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Targeting Perfection With Six Sigma

Dec 25, 2007
For instance Raytheon Aircraft's IT division saved almost $500,000 in 2002 from a single project.

For some time now Six Sigma has been voted the perfect methodology for defect reduction in organizations by focusing on the quality of the customer service.

Six Sigma As The Perfect Quality Enhancing Methodology

Numerically, Six Sigma can be defined as reducing the defect level to 3.4 in per million chances so that perfection in the process can be achieved. The methodology was invented in 1980's by Motorola and was applied by business powerhouses like Honeywell and General Electric. After watching them excel like never before, companies from all disciplines are looking at implementing it in their organizations as well.

Six Sigma is a fact-based, quantifiable methodology. It emphasizes constant improvement and has the capability to tenaciously root out the defects and improve overall processes. It is for this very reason that it is ideal for any business from manufacturing to finance to IT. Especially in the field of IT, it plays a very big role by providing CIO's with a measurable way to justify technology investments. Often, IT companies get stuck in a project with insatiable demands and lost ROI. In these critical times, Six Sigma helps the business unit to improve the way they deliver and also gives a very precise way to demonstrate the real value of technology.

The IT industry has developed so much that CIO's can see some quality problems occurring; the best way to deal with those problems is to apply it at the root of the problems. However, upper management is often skeptical about introducing Six Sigma in their business. Small organizations who are planning to implement 6 Sigma will have to wait for the effects to show in their processes because they will first have to reach a level that is high enough to be counted in six figures. Lastly, it is an executive supervised transformation tool that needs senior management sponsorship.

How The Methodology Of Six Sigma Works In An IT Environment

IT operations are affected by the implementation of Six Sigma into internal as well as external processes. After all, it perfects the processes, and IT operations totally depend on various processes. It starts its analysis by formulating a problem statement - then the root cause of the problem is determined, and finally it works out the specifics to pull out the problem from the root itself. This problem evaluation method is known as DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) which removes the defects during the design phase.

Established CIO's and 6 Sigma experts point out towards some of the practices that an organization should adopt to reap profits from Six Sigma:

Choose The Right People - A 6 Sigma team should be well aware of techniques, such as organizing and maintaining an internal SWOT team, breaking and then reforming an entire process. The Six Sigma team should be certified as green and black belts.

Avoid Substituting Six Sigma For Contemplation - IT companies usually have an urge to first solve problems through tried and tested methods and not some untried methodologies. This is not a very bright idea, as even if you employ the latest technology to a problem without trying out other alternative courses of action. You may end up with bad process with the latest technology.

Don't Be Afraid Of Experimenting - The methodologies and tools of Six Sigma that are usually prescribed are not words set in stone. Feel free to twist the methodologies a little to extract the best out of your process. Just determine in advance what is it that you want from your workforce and choose the tools and the techniques accordingly.

Don't Be Afraid Of Numbers - All your measuring techniques and mountains of data will crumble to dust if you don't know for what purpose you are doing it and what to interpret out of it.

Selling Six Sigma

The biggest problem that a CIO encounters while implementing the methodology is that employees get scared of embracing a new management initiative. However, experts say that the best way to acquaint your team to Six Sigma is to stay away from heavy words like Six Sigma, 3.4 defects, certification etc. Just let your team know that there are problems, they need to be solved with their help and there are certain strategies that if deployed, will raise quality standards.
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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