say for example of 4σ is achieved, go through the process again to get better and increase the sigma level.

If you like this page, you may want to expand your overview of six sigma to the steps in six sigma methodology and the DMAIC process.

Why do so many firms like using Six Sigma?

Many companies like using the six sigma methodology because the problems that six sigma helps companies to solve are defect and process variation based. These are critical for a company to solve because they affect the companies internal and external customers.

Additionally, six sigma helps solve problems that can be acted on by the people in the company. And this action is directly linked to company profit.

When the companies structural elements are in place to support the six sigma process, results can be achieved and realised in profit numbers in a fairly short period of time, often less than a half a year.

Six sigma helps companies develop an organisational wide culture of continuous improvement and quality. So six sigma can be the change agent and catalyst to move business improvement initiatives along.

What is the Best Business Environment to Use Six Sigma

Six sigma is best to be used in advanced, complex manufacturing and service environments. And it is best for activities with a high volume of processes.

In these environments the six sigma process should be used on activities that are critical to customer satisfaction. By this I mean six sigma efforts are only essential to produce customer value.

Focus six sigma efforts in these complex business environments only on the products and services processes and outputs that provide value to the customer. And focus only on the activities where the level of performance has to be maintained very high to provide the customer the satisfaction and value necessary to meet their requirements and win their loyalty.

What are the Requirements to Make Six Sigma a Success

  • Six sigma is resource and time intensive so leaders from the top down are needed to commit to it.

  • The businesses structural systems must be established to measure the performance at the activity stage and at the output level.

  • The workforce has to be trained so they know what to do and who has to do it.

  • The company should benchmark against the best in their industry, set goals to achieve those benchmarks and measure often their obtainment towards them.

  • The company should not let the metrics take control where the focus on the metric is so strong that the organization looses site of the customer.

  • The company should maintain attention on the costs of the defects as well, not just the quantity.

  • Companies should not allow the achievement of six sigma targets make them feel superior in the industry so that the firm risks loosing site of the bigger picture.

Overview of Six Sigma Weaknesses

The steps in the six sigma methodology and the six sigma process are a standard set approach to all situations and they require the use of a lot or resources and a lot of people time.

Companies simply cannot profitably measure, monitor and maintain every process at six sigma levels and continue to do the individual processes viably. It would cost more than it returns.

The cost of rolling out the steps in the six sigma methodology on all the individual activities or processes of a firm would be greater than the benefit received from it.

For many smaller businesses there is simply not enough hands and feet and money to do the analysis that six sigma requires.

Overview of when NOT to Use Six Sigma

As a change management consultant, when participating in an overview of six sigma with clients, previously I have suggested if the business is low volume with a high product mix with varying processes, six sigma would not normally be appropriate.

The simpler the type of business activity the less important six sigma is because it becomes too cumbersome. The complexity of this type of resolution to defects and variations is high and it exceeds what is a necessary solution in simpler business process environments.

In these circumstances it is better to use lean manufacturing processes and not six sigma.

Six Sigma Free Online Training Course

One of the best free six sigma training courses of its kind available online. If you liked this page overview of six sigma, you may like to complete this free six sigma online training course.

Page 1 - Define six sigma. What is six sigma?
Page 2 - Overview of Six Sigma. Why do firms like it, the requirements for success, when to use it and when not to?
Page 3 - Six sigma history and Motorola six sigma.
Page 4 - The steps in six sigma methodology.
Page 5 - The six sigma process and six sigma basics for process improvement jobs.
Page 6 - What is lean six sigma, lean six sigma online training, lean six sigma tools and the lean six sigma methodology.

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