The Positive Approach To Six Sigma
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Written by Tony Jacowski   

Let's discuss what a Six Sigma initiative is. To put in layman's terms, it is all about improving the capabilities of the business processes by reducing the defect margin to zero, so that there is no scope for poor quality.

Today customers are enlightened and they know that they have lots of options - therefore they value only those products or services that are very high on quality and have consistent and predictable quality. However, most businesses measure their performance or quality on the average of the recent past. This problem was solved by 6 Sigma because it ensures that business don't have to present customers with a variant experience of their performance. In other words, it aims at reducing the variation thus improving the business processes to an extent where the customers will be satisfied with the product or service's quality.

The Six Sigma Approach

It uses an approach which recognizes and eliminates defects through a problem solving method that is both structured and data driven. The approach has to collect all the data, which is then passed on to a statistical analysis unit for further quantitative calculation. Quantitatively, the standard defects ratio is estimated to be 3.4 in a million opportunities where the opportunities mean a chance for non-conformance. If we look at the cost of poor quality in a business process, then for most businesses it is an astounding 20% to 30% of total revenue. 6 Sigma approaches to reduce these defects and achieve world-class quality levels.

A n approach is different from other performance improvement approach because it tackles the problem at its root level, thus eliminating the need for any inspection or reworking. This is unlike other performance improvement programs that first measures the output variation and then puts a check on the problem area (like an inspection program) to reduce organizational defects.

The Six Sigma approach starts its work by first making a note about what is critical to the customer. Once the goal is set, a rigorous analysis is done for each and every business process to assess the perfection, which the customer demands, and to which extend the business is able to deliver. Next it is matched with the data collected to reveal what are the core causes of the defects in the organizational process. The statistical and financial analysis done earlier will then lead to making of an improvement strategy that will aim at improved customer satisfaction, increased profit margin, reduced cycle times and cut costs.

Six Sigma strategies aim at minimizing variations among all critical processes. These processes need not be only manufacturing processes - they can be even billing or new product development related or budgeting or human resource related by which an organization manages its overall operations.

Here an important thing to note is that the implementation part is the most important part of the Six Sigma strategy. And for ensuring that the strategy is a success monetary commitment as well as wholehearted involvement from the employees is very necessary.

Training funds must be utilized in an effective manner. A new working culture will have to be adopted and the Six Sigma leaders need to make sure that the transition is smooth. However, considering the past successes this approach has made the little inconvenience with the new approach is worth the awards that everyone will reap after the business attains success.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions - Six Sigma Online (http://www.sixsigmaonline.org) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.





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