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Bottlenecks In Six Sigma Implementation

Aug 17, 2007
Analysis of past six sigma project debacles indicates that the main cause of redundancies is often the inability of the team to identify bottlenecks related to the implementation process. Although six sigma teams consist of experienced employees and certified professionals such as Black Belts and Master Black Belts, it is very much possible that they might miss out on some vital aspects of the targeted business process.

Keeping in mind the past failures and redundancies, companies nowadays are stressing on identifying implementation bottlenecks before the actual implementation. By identifying the bottlenecks in advance, the team and the organization can ensure that all the benefits of the implementations are harnessed to their full potential.

Why Bottlenecks Occur

Some of the most common six sigma implementation bottlenecks arise due to errors in the decision making process, which ultimately leads to higher COPQ (cost of poor quality). The basic characteristic and intensity of these bottlenecks varies, depending on the organization's size and the number of processes it currently employs. The process of identifying bottlenecks is quite complicated as the bottlenecks can occur at any stage of the implementation.

Common Bottlenecks In Small Organizations

Although Six Sigma is applicable in both large as well as small organizations, the problem is that small organizations often do not have adequate resources to carry out the implementation effectively. By opting for Six Sigma implementation, small companies often expose themselves to several limitations. Lack of adequate resources, both human and financial leads to increased employee dissatisfaction, as they have to work extra hours all throughout the implementation stage. Small organizations may also face difficulties in hiring Six Sigma professionals, who are vital for the success of any implementation.

It is difficult for these organizations to speed up the implementation process, as they have to juggle between meeting existing obligations and overseeing the project implementation at the same time. These limitations can create different types of problems such as the unavailability of the requisite tools and methods that are necessary for effective and timely implementation of the Six Sigma project. The limitations also increase the risk of generating outdated and ineffective solutions aimed at redesigning the product, service or the business process. These limitations can easily prolong the deployment cycle time because chances are high that errors start occurring at the initial deployment stages, which ultimately can trigger a series of multiple errors.

Some Common Bottlenecks Of The Deployment Phase

Poor project selection is often the root cause of bottlenecks in the deployment phase and can lead to bottlenecks in all stages of the implementation. In the "Define" phase, the organization may fail to clearly define the real objectives of the implementation project, which in turn can create problems during the actual implementation. In the "Measure" phase, bottlenecks may arise due to lack of proper measurement systems and due to time lost in data collection. In the "Design" phase, problems may arise due to lack of innovative design improvement ideas. In the "Control" phase, bottlenecks may occur due to non-adherence to VOC (voice of customer), which is vital for the success of any Six Sigma implementation project.

An organization that wants to eliminate bottlenecks should give due consideration to all the above stated factors. This will help in timely implementation, necessary for deriving the benefits of Six Sigma initiatives.
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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