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Six Sigma For Small Businesses

Aug 17, 2007
Six Sigma is a series of systems that focus on implementing quality measurement strategies based on data and statistical analysis to enhance operational performance. In the early days of its introduction, 6 Sigma was commonly misconceived to be a big business strategy, applicable only to large corporations. Though no such restriction was ever envisioned in its functional scope, it was rendered this status since only big businesses initially tried and applied the strategies to improvise their business processes (they had the money). However, it has been subsequently demonstrated that 6 Sigma can be equally productive when implemented in small businesses. Its features of Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, have the potential of regulating work with proper standards irrespective of the size of the organization or the project under execution.


One major benefit of small organizations employing Six Sigma is that they can speed up the implementation of 6 Sigma strategies. Owing to factors such as fewer layers of management hierarchy, flexible process flow and quick access to the top decision-makers in smaller businesses, the execution of Six Sigma in such organizations can be quite fast and effective. Another advantage of applying the process in small corporations is that training lead times can be shorter.

As the monetary expenses incurred on Six Sigma training are heavy, it is important to assess the savings that accrue from the first set of projects implementing the 6 Sigma strategies. Typically, it has been observed that the financial gains and the cultural conversion in management skills in smaller firms are rapid. In addition, applying 6 Sigma strategies in a small business environment can help achieve breakthrough results since the period between implementation and visible results is almost negligible.

In small businesses, individuals who are trained as 6 Sigma Green Belts and Black Belts can be used as trainers for coaching other employees. This helps in achieving more, since the trainers and trainees work in the same environ and the former can demonstrate live execution of Six Sigma procedures. In such an environment, employees who being initiated into Six Sigma implementation are able to see for themselves, the process errors being made and are able to often come up with innovative solutions to overcome those and improve productivity. In this manner, process issues get a two way perspective. These perceptions are beneficial since 6 Sigma strategies are not stagnant and are in a continuously reinventing mode.

Overall, changing the viewpoint of employees in a small organization is easier than in a large one.


There are a few hurdles in the way of Six Sigma implementation in small organizations. Firstly, small-scale firms have a shortage of ready funds for investing in 6 Sigma training and implementation. Secondly, small corporations cannot afford full-time Black Belt personnel to guide their staff. The salary demanded by such personnel is substantially high and smaller firms often prefer investing that amount in areas such as marketing and product development.
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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