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Six Sigma Implementation Strategies [2024 Guide]

Six Sigma Implementation Strategies

Six Sigma is a data-driven set of tools and techniques that focuses on reducing the rate of defects or errors in operations. Most of the world’s largest organizations use this methodology to meet quality standards, increase profitability, and improve their processes to stay ahead of the competition. But how do they do it?

There are many ways to approach Six Sigma implementation. However, the main secret to success lies in effective Six Sigma training. Whether you’re looking to break into a quality management career or want to add value to your current organization, Six Sigma’s knowledge and applicable skills can help you achieve these goals.

This article will discuss Six Sigma implementation strategies, the major steps to follow, and other helpful tips. At the end of this piece, we’ll recommend a Six Sigma training course to build your skills and hands-on experience.

Why Do Companies Use Six Sigma?

Six Sigma has proved to be a beneficial methodology for enhancing the product quality and profitability of businesses worldwide. The tag of implementing Six Sigma seals a company’s credibility and raises its brand value.

If we look closer, there are certain key reasons companies opt for Six Sigma. Let’s go through some of them.

Lower Wastage and Defects

Six Sigma’s primary motive is to reduce the errors and scrap generated by process faults. It uses a statistical approach to identify the exact reason for most errors and determines metrics to evaluate the efficacy of the corrective actions.

Efficient Use of Resources

Six Sigma uses a data-driven methodology that evaluates the quantities of resources. It helps reduce the proportion of wasted, unused, or over-used resources. The inventory and overhead costs are reduced, resulting in an enhanced financial bottom line for the company.

Foster a Responsible Work Culture

Six Sigma involves all teams working closely to assess the process, identify the root cause, and implement and monitor the corrective actions. It cultivates a sense of responsibility among the personnel toward monitoring and maintaining quality.

Cut Down Production Costs

Six Sigma helps optimize the production process and eliminates or improves the areas that lead to the most waste. If a step is deemed unnecessary, it is removed or combined with another step, reducing production time and costs.

Higher Customer Retention

Consistency in the quality of existing products and releasing improved versions of products help retain customers. 6 Sigma implementation provides concrete proof of the company’s priorities regarding product quality.

Also Read: Six Sigma Tools: Here’s Top Powerful Tools You Should Know in 2024

Some Key Six Sigma Strategies

Multiple sectors have implemented Six Sigma successfully. However, the strategies used in each case differ as per the unique requirements of each industry.

As a Six Sigma expert, you must be aware of the different techniques commonly used to make the most suitable selection for the project at hand. Here are the most popular Six Sigma implementation strategies.

5 Whys

The 5 Whys strategy is also called the root cause analysis strategy. In this strategy, the motive is to identify the root cause of the issues with the help of the question ‘Why.’ As part of the ‘Analyze’ step of the DMAIC cycle, you ask why the process follows a sequence, why certain parameters are used, whether a specific inspection is used, etc.

5S System

The 5s system consists of Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set In Order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). This Japanese technique relies on going through the process to identify bottlenecks, defective tools, or wasteful steps. This technique is useful when the process has seen repetitive delays or a significant loss of money due to a certain process stage.

Kaizen

Kaizen is a strategy typically used in the manufacturing sector. It is a continuous improvement process aiming to identify and correct flaws. Corrective actions are implemented even for the smallest problems rather than overhauling the entire process. This helps in incremental improvements and results in regular process enhancements.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is critical in Six Sigma, especially when the problem demands an innovative solution. Usually performed in the ‘Improve’ stage of the DMAIC method, it involves a detailed understanding of the analysis and forming ideas to address the problem most effectively.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a strategy for comparing a business or process with other companies or processes. It establishes quantitative benchmarks or metrics that define the quality and condition of the process or business. Benchmarking may be internal, functional, or competitive.

Poka-yoke

Poka-yoke is a Japanese technique for identifying potential errors and taking measures to prevent them. It aims to reduce the chances of errors and requires an ability to foresee and predict possible inefficiencies. This strategy is common in the manufacturing sector.

Voice of the Customer

The ‘Voice of the Customer’ is a critical strategy in which customer feedback is chosen as the source to identify process flaws. The feedback may be obtained by internal or external means. The motive is to evaluate the customer’s needs and complaints and identify product usability gaps.

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a strategy for charting the existing process flow and information transfer and developing a new project. The goal is to identify seven types of waste in the process and redesign those parts to form improved and leaner versions.

Also Read: Six Sigma Black Belt Salaries in 2024: Everything You Need to Know!

How to Implement Lean Six Sigma

Once the appropriate strategy is chosen, you must follow certain steps to implement Six Sigma to obtain maximum output. While the exact steps may vary from organization to organization, here’s a list of the steps typically followed.

Step 1: Bring management on board with the idea.

Communicate to strategic management that implementing Six Sigma is necessary. You must have their support to make the implementation of Six Sigma a strategic goal and ensure its organization-wide acceptance.

Step 2: Prepare the personnel for the implementation.

Assemble a team of people knowledgeable and experienced in Six Sigma implementation. Arrange training for those employees who are closely associated with the process. Ensure the company has all the tools and resources required for the exercise. Explore hiring mentors who can help you create awareness about Six Sigma in the organization.

Step 3: Finalize roles and responsibilities.

As Six Sigma implementation can be a huge exercise, everyone involved must know who the team leader is. Communicate the tasks and responsibilities of each team member so that there is no confusion regarding the roles. Further, the employees can contact the correct team member with any questions or concerns.

Step 4: Establish the metrics of improvement.

For successful implementation, the people involved must know exactly what they are improving and the value of this improvement for the customer. This way, the employees understand the tangible importance of their role in the improvement exercise. Hence, the metrics and the exact meaning of ‘value to customer’ should be determined so the employees can track them during the implementation and monitoring.

Step 5: Create an action plan.

Develop a lucid action plan for the implementation. You must include the main goals, steps, tasks, and timelines. Provide project risk assessment in terms of resources, ROI, and time. Ensure you have defined the measurement performance indicators and critical-to-quality criteria and determined their acceptable boundary magnitudes.

Step 6: Collect data.

Involve all the designated personnel in collecting as much data as possible from the start. Collate the data and analyze it using the most suitable techniques. Condense the data into predetermined metrics and communicate them regularly to the employees.

Step 7: Develop a continual improvement plan.

Inculcate an environment of commitment to continuous improvement. Implement Six Sigma so that the employees are enthusiastic about working towards quality in the future. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and sharing experiences with other departments to inspire the rest of the organization to conduct their own Six Sigma implementation.

Also Read: What is Value Stream Mapping? Process, Examples, and Everything You Need to Know

Six Sigma Implementation Strategies

Businesses implement Six Sigma in multiple ways. It does not have to be restricted to one department or the organization as a whole.

Here are a few strategies to implement Six Sigma.

  • Organize Six Sigma training for employees who need to complete small implementation projects in their work. This will help them apply the steps to their work first and give them enough practice with the tools.
  • Identify processes with quality complaints or frequent breakdowns and implement a Six Sigma program in their departments. Here, the scope of the implementation will be moderate and focused on only a single operation.
  • Choose the departments with bottlenecks that affect the streamlined working of the other departments. Involve the department personnel in Six Sigma implementation by encouraging them to take a micro and a macro view of their department operation.
  • Include Six Sigma implementation in the company’s strategic goals and encourage employees to look for opportunities. Award the employees who take the initiative in developing implementation projects. Ensure that a crucial 6 Sigma implementation idea is not shot down by middle management or lost in the multiple communication lines.

Tips and Best Practices For Better Implementation

Now that we have discussed the chief features of Six Sigma implementation, here are some tips to enhance the implementation further.

  • Ensure clarity in the scope of the project.
  • To form a team, choose individuals with a background or experience. Every member should have certain basic and unique skills to contribute to the exercise.
  • A Six Sigma Black Belt holder must lead the team.
  • Devise and conduct a pilot project to test out the Six Sigma implementation.
  • Ensure that the same team on the pilot project works on the main 6 Sigma implementation.
  • Arrange training for all the personnel involved in the implementation exercise so that they are knowledgeable about the project’s requirements and the data collection methods.
  • Track the appropriate execution of all the planned activities as per the timelines.
  • Regularly evaluate the progress of the implementation.
  • Make a note of the errors and apply corrective actions.

Start Your Six Sigma Career on the Right Note

Understanding the Six Sigma principles and application-based skills are prerequisites to quality management. To this end, a comprehensive Six Sigma bootcamp can equip you with the essentials.

This program offers a well-rounded marriage of theory and applications. You will learn from industry experts and get hands-on training on Six Sigma implementation through case studies and real-world projects. Upon completion, you will earn a certificate and benefit from opportunities to get a head start in your dream quality management career.

You might also like to read:

A Guide to Six Sigma Projects

Quality Management Process: A Beginner’s Guide

Six Sigma Books Worth Reading

What is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt?

How To Get Six Sigma Green Belt Certification?

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