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Identifying And Selecting A Six Sigma Consultant

Aug 17, 2007
When tested quality programs such as Six Sigma are implemented the right way, process improvement in a company can result in tangible gains within 3 to 6 months. Employees feel satisfied and ultimately, the shareholders also benefit from the overall results. While it is possible for business owners to study quality initiatives and effect changes within their organization on their own, sometimes an external consultant with expertise in Six Sigma might be the best person to help lead the change. Consultants are immune to a company's internal politics and have the advantage of exposure to information and best practices from other companies where they have implemented the procedure.

Choosing The Appropriate Consultant

Selecting the right Six Sigma Consultant is a vital decision that can have a tremendous effect on your business. Ways to assess a Six Sigma consultant include checking if their experience is relevant, if their track record is successful, if they are willing to impart their knowledge systematically and if they are skilled at training and facilitation.

Features Of A Good Consultant

- Six Sigma Consultants should have a unique blend of skills in Six Sigma and relationship management in team development and conflict resolution.
- They should serve as good communication lines between the employees or the customers and the leaders of the organization.
- They should take adequate responsibility for writing projects, documenting them and making decisions for the project.
- They should be able to lead the projects and facilitate conferences.
- Six Sigma consultants should also be able to make presentations to associates and contribute to a company's change of management process.

Selection Criteria

- The key to selecting a good Six Sigma consultant is becoming aware of the specific needs and work culture of your firm.
- Companies hiring a Six Sigma Consultant should initially perform a careful assessment of their internal environment and then formulate a team that can oversee the whole process.
- The company should know whether it requires a full Six Sigma service implementation or whether it only requires training.
- The main reasons for hiring Six Sigma Consultants should be their expertise on certain subject matters, are skilled at communication, be it written or verbal, are unbiased and can implement their skills within the company in a non-partial manner.
- Accountability is also an important consideration; if the implementation doesn't work then it can be placed squarely as the responsibility of the consultant. From an owner's point of view, it's easier to blame an external consultant than to take sides within the company itself.
- Cost is certainly a major factor while choosing a consultant but it should not be the only one. The professional fees charged by Six Sigma firms can vary from reasonable to very expensive and the key consideration should be the value that the consultant brings to the organization.

Pre-Hiring Measures

- It is advisable for companies to identify about 10 Six Sigma Consultants and ask for a proposal, based on which, they could shortlist 3 to make a presentation. This method of selection has worked very well for many companies.
- Background information about a consultant can be obtained from other businesses that have been through the process before.
- It is important to select a firm with more than a few years of Six Sigma experience.
- During the selection process, team leaders must decide what role the consultant has to play during the project. The consultant can be a strong facilitator and an experienced practitioner, a team member or a subject matter expert.
- To fit into any of these roles, a consultant has to have strong facilitation skills, in-depth process knowledge, industry exposure and should be able to perform specific tasks for the team.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta
Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online href="http://www.sixsigmaonline.org">six sigma training and certification
classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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