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Six Sigma Audit

Aug 17, 2007
Six Sigma methodology is not a self-sustaining management tool perhaps unlike other technologies. It can only deliver the results subject to multiple variables and inputs such as deployment intensity and culture. Nonetheless, the results take around 4-6 months to show, depending on the projects selected and adherence to the tenets of the methodology.

The Six Sigma audit process does not depart too much from the assessment process of the deployment, in order that implementation status is checked for its effectiveness. The audit procedure dwells on questionnaires and checklists which help auditors evaluate the status of respective processes on 'as is' condition which is later compared with 'should be' condition. The 'should be' condition is the reference standard clearly defined at the beginning of the deployment in the goal setting stage.

The audit process in Six Sigma is pretty much comparable with a ISO 9000 audit. Many Six Sigma companies have successfully developed Six Sigma audit procedures based on the ISO 9000 principles but goes a bit further in the sense that Six Sigma takes into consideration the Voice of Customer (VOC). However, while auditing customers it is the internal customers that are interviewed. Using of audit procedures developed by Malcolm Baldrige Quality Awards is not new and unique in Six Sigma audit.

Use of Checklists and Charts for Six Sigma Audit

Using charts, made in the form of checklists, in audit ensures that nothing is left to chance. A checklist, which is exhaustive, is prepared during the launch of the project. There will be multiple checklists for each process and activity which can be used methodically to assess the processes involved in the project. For example, to check the leadership level and knowledge levels of Black Belts you can use the appropriate list.

The process audit checklists, like the rest, are prepared based on the Standard Operating Procedure defined in the beginning. Each question critically examines as to whether a step is being followed and if yes, how well. The activities and sub activities, since they are measurable, can be rated on the fact sheet on a predetermined scale. The answers to these questionnaires are summarized on the sheet itself.

For example, take the case of a dispatch system. If the process variation had occurred, the deviation is recorded in the operator's log which gets exposed during the audit. The variations are plotted against the standard deviation for exact picture.

The deviations from the mean represent process variation and with the help of these data, root causes of process variations are interpreted.

The Scope of the Six Sigma Audit

All in all, the scope of the audit is only limited by the preset goals and the customer reactions to the changes. The measurable aspects, including the customer satisfaction level are recognized independently and critically examined, which throws light on the current status of that process. The correlation that exists between all processes put together gives the final picture of where the project is heading with respect to ROI and customer satisfaction.
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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