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Following a Systematic Approach to Six Sigma Project Implementations

Mar 26, 2008
Exceptions will always be there, but if you look closely, you can easily see that the majority of businesses that have successfully implemented Six Sigma have been able to do so because of their continual stress on following a systematic approach while implementing time-tested Six Sigma concepts and methodologies.

For better understanding, we'll discuss some of the core components of the systematic approach as applicable to successful Six Sigma implementations.

Mapping Organizational Processes

Since businesses are nothing more than the sum total of the various organizational processes, the systemic approach first focuses on mapping all the internal and external processes that might be present. When this is done, it makes it easier for the implementation team to get a better understanding of the processes involved. This naturally aids team members when implementations are finally initiated in the organization.

Identifying Key Business Sub-Processes

The next step deals with identifying key business sub-processes that might be contributing the most to the main process or those that might hold the most potential in terms of quality improvements. Identifying key processes is necessary simply because it is not possible and also financially unviable for businesses to look into each and every process that might have been identified during the mapping stage.

By concentrating their efforts on a select few, businesses can achieve a lot more, thereby contributing to the success of Six Sigma quality improvement initiatives.

Selecting Improvement Methodologies

Since individual processes are quite different from each other, businesses need to take adequate precautions while selecting improvement methodologies. Selecting time-tested and proven methodologies may be the right thing to do, but that will not necessarily guarantee anything simply because a lot more depends on the applicability of a methodology to a given business process.

The best way to go about it is to start with small improvement projects and then gradually move on to larger projects if the results turn out to be positive.

Conducting Periodical Reviews and Follow-Up

In this last step of the systematic approach, businesses are required to conduct periodical reviews to determine whether or not the initiated quality improvement methodologies are delivering the desired results. If the reviews are positive, businesses can just continue with their existing set-up, but if some irregularities are detected, businesses may have to revert back to the first step. This may be time consuming, but since it is certainly better than risking the whole project, businesses can never afford to overlook the importance of periodical reviews.

Many other steps may be added in between, depending on the specific needs and requirements of a business, but the steps described above form the basic framework of the systematic approach and as such always need to be followed by all businesses, big or small. Inability to do so can seriously undermine the success of Six Sigma project implementations.
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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