Six Sigma is a movement, method, and set of techniques focused on improving business processes. It relies heavily on statistical techniques to measure success. There are multiple Six Sigma methods, some designed for process improvement and some for designing or redesigning business processes. Most Six Sigma books, however, emphasize incremental process improvement. The focus of Six Sigma is the user and customer.
Six Sigma’s core elements include the description, measurement, analysis, improvement, and monitoring of business processes, supported by a variety of statistical methods. The DMAIC methodology maps the individual steps of a Six Sigma project.
How can Six Sigma be used successfully?
Six Sigma is not a project-related method—it is a fundamental methodology for quality management and entrepreneurial action. The introduction of Six Sigma is strategic and management should be involved in implementation and execution.
To exceed customer satisfaction expectations, organizations must know what their customers need and expect from the products they choose. This is the focus of the first phase of the DMAIC cycle, part of the Six Sigma methodology. Success requires that employees understand and apply the quality assurance methods used.
What changes as a result of using Six Sigma?
Six Sigma often changes the strategic orientation of a company. Because this methodology prioritizes benefit to the customer, it becomes an important factor in company-wide decisions and business processes. In addition, suppliers are no longer only selected by cost, but the specific contribution they make toward improving the product and the benefit to customers, as well. Six Sigma tends to also change the corporate culture and approach to certain tasks, problems, and processes over time.