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Why Choose Six Sigma Methodology for Project Management?

Why Choose Six Sigma Methodology for Project Management

Project management involves planning and organizing business resources to realize the best possible process and achieve operational excellence. Organizations adopting tried and true project management practices are often highly successful. Enter the Six Sigma methodology.

Consequently, the output quality and methods to ensure it have come to the fore. Six Sigma is a methodology used to analyze and ascertain quality, the use of which has grown by leaps and bounds due to its universal applicability. Professionals with the Six Sigma certification are naturally sought after for their skills to enable organizations to accomplish profitability and efficiency.

In this article, we will discuss what Six Sigma is, its key benefits, and uses. We will also cover how a well-designed Lean Six Sigma program can provide the fundamentals and knowledge required to help you get a foot through the door in this field.

What is the Six Sigma Methodology?

Six Sigma lean methodology is a statistical approach to minimize process variation, reduce errors and defects, and improve quality and efficiency to enhance business processes. A structured method called DMAIC is used to recognize and eradicate the deviations. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

The objective of Six Sigma is to attain a near-perfect level of quality, where there are only 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Developed by Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986, this methodology was later adopted by Jack Welch at General Electric. Since then, it has been implemented by multiple industries from diverse sectors.

There are five levels of the Six Sigma certification, named after the levels of martial arts:

  1. White Belt: This entry-level certification will enable you to understand the Six Sigma principles and assist the teams as an external support.
  2. Yellow Belt: As a yellow belt, you will be fairly acquainted with the principles and applications and help or manage small projects.
  3. Green Belt: Being a green belt puts you in the core team where you will use your advanced statistical and analytical skills for solving quality control problems, lead Six Sigma projects with the help of more senior peers, and assist them in data collection and analysis.
  4. Black Belt: As a black belt, you will lead and train Six Sigma teams and assist master black belt personnel.
  5. Master Black Belt: Being a master black belt will enable you to lead and manage full-fledged Six Sigma projects, where you will delegate tasks and implement the principles. You may also be a part of strategy planning.

Finally, a Six Sigma Champion is a part of the organization and is tasked with adopting the Six Sigma lean methodology across all the departments.

Also Read: What is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt?

How Does the Six Sigma Method Help in Project Management?

Six Sigma is a project management methodology that can be applied to any sector, from finance to manufacturing. A prime example is electronics giant Motorola, which reduced the defect rate while manufacturing cellphones by 99 percent after implementing the Six Sigma methodology. This saved the company $2.4 billion over a four-year period.

Here are some key benefits of the Six Sigma lean methodology:

  • Increase in efficiency: Six Sigma helps pinpoint areas of the process that can benefit from small tweaks in order to enhance the process efficiency. This further reduces the lifecycle time and results in efficient time management.
  • Error reduction: The exact parts of the process that experience the most frequent errors and the reasons for those can be identified using Six Sigma.
  • Waste reduction: By detecting and reducing common errors and steps that result in significant material wastage, Six Sigma can help reduce losses.
  • Ubiquitous applicability: Six Sigma is a tool that utilizes principles of statistics. Hence, it can be applied to the operation processes of any industry, from software and chemicals to FMCG and banking.
  • Increased revenue: Reducing errors, increasing efficiency, and reducing wastage will enhance the bottom line and streamline cash flow.
  • Legal compliance: Implementation of Six Sigma ensures that, along with quality improvement, the processes comply with local and international regulations.
  • Enhanced customer loyalty: Consistency in production quantity, timing, and quality ensures that customers keep returning to avail of the products and services.
  • Strong work culture: Executing a lean methodology irons out the issues in the process instructions and enables the reallocation of overlapping tasks, resulting in clarity of work profiles and a healthy work culture.

When to Use Six Sigma Methodology?

Organizations choose to adopt the Six Sigma lean methodology in various situations, primarily focusing on improving existing processes. Here are a few of such circumstances:

  • Organizations may use Six Sigma when facing a certain issue in production or financial losses but have been unable to pinpoint the reason. Six Sigma enables a thread-bare analysis of each process and the output quality, isolating the exact problem.
  • Problems observed in a complex process warrant implementing the Six Sigma approach, wherein the process will be broken down into parts for individual analysis of the problems.
  • Multiple problems spread throughout the organization that may be hindering the streamlining of the process or causing bottlenecks can be identified using the Six Sigma methodology.
  • Ongoing customer dissatisfaction expressed through complaints and negative feedback requires more than a consoling and assuring reply. Six Sigma can help trace the issues back from the complaints and include feedback in the steps to improve the quality of the process.

Also Read: What Is Total Productive Maintenance? Here’s What You Need to Know

Is Six Sigma Methodology the Best Option for Your Project?

Well begun is half done. Choosing the right project management strategy is as crucial as its implementation. Fortune 500 companies that use Six Sigma have saved almost $427 billion over the last 20 years.

You may want to choose this lean methodology if your project satisfies one or more of the following conditions:

#1. The problem to be solved is sufficiently complex, and the scope of the problem is practical.

For example, increasing the revenue of the entire clothing retail organization by 30% is too big a scope. However, reducing the refunds by analyzing the major issues such as the delivery of the wrong color, online provision for the customers to view the apparel exactly how it looks on them, and correct information about the stock is a problem that is complex enough but manageable.

#2. The motive should be aligned to the strategic and financial goals of the company, and also present a significant impact on the company finances.

For example, if the annual goal is to increase production by increasing the number of shifts and workers while maintaining the error rate at the current level, then utilizing Six Sigma to reassess the same production process is an exercise in futility. On the other hand, if the motive is to boost the quality of the production output by reducing the error rate, then the choice to implement Six Sigma is perfect.

#3. The availability of accurate and reliable data is critical for the successful execution of this methodology as it is rooted in statistics. The problem should also fit within the DMAIC principles.

For example, if a software company wants to identify the bottlenecks in its development process, it needs to know the time required for each part of the process, the number of people involved, the number of hours spent by each person, etc.

#4. The risk and feasibility of deploying the Six Sigma methodology and its recommendations should be critical.

Suppose a banking company wants to increase the time of customer onboarding. Six Sigma adoption should consider the capacity of the organization to implement its recommendations without compromising on data security while being financially viable.

#5. The company must have a team well-versed in Six Sigma. That’s because efficiently implementing this methodology requires the team to be knowledgeable and experienced in the fundamentals as well as in the practical application of the procedure. They should be innovative enough to resolve any roadblocks during the process.

Reasons Why Professionals and Companies Should Get Six Sigma Certification

Six Sigma certification consists of five levels—white, yellow, green, black, and master black. Professionals may choose to gain these certifications individually, or companies may organize a Lean Six Sigma bootcamp for their employees.

Either way, the professionals and the companies gain substantially from these efforts. Let’s take a quick look at the reasons why these certifications are extremely useful.

#1. The knowledge applies across all sectors and verticals without any restriction. As a professional, you can expand your horizons beyond your core background. Moreover, organizations can utilize the knowledge for quality improvement in all operational channels.

#2. You can use the skills for process improvements in your work tasks and take the initiative in identifying opportunities for applying the methodology in your organization as a whole.

#3. If you have a customer-facing role or your organization has received negative customer feedback, recommending and undertaking the Six Sigma approach for quality enhancement will add a feather to your cap.

#4. Maximum utilization of the organization’s resources by employees skilled in Six Sigma is a great consequence of such certifications.

#5. Your skills will make you conspicuous among your peers and help you qualify for leadership positions. Here’s a snapshot of the average salaries in 2023 for the various certifications:

#6. The stature of the organization improves among the competitors, stakeholders, and customers once it is certified as having implemented the Six Sigma methodology.

Also Read: What Is Process Mapping & How to Create It?

Boost Your Career with the Lean Six Sigma Program

The Six Sigma methodology is a great practice that organizations regularly apply to enhance the quality of various processes. Combining this with lean manufacturing and lean enterprise philosophy enhances its applicability via multiple problem-solving approaches.

Are you ready to get a head start on the certifications? Choose a well-structured program, such as the Lean Six Sigma program. The program includes skill development in Agile Management, Digital Transformation, and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, among others. The participants will also apply their knowledge by working on intensive real-world case studies.

Enroll today to unlock the path to a rewarding career!

You might also like to read:

What is Process Capability? Index, Formula, Example & Everything to Know

Six Sigma Principles: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing and Optimizing Your Processes

Six Sigma vs. Lean Six Sigma: Which Methodology Is Right for Your Business?

What is the Theory of Constraints? Here’s What You Need to Know with Examples

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

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