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Design For Six Sigma (DFSS)

Aug 17, 2007
When people talk about Six Sigma, they usually are referring to the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) methodology, which is used for optimizing an existing product or process, which may not be meeting customer needs or specifications. Design For Six Sigma, or DFSS, is quite different from DMAIC, as it is used for designing a completely new product or process that meets customer specifications. Compared to DMAIC, which is universally applicable on any business process, DFSS concepts and techniques do not have universal recognition.

They vary from company to company, depending on the basic characteristics of the product of business process that needs to be developed. DFSS may either be implemented for improving the work culture within an organization, or for assisting in the deployment of other Six Sigma concepts that are being used by competitors. This makes DFSS a more approach-based methodology, rather than a standalone optimization methodology such as DMAIC.

Applicability And Requirements

DFSS is applicable only in situations wherein a new product or business process needs to be designed or re-designed from the very beginning. It aims at reducing defects to no more than one, for every thousand opportunities that exist for such defects to occur. Maintaining such high levels of quality from the very beginning will require Six Sigma professionals to have a high level of understanding about customer requirements and specifications, before completing and implementing a design.

DFSS Variations

DFSS has a number of variations, which perform the same basic functions, but are used in different business processes. One such variation is referred to as DMADV, which stands for define, measure, analyze, design, and verify. In the 'define' phase, the exact needs of customers are defined, based on data collected through research. The needs are then measured and benchmarked, based on competitors, or industries that are already satisfying such needs.

The next step deals with analyzing available process options that can be utilized for satisfying the benchmarked customer specifications. The most appropriate process is then selected, depending on the cost effectiveness of the process. In the last step, the selected process is verified for its performance and ability to meet the specific customer requirements. DMADV itself has its variation, which is referred to as DMADOV (define, measure, analyze, design, optimize, verify). It is clear from the definition that DMADOV has just one additional step, namely, optimization, which could be necessary for some business processes.

Another variation of DFSS is DCCDI, which stands for Define, Customer Concept, Design and Implement. It has many similarities with DMADV such as the define phase, measuring phase, and the design phase. The implementation phase is the only new addition in this methodology, which is related to the development and commercialization of a product or service.

IDOV is also a variation of DFSS and stands for Identify, Design, Optimize and Validate. This methodology also has only one additional phase, namely optimization, wherein advanced simulation modeling and statistical tools are utilized for predicting and optimizing the design and performance. Another commonly used variation is referred to as DMEDI, which stands for design, measure, explore, develop, and implement. Although the terms used may be different, the basic concepts and techniques used in DMEDI are quite similar to that of DAMDV.

Companies can implement any of these methodologies based on their requirements and the input provided by experienced Six Sigma professionals.
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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