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Six Sigma: Seven Tips For Implementing This Project Management Process

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/27/2013

This article looks at seven ways Six Sigma can be implemented for maximum benefit. Securing management buy-in, taking advantage of training, setting organizational goals--these are just a few of the methods for optimizing implementation of this methodology.

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    It's been a few years since Six Sigma caught the project management world by storm. If you're new to using it, be advised that you're going to realize maximum benefits. It is no wonder why, because it delivers on its promise of increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. Here is a list of seven ways Six Sigma can be implemented.

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    1. Make Sure Management is On-Board

    Without a supportive management team, any project management system is doomed to fail. Six Sigma is especially susceptible to this, as it requires full participation and commitment from the top down in order to be successful. Even one wavering manager could be a problem, as employees cannot be expected to follow where managers will not go. Six Sigma is a process, and the leaders will help a smooth transition process.

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    2. Take Full Advantage of Available Training Programs

    Those who use Six Sigma are lucky, as there is a plethora of training material available. In addition to the courses available through Six Sigma, there have been numerous books and articles written on this project management method. Because of the availability, there is no reason not to take part in the training process. In fact, it should be required of everyone utilizing Six Sigma to become certified in Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt, Champion, or Lean Six Sigma.

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    3. Set Organizational Goals

    By setting clear organizational (rather than project-specific goals) your project team can best hone in on the areas to focus on. Organizational goals will look at ways to boost the bottom line of the entire company. That way, no matter what project or metric the team looks to improve, it stays focused upon the main meaningful objectives of the company throughout. Without clear goals, the team will drift in a sea without a compass.

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    4. Analyze the Current System

    Analyze the current system for defects. Where is the process going wrong? Are customers unhappy with the service they receive? Defects must be identified. Once identified, then the causal chain can be looked at. Why are customers dissatisfied? Once defect causes are noted, then possible solutions can be proposed. By skipping this vital Six Sigma step, metrics will not provide useful information and holes in the data can arise.

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    5. Improve the System Through Benchmarking

    Benchmarking is a tool that looks at how things can be done better. By putting research time in, team members can determine the best way to solve issues. For more information on benchmarking and other tracking methods, see my article Six Sigma Tracking Techniques. By using this method of tracking, the company can help ensure that it is using the best available methods for preventing defects.

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    6. Utilize Six Sigma Metrics to Their Fullest Capability

    By using continuous data as a metric, the success of any implementation can be carefully monitored. It is vital that the team members monitor the correct data and that they do so carefully. If this data becomes clouded, or metrics are not used to their full capacity, then the team may fall off course and there may be more defects than measured.

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    7. Encourage Intra-office Communication

    Communication is vital for any relationship. Communication is even more vital when it comes to project management. Without communicating clear goals, expectations, task lists, or progress, nobody knows where the project stands, whether a given task has been done, or what the quality standards are. Thus, the most important implementation of Six Sigma must be a clear method for communication among company employees.

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