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Initiating Six Sigma Pilot Projects

Jan 24, 2008
Most Six Sigma projects focus on improving just a single business process rather than catering to all processes at the same time.

The Need For Initiating Six Sigma Pilot Projects

Handling one project at a time may be the logical thing to do, but sometimes even that is not enough, especially when dealing with projects that are huge and complex, and comprised of several smaller sub-processes. Businesses can get help from Six Sigma professionals such as Black Belts and Green Belts, but the way to go is to start a pilot project first, to assess the applicability of the suggested quality improvement initiatives. By implementing the pilot project successfully, businesses can ensure that all the remaining quality improvement initiatives that are still on the drawing board can also be carried out successfully.

All types of businesses can benefit from pilot projects, but it is the smaller and medium sized businesses that stand to gain the most because pilot projects can be easily managed with minimum funds and resources. Small businesses often do not have the requisite funds and resources to undertake large projects and since nobody can guarantee that the project will be a success, it makes sense to try out the pilot project first.

Another reason why pilot projects are favorable for a small business is that they make it easier for management to make resources available at the right place and at the right time to the implementation team. This is not possible logistically if too many projects are selected, all at the same time.

How To Select Six Sigma Pilot Projects

Any large business process is composed of several smaller sub-processes, any of which can be selected for the pilot project. However, as far as possible, businesses should always try to select a sub-process that is critical and adds the most value to the main process. This is necessary because when a pilot project involving the most critical sub-process is carried out successfully, it automatically increase the probability that the less-critical sub-processes will show the same results.

It does not make sense to select the less critical sub-processes for pilot projects because even if they are carried out successfully, there is no guarantee that the same results can be obtained for all the remaining sub-processes that might be more complex.

Other Things To Consider

In addition to being prudent in process selection, businesses also need to address other factors as well such as communications. A business may have selected the most appropriate process for the pilot project, but if proper communication channels were not provided, it would hinder the free-flow of information, ideas and suggestions, something that is vital for the success of any Six Sigma implementation project. It is only after proper communication is maintained can a business hope to make the pilot project a success.
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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