A Process Improvement Paradigm
Six Sigma is best known as a process improvement paradigm that incorporates the DMAIC methodology. DMAIC provides excellent tools for assessing process performance, identifying process problems and their root causes, and implementing solutions that successfully counter those root causes.
In some cases, though, a company needs to design a new process, product or service from scratch. That may be because nothing yet exists, or it may be because whatever exists is not capable of meeting customer and business requirements even with incremental improvement. In such a situation, the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodology provides the necessary framework and tools for success.
Learn more about DFSS in these articles:
Some larger companies provide DFSS training for employees who will be in key Six Sigma roles such as Black Belts. DFSS may be incorporated into overall Six Sigma training, or additional course work may be required of individuals who will be managing or conducting DFSS projects. Often individuals going through DFSS training have already completed Six Sigma and DMAIC training, but that is not necessarily a prerequisite.
When offered alone, full DFSS training programs generally last about a week. Training may be offered at the Green Belt, Black Belt, or Master Black Belt level. Some companies also offer shorter training programs for business executives and others who need an awareness of how DFSS works but will not be conducting DFSS projects themselves.
Participants are exposed to the overall philosophy of Six Sigma and DFSS and to effective project management techniques. The training curriculum may include a section on creating an effective project charter, and another on establishing an organizational change plan.
Many companies and training programs rely on the DMADV framework for DFSS projects. This framework follows five phases — Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify — in the same way that the DMAIC process works for process improvement projects. Other programs focus on a variant of DMADV or a framework they have established independently, but the overall approach and elements tend to be similar.
The DFSS methodology focuses heavily on understanding customer requirements, so training programs typically spend quite a bit of time discussing voice of the customer (VOC) principles and tools. Students in a DFSS training program will likely learn about requirement gathering techniques such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews, as well as options for analyzing existing data such as product returns and customer complaints.
Additional tools allow project teams to evaluate customer input and identify customer requirements and are thus a key part of DFSS training. These include the Kano model, Pareto charts, affinity diagrams, and Quality Function Deployment (QFD) or House of Quality (HOQ). The goal of training in these areas is to help participants understand the process of converting customer statements about their needs and expectations for a product or service into specific actionable criteria, known as critical to quality characteristics (CTQs).
The next section of a DFSS training program focuses on using information about customer requirements to guide development of a high-level design for the new product or service. If the QFD has not already been introduced, it will be at this point, as it is a key tool used in translating customer requirements into design elements using a step-by-step process.
Participants also learn about techniques for selecting the appropriate design, creating detailed design plans, and conducting a risk assessment. Finally, participants learn about implementing the final design, verifying the results, and establishing a plan for maintaining performance. Training in these areas may cover tools such as failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), process simulation, design of experiments (DOE) and conducting pilot programs.
Resources For Training
If your company does not offer DFSS training or you are self-employed, you have a variety of training options from which to choose. Some include online components or are offered exclusively online, while others require attendance in a classroom setting.
In selecting a DFSS training program, be sure to clarify your objectives, budget, and learning style and gather sufficient details about each available program to find the best match.
Here are some training programs you might consider:
Prerequisites differ so check each program's details carefully and make sure you already have the required knowledge base to benefit from the curriculum.
This post is part of the series: Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
- Design for Six Sigma – Process
- Design For Six Sigma – Tools
- Design for Six Sigma Methodology: Training For Your Team