The Six Sigma Method – Quality Management Process for Business

The Six Sigma Method

by Shamsul
Lean Six Sigma
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The Six Sigma Method


What it does and how does it work?

This method is utilized for process optimization and quality management. The Six Sigma Method was introduced by an American engineer “Bill Smith” while working at Motorola in 1986. It is a very useful method than others due to its mathematical approach which helps to measure the important factors of a process to analyze its progress. It reduces error rates and helps to identify rough relations for improving the whole process. Below, you will study the Six Sigma method. How does it work? What it does do? These are some vital aspects we will cover in this article.

What is the Six Sigma Method?

The explanation of Six Sigma lies in its name. In math, sigma denotes the “standard deviation of a Gaussian distribution”, and six is the number. It is a common practice in business that you can’t achieve all your desired results. There is always some variation. The number of errors in a project can be reckoned as a sigma level. If the variance level is small, the performance will be better in the process. As a result, the sigma level will be increased.

Definition of Six Sigma Method:

This method is used for quality management and process approach which blends several processes to aid organizations enhances their items and reducing error rates. In this way, they can lower their manufacturing costs and produce more profits.


Benefits of the Six Sigma Method:

The main purpose of using Six Sigma is to reduce the error rate. Companies that use this principle get the ultimate benefit. Here are five major advantages of using the Six Sigma method,

1- Sustainability:

This method enables companies to achieve long-term success. It is because it gives a clear picture of a process and reduces errors. In short, it gives the perfect foundation for improvement and aids to change the environment according to the changing market conditions.

2- Customer Satisfaction:

The Six Sigma method gives a higher preference to customers. After all, companies want to fulfill the customer’s requirements. This process helps companies to obtain beneficial results without disturbing manufacturing costs.

3- Enhanced Value:

Companies can enhance their value to consumers by using this method. This method provides a clear idea of customers’ needs to a company and they can target customers accordingly.

4- Corporate Culture:

It helps to establish an excellent connection between managers and employees. They can clearly understand each other and communicate effectively. So, this is one of the biggest advantages of implementing this method into your company.

5- A Learning Organization:

This method enables managers and employees to share their thoughts and suggestions. In this way, a company can position itself in the competitive market easily.


How is the Six Sigma Method Applied in Business Practice?

This method contains a range of various management techniques for process optimization and quality control. It is denoted as the Six Sigma Toolkit. In this regard, the five-phase model is very crucial and famous and is generally referred to as the DMAIC cycle,

  • Define:

In the initial stage, you recognize the process that needs to be improved. After this, you identify the problem and the process. Then you find out the scope of the project and the target values.

  • Measure:

In this phase, you study quality-related factors relating to the outcomes of the process. It uses different methods to analyze the current status.

  • Analyze:

In this phase, you find out the rough chain of the issues and the causes.

  • Improve:

You improve the whole process using different techniques.

  • Control:

In the last phase, you control the adapted process using different methods to ensure the improvement is long-term.

You can also modify this five-phase DMAIC cycle by replacing the “improve” phase with an “engineer” phase.


Employees have different roles in the Six Sigma Method improvement project. It is crucial for employees to determine the actual task and arrange it in hierarchical order to understand their responsibilities and roles. It is based on the belts such as Yellow, Green, Black, Master belts, and Champion. Employees and managers can achieve certification for each belt.

  • Yellow Belt:

It is an entry-level belt that offers a complete overview of Six Sigma’s basics. Employees that have yellow belts can help with projects. It is necessary for achieving additional certifications.

  • Green Belt:

Those who have green belts, they have advanced methodological knowledge. They can easily manage their roles in a project.

  • Black Belt:

Employees or managers with a black belt can lead difficult Six Sigma projects. They have advanced technical knowledge and skills. They play a huge role in the process of a project.

  • Master Black Belt:

People with a master’s black belt are completely accountable for the process. They handle strategic decisions and are in charge of employees. They also define the standards for the organization.

  • Champion:

They come from upper or middle management. They are not responsible for day-to-day business activities. Champions just choose, start, control, and support different aspects of a project.


Success Factors When Implementing Six Sigma Method:

The implementation success of Six Sigma depends on several factors. Banuelas and Antony have explored the most crucial factors for a successful implementation. Here are some factors,

  • Involvement of management
  • Clearly understanding the methodology
  • Linking to the business strategy
  • Linking to customers
  • Selection of project
  • Organizational infrastructure
  • Corporate cultural change
  • Project management expertise
  • Linking to suppliers
  • Training project members
  • Linking to planning

Six Sigma vs. Lean Management:

Generally speaking, the real forms of these two methods are really different. But, both are used for process optimization. On the other hand, you can combine both methods according to the needs of your project because they do not overlap with one another.

Six Sigma focuses on reducing errors and boosting effectiveness while lean management helps to increase efficiency and avoids waste. Lean management provides fast solutions while Six Sigma provides the best solutions. Six Sigma uses project-driven implementation while lean management uses an event-driven implementation process. Lean management saves time while Six Sigma saves money. Six Sigma uses both complex and simple tools but lean management uses only a few tools.


The Spread and History of the Six Sigma Method:

The main aim was to reduce the error rate in the process. Companies like IBM, Kodak, and ABB have adopted this method. This method got popular in the 1990s. It was used only in the production industries at the start but now you can implement the Six Sigma method in different areas and service industries. In 2000, companies started combining lean management with Six Sigma. That’s why it is referred to as “Lean Sigma” or “Lean Six Sigma”. Indeed, it is one of the best methods for reducing error rates and process optimization.


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