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

Six Sigma Tools

Six Sigma tools enable organizations to increase quality, reduce waste, and eliminate errors in processes and product and service development. Learn all about how to leverage these powerful tools and methodologies to foster excellence and how an online Six Sigma program can provide practical training with these tools and methods.

Six Sigma is a data-driven project management methodology that employs a five-step process to address outstanding organizational issues. It ultimately relies on statistical analysis to minimize defects and product variations.

But every process needs tools, and every process requires the right tools. Sometimes, the choices can be overwhelming. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying, “The right tool for the right job.” That’s excellent advice, but how do you know what tool is “right?”

This article tackles the subject of Six Sigma tools. We will discuss the best and most important ones, including Lean Six Sigma, and how to pick the right tools. We will also cover specific details such as DMAIC Six Sigma.

Let’s begin our journey of Six Sigma knowledge by examining what constitutes a Six Sigma tool.

All About Six Sigma Tools

As previously discussed, Six Sigma is a methodology that helps organizations eliminate waste and inefficiency in business processes. In addition, Six Sigma tools are methodologies and techniques that help analyze and improve those processes.

In many other situations (e.g., coding, programming, writing), the word “tools” typically refers to software, apps, extensions, and downloadable resources. But in Six Sigma’s case, tools typically refer to ideas or procedures rather than a software suite you purchase and download. However, there are applications and utilities you can buy and install.

So, Six Sigma tools are problem-solving tools used to enhance and support Six Sigma and related process improvement efforts. The tools help to identify weaknesses and flaws and, in doing so, improve your organization’s efficiency.

Why are Six Sigma Tools So Important?

While Six Sigma is a methodology that helps eliminate waste and inefficiencies in business processes, Six Sigma tools are the techniques and methods that help to analyze and improve those processes.

If used correctly, Six Sigma tools help eliminate waste, increase employee productivity, and increase profits.

How to Pick the Right Six Sigma Tools

There is no universal solution because only some tools are appropriate for some situations. However, you can use a process to help you choose the right tools for you, your organization, and the tasks.

Whenever you need to decide which tools are right for you, employ the following steps:

  • Learn about the tools. For starters, understand the tools and what they’re used for. Although this may take a little time and effort, it will apply to all future tool decisions once you do it.
  • Consider the context. Pick a tool that fits your unique environment.
  • Employ expert guidance. Put Lean Six Sigma into effect and ensure your team members have appropriate training.
  • Supporting resources. Be aware of extra resources such as software, graphs, charts, and more, which can be pivotal in your Six Sigma activities.

Now that we know what Six Sigma tools are and how to pick the ones that best suit your needs, it’s time to dive into specifics. So here are the best available today.

Presenting the Best Six Sigma Tools

These tools are presented in no specific order but are all proven assets in Six Sigma processing. In addition, some tools described below are used in other listed tools, so expect to see some overlap and redundancy.

DMAIC

This data-driven tool works exceptionally well with Lean Six Sigma. It’s an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, representing the five stages of DMAIC. Six Sigma DMAIC is the most used tool in Six Sigma operations. It helps improve manufacturing methods by employing data and measured objectives. However, you can use many other Six Sigma tools to accomplish each DMAIC Six Sigma stage.

DMADV

This Six Sigma tool is like DMAIC, but in this case, the tool develops new products, processes, or services, while DMAIC works best to improve existing processes. DMADV stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify stages.

The 5S System

The 5S System focuses on workplace and workflow material management and optimization. This tool best deals with waste generated by poor conditions or workstations. This results in a clean, safe, uncluttered, and organized workplace to reduce waste and optimize productivity. The five S’s are:

  • Seiri (Sort): Leave only necessary items. Remove any extra items from current production.
  • Seiton (Set in order): Reduce clutter by organizing and labeling all items accordingly.
  • Seiso (Shine): Keep the work area clean and regularly inspect everything.
  • Seiketsu (Standardize): Write up your standards, then sort them and set them in order.
  • Shitsuke (Sustain): Apply and enforce your company’s standards and get everyone to follow them regularly.

The Five Whys

Here’s another tool that comes in fives. The Five Whys is used to determine the root cause of your organization’s issues and involves progressively asking “Why?” until you discover the source of the problem. This procedure breaks down into these steps:

  • Identify and write down the problem so each team member can see and focus on it.
  • Ask why the issue happened.
  • If your first answer doesn’t identify the problem’s primary cause, ask “Why?” again.
  • Repeat the process at least five times until you arrive at the problem’s primary cause.
  • You’re not limited to five questions; you can ask more questions if necessary.

The Five Whys is typically used during DMAIC’s Analyze phase.

The Kanban System

Kanban is a Japanese word for “billboard” and describes a supply chain control system that focuses on reducing costs using a just-in-time inventory control approach. Put simply, Kanban activates the supply chain only when needed.

For instance, when you go to the supermarket, you buy things based on your short-term needs, not for months or years in advance. Similarly, the supermarket will not stock inventory that it doesn’t expect to sell soon. Instead, your shopping list reflects your immediate needs, and the store adjusts its product supply to reflect customer demand.

Value Stream Mapping

This Six Sigma tool, also called VSM, is another resource used during DMAIC’s Analyze phase and is well-suited for Lean Manufacturing. The value stream map was developed to show a process’s material and information flows to help improve and optimize flow throughout the organization.

VSM is a two-stage process. First, the team draws a visual representation of every function in the information and material flow, creating a production path from start to finish. Then, the group draws a future state map, showing how the value should flow.

Value mapping identifies the following three elements:

  • Value Enabling Activities. These are activities that, when enabled, add value to the process.
  • Value-Adding Activities. These activities add value to the process.
  • Non-value-adding activities. This procedure identifies and eliminates activities that do not add value to the process.

Voice of the Customer

This tool, also called VOC for short, answers the question, “What does the customer need?” The Six Sigma technique collects customers’ requirements and viewpoints using in-person interviews, focus groups, warranty claims, surveys, and social media. Once the team measurably presents the findings, the VOC can provide vital insights into the steps to improve or resolve the defined problem. The team can better understand these steps by creating a Voice of the Customer Table (VOCT).

Poka-Yoke

Poka-Yoke is a Japanese term that means “mistake proofing.” It is a Lean technique designed to prevent and correct mechanical and human errors in the manufacturing or production process as early as possible. In addition, Poka-Yoke uses standardization to help avoid mistakes.

Pareto Chart

This chart illustrates a graphic representation of the Pareto Principle, which tells us that, in any given situation, 20 percent of the input produces 80 percent of the output. The chart combines a vertical bar and a line graph. The bar graph section shows various business process component metrics, from largest to smallest, while the line graph shows the cumulative total of these metrics.

The Pareto Chart is a tool that helps team members visualize what part of the process influences output the most and gives the team a clear idea of what requires their immediate attention. The team must determine the process’s components and how to measure them, then place the findings into the Pareto Chart. This process helps the team see how big of an influence each part’s outcome has.

Here’s a sample Pareto Chart provided by Tallyfy.com.

sample Pareto Chart

Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese word that translates as “continuous improvement.” It is the practice of continuously observing, identifying, and implementing incremental improvement in the manufacturing process. This process involves all employees and managers and encourages them to initiate improvements.

Kaizen rectifies the minor daily inefficiencies using everyone working in the organization’s collective talents, experience, and knowledge. It also helps reduce waste in the production process.

The RACI Matrix

Also called the Responsibility Assignment Matrix, the RACI Matrix outlines each team member’s responsibilities in every task. RACI is an acronym that stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

  • Responsible. Refers to whose role it is to complete the task.
  • Accountable. The team member assigns tasks to everyone else and then monitors their progress.
  • Consulted. Describes the experts on the subject matter and who will guide the people working on the tasks.
  • Informed. Covers the people whom the team notifies when the task is done.

Here’s a sample RACI Matrix, courtesy of Tallyfy.com:

sample RACI Matrix

Project Charter

This tool is such an obvious, common-sense maneuver that, surprisingly, it isn’t a fundamental part of every Six Sigma process. The project charter outlines and defines the project’s purpose and scope, acting as both the blueprint for the business process and the project’s legal authorization. Project charters typically include the project overview and scope, relevant details about the team and its resources, and the timeline. The charter gives the team all the necessary basic information about the project and clarifies its main points.

The project charter helps the team maintain a clear understanding of the project, assisting people in maintaining focus and cutting down on chaos.

A Further Sampling of Six Sigma Tools

Here are a few more Six Sigma tools for your consideration.

  • Regression Analysis. This tool is a statistical method that helps determine the extent of the relationship between two variables. If the relationship is strong enough, you can accurately identify a variable’s values based on another variable’s values using a simple linear formula.
  • FMEA. The acronym means Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. It helps businesses spot and remove weak points by reviewing the causes and effects of assemblies, components, and subsystems.
  • Histogram. Histograms are the visual representation of data’s frequency distribution. With this tool, Six Sigma professionals can quickly and easily identify the variations in graph form, thus locating where problems exist in processes so they can be rectified with corrective measures.
  • Fishbone Diagram. Fishbone diagrams are cause-and-effect visual tools designed to find the root cause of problems. They combine mind mapping and brainstorming methods to ascertain the root causes of problems.
  • Statistical Process Control. An SPC chart tracks the progress of processes over time, helping to identify the precise spot and degree of any variations. Once the variation is located, you can apply the proper corrective measures.

Do You Want to Master Six Sigma Tools?

Lean Six Sigma is a popular process, so there is an increased likelihood of encountering it during your professional career. It would be helpful if you prepared for this eventuality by taking this valuable Lean Six Sigma Certification bootcamp and getting a head start on the competition.

This Post Graduate Program in Lean Six Sigma, delivered by Simplilearn in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, will transform you into a Lean Six Sigma expert. The course dramatically boosts your career in quality management while teaching you necessary and valuable Lean Six Sigma skills. You will benefit from masterclasses conducted by UMass faculty and solve real-world business problems using an outstanding collection of hands-on projects and case studies.

The Lean Six Sigma Certification course teaches you:

  • Agile Management
  • Digital Transformation
  • Lean Management
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Minitab
  • Quality Management

The program is aligned with IASSC-Lean Six Sigma and is taught by respected industry professionals active in their specialized fields.

Salary.com reports that the median salary for Green Belt Lean Six Sigma professionals working in the United States is $115,800, with a maximum of over $128K. Stay current and stay caught up. Check out this essential course and better equip yourself to face the challenges of today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world. Make your first move into Six Sigma today!

FAQ

Q: What are Six Sigma tools?
A: Here’s a sample of tools that help Sigma professionals solve problems.

  • Value Stream Mapping
  • FMEA
  • Pareto Chart
  • Histogram
  • The 5 Whys
  • Fishbone Diagram
  • Kanban
  • Kaizen

Q: Is 5S a Six Sigma tool?
A: Yes, the 5S system is a vital component of Lean Six Sigma.

Q: What is Kaizen Six Sigma?
A: Kaizen and Lean Six Sigma are methodologies designed to increase customer satisfaction, realize lasting improvement of the company’s results, and continuously improve constructively. Both methods accomplish these goals by reducing waste and variation. Lean Six Sigma emphasizes the organization’s financial results, while Kaizen tries to bring the entire organization into the process.

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6 months

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Online Bootcamp

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