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The 6 Steps To Six Sigma

Aug 17, 2007
The First Step - Executive Training

The very first step for implementing Six Sigma in an organization is to ensure that executives at all levels are conversant with Six Sigma principles. This requires hiring a team of senior consultants who work through regular interaction with the executives and make them understand data interpretation, its relevance, and uses.

Second Step - Training Trench Level Staff

Next in line would be training the front line staff, as they are the people who have in- depth and firsthand knowledge about the day-to-day operational activities. They need to not only understand but also sincerely believe in the benefits of Six Sigma as they are at the execution level and control and direct the bulk of the workforce. It is therefore vital for the staff to believe in and stand by the company to ensure success of the whole project.

Third Step - Data Measurement

Basic to Six Sigma is quantification of defects per unit - this covers both manufacturing and services. Nothing should be vague. Everything should be recorded, and made to reflect factual and duly measured numerical data. For example, what is the time taken to ship the order to the customer? How long is the response time to a phone call made to the customer service department? What is the percentage of satisfied customers? What is the average break time availed by employees? Only after gathering sufficient data regarding points like this can the Six Sigma process to improvement in quality can begin.

Fourth Step- Data Analysis

Analysis of data is now required to identify the gap between the perfection level desired and the present operating efficiency level. The aim of the entire exercise is to close the gap. It cannot be overemphasized that it is essential for front line staff to whole-heartedly participate in the total quality improvement. This is possible only when the management is somehow able to convey the link or connection between total quality improvement and workplace improvement.

Companies use diverse methods for this. Realize that sincere participation requires taking extra pains involving extra effort which no employee will undertake until there is a reward in sight, some offer bonuses some have rewards and prizes for achieving goals while others offer perks based on predetermined levels of improvement.

Fifth Step - Assessment Of Quality Improvement Under Changed Conditions

After functioning for some time in the changed conditions, when modified operations and procedures have been in place in pursuance of the project, fresh data collection under supervision of Six Sigma Black Belts should be done to access the level of quality improvement. This will take a lot of time, capital and resources, but is essential in order to access the level of improvement achieved.

Sixth Step - Constant Monitoring And Control

Once improvement is perceptible, regular monitoring to control the repercussions from unforeseen variables that could affect overall business quality, like new products introduced by competitors or the facility undergoing some change, will need to be done. This will require top Six Sigma black belts for constantly analyzing data in order to access the effect of future variations, identify possible trends in order to determine the action plan for consistently regular improvement.
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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