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Six Sigma Assessment

Aug 17, 2007
Assessing Six Sigma is not end-of-the-process post implementation, although an analysis of a failed Six Sigma project points out the lack of commitment by upper management and lack of attention to the cultural and business investment required for accomplishing and sustaining new tiers of performance. It is in this context that assessment of Six Sigma becomes necessary, especially when new attempts by companies on improvement projects, reveal that the journey will be long and hard.

Assessing The Different Implementation Stages of Six Sigma

The key to the success of Six Sigma implementation lies in assessing the status quo at various stages. Assessments reveal the deviations the implementation efforts have taken from the intended line of progress. As the deployment of Six Sigma is signified by emphasis on accomplishing benchmarks in process optimization and control to render progressively higher degrees of quality, performance efficiency and timeliness, a system of assessment needs to be inbuilt which puts in place an appropriate set of checks and balances.

Six Sigma Assessment Procedures

There has not been a single assessment procedure either devised or used by any one company which applies to all processes and industries. Companies successful at their Six Sigma implementation have developed and adopted their own assessment procedures. Some of them have used their own internal audit teams with their own criteria to assess the progress of Six Sigma implementation. Even using the audit procedures developed by Malcolm Baldrige Quality Awards is not new and unique. Many Six Sigma companies have actually gone ahead with evolving a custom developed audit system based on ISO 9000.

The Assessment Categories in Six Sigma

The fundamental premise of assessment in Six Sigma is identifying and reading the gaps between 'as is' and 'should be' conditions of the process stages. The 'should be' list of conditions is what is established at the beginning of the deployment described in great length for each category. The categories for assessment are listed below:

1. Leadership
2. Communication and Implementation in Everyday Activities
3. Project Effectiveness and Efficiency
4. Organizational Transformation
5. Customer Impact

The requirements of these top level categories are the customized topics needed for achieving overall objectives. The method of assessment contains written tests and interviews starting with top level managers down to line employees, in addition to meetings and seminars.

The overall results are shown as applicable to the core business process. The results of leadership assessments that show possible areas for improvements are essentially helpful in chalking out a course correction plan. The results also show weaknesses that are to be assessed as the first step toward fine tuning the exercise for needed changes.

The need for assessment may be fulfilled whenever it is warranted. In the normal course, where the results take 4-6 months to show, the assessment can be scheduled as an annual exercise. Experience from successful implementation of Six Sigma has shown that major roadblocks in changing an organizational mind set lies in sustaining the gains made.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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