Six Sigma Process
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Six Sigma Process is page 5 in my free six sigma online training course Define Six Sigma.





The Six Sigma Process



With the three diagrams below you can visualise the six sigma process.

I am have made these diagrams to demonstrate how I have always visualised the practical implementation of six sigma as a change management consultant having worked within and around the edges of six sigma projects.

As described on the overview of six sigma page, in the six sigma process we take the customer supplier relationship model, analyse it and break it down. We take a structured approach that provides for defects to be recorded and the process to be improved at each step as we move through the process.

This diagram represents a critical part of the steps in six sigma methodology and an aspect of the six sigma process often not immediately thought about. This is because people often think about the statistical aspects of six sigma first and can get caught up on the six sigma formula and six sigma calculations.

I have also presented this model on the Motorola six sigma history page because of its relevance to the creation of six sigma.

six sigma process




There are always different opportunities to improve in the different parts of any company. This six sigma process model can also be used in many areas, whether it be manufacturing, production management, customer service, or administration etc.

Commonly we use a series of business process mapping techniques as we review each of the activities in the process to identify more improvement opportunities.

The 'Plan Do Review' change management model is a similar type of continuous improvement approach. If you like this six sigma approach you may also like the Deming Cycle

Six Sigma Process Tips



  1. Have control of each process step before you move to the next process step.

  2. Try to get the people who receive the output of the previous process to experience doing the previous process i.e. have a customer pack their own goods.

  3. Plan and organise the work around the outcomes and goals. Be outcome orientated, not task orientated.

  4. Put together all of the work into one group or team.

  5. Ensure people get involved with the process and do not take a stepped-back approach to the process.

  6. Establish structures so that decisions are made at the process point.

  7. Eliminate hierarchical approaches to the process by having management involved at the process point, to work as coaches.



Six Sigma Formula - The Process Equation



As reviewed in the earlier pages, the six sigma process takes a mathematical and statistical approach towards continuous business improvement.

The six sigma process involves using statistics to highlight business problems and from there developing solutions that can be represented with a statistical outcome and resolved with a business solution.

six sigma process




  • The six sigma formula or process equation is the essential basic element of the six sigma methodology.

  • In this equation "Y" represents the outputs and "X" represents the inputs.

  • The 'Y's' contribute to the customer satisfaction requirements as we move through the process.

  • The 'X' are the inputs to the 'Y's'.

  • The key to the successful implementation of this six sigma approach, this six sigma process equation, and at the centre of the six sigma methodology is the skill of being able to capture the data. And then using the various six sigma tools to determine and analyse the key inputs, the "X' to any part or activity in the process.

  • Capturing, measuring and analysing the Y and X parameters of our business leads us to our business solution.



How do We Make the Measurement - How do we do this six sigma calculation?

1. How many defects or process variations were there? i.e. 400

2. The number of units we produced were 500

3. Estimate the number of opportunities there were for a defect or variation. i.e. lets say 450 per unit or a total of 225,000 (500x450)


DPMO = (400/(500*225,000))*1,000,000 = Defects Per Million Opportunities or 3.555556
Process Yield = 1-(400/(500*225,000)) = 99.9996%


This example is very close to six sigma. It just requires a little more improvement.

Converting this DPMO number or process yield to its sigma rating is done with the use of a statistical table. Importantly the six sigma method used to calculate the defects or estimate the variation opportunities in a process must be done the same way all of the time, otherwise comparisons and measures will not be accurate. Including being consistent with selecting and using the various types of statistical process control charts.

DPMO - Defects Per Million Opportunities



- 690,000 DPMO, or 31.00% of the time the activity will be okay. 31.00% of the time no defect will be produced.
- 308,000 DPMO, or 69.2% of the time the activity will be okay. 69.2% of the time no defect will be produced.
- 66,800 DPMO this means that 93.32% of the time the activity will be okay. 93.32% of the time no defect will be produced.
- 6,210 DPMO this means that 99.3790% of the time the activity will be okay. 99.3790% of the time no defect will be produced.
- 230 DPMO this means that 99.9770% of the time the activity will be okay. 99.9770% of the time no defect will be produced.
- 3.4 DPMO this means 99.99966% of the time the activity will be okay. 99.99966% of the time no defect will be produced.


Would an outcome of 99.99% of the time be ok? No because for example, this would mean for every 10,000 planes landing, there would be a problem landing with one.

Or at 99.99% if you were a wine cellar producing 1,000,000 litres per year (quite common) then 100 of those litres would go to a customer with a problem. That level of default could potentially cost you your business.

A sigma or 3.4 per million opportunities is considered close to perfect.

Six Sigma Online Training Course



One of the best free six sigma training courses of its kind available online. If you liked this page six sigma process, 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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