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Implementation of Six Sigma
Implementing Six Sigma seems like such a daunting task when you first approach it. You want your business to become more profitable, but is Six Sigma the answer? Before we go into how to carry out institutionalizing Six Sigma, it might be helpful to understand why an organization would want to use it in the first place.
Six Sigma involves restructuring your whole organization from the top down. Six Sigma is a business management strategy to increase profitability by drastically reducing errors. The goal is to develop processes or products that have no more than 3.4 defects per million events. Six Sigma combines tried and true methods, such as statistics, into one streamlined methodology. Generally, companies who have instituted Six Sigma spend significantly less on fixing problems.
But, the question is how do you begin? First of all everything starts with the senior management of the company. Remember that this is a top-down strategy, so at least one executive should be the champion and sponsor. Hopefully, once Six Sigma produces noticeable results, its success will become viral and infect the other employees within the organization, and they too will provide visible support and commitment for the process.
Flexibility and an open mind is critical to the success of Six Sigma. Creativity must be fostered and organizational barriers must be dissolved.
Once the decision to implement Six Sigma is made, it may be advantageous to bring in consultants to help jump-start the process. The next part of the operation is to build an infrastructure by establishing support and communication between all involved. This includes everyone from the vendors to the employees. Once this infrastructure is put into place, employee training can commence.
Black Belts (they primarily focus on Six Sigma project execution) should be the individuals who ensure that key employees receive the proper training and certification. Therefore, when you are calculating the cost of Six Sigma, the salary for experienced Black Belts should to be figured into your budget.
Once the training program is in place, be sure to vigorously monitor it so that it remains results-oriented. If not, you will waste a lot of time and money on a mere training exercise. Six Sigma is expensive, but the savings in the end are well worth the up-front costs.
The management team must then decide which processes need improvement. These improvements are made within a framework designed specifically for this purpose. You must have a monitoring system to ensure progress and success. The main goal of the Six Sigma management strategy is to see measurable financial outcomes.
Once your infrastructure is in place and the procedures that need improvement are decided upon, your Black Belts (whether consultants or employees) will assist the Green Belts and employees in executing projects. Please ensure that your projects are not too broadly focused. Finally, constantly review and readjust. Once you solve your initial core problems, start on the next problems. Don't stop until all processes have been transformed and reengineered.
Before you start instituting Six Sigma, do your homework and calculate the costs. Perhaps you only need to use certain parts of it and not the entire method. Six Sigma is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. It is flexible enough to fit most organizations. Using Six Sigma consistently and with the support of all involved will certainly increase the efficiency of your company and save you money.
For more information on Six Sigma, you're invited to read these additional articles: