Six Sigma to me was only in books; until I started working with my new client company Hexion. Hexion has implemented Six Sigma programming across all its global organizations, and has made this a core process in its business operations. The Global Six Sigma & Business Improvement Award winner, is one of the best examples of a global business community – on how organizations have benefited greatly through the successful deployment of Six Sigma.
Why companies embrace Six Sigma
Companies understand the need for Six Sigma because they realize that if they do not implement it then they lose lot more than what they might gain. Facts reveal that Six Sigma improves efficiency, saves cost and facilitates easier and logical ways of working.
Measure of quality
Six Sigma is a measure of quality. Six Sigma standard defines finding 3.4 bad apple in 1 million of them. If you buy 20 apples a week that would mean you may get 1 bad apple every 320 years; i.e. you are very unlikely to get a bad apple.
Companies define their 6 sigma level differently. Some company define their 6 sigma level as 3.4 (DPM) defects per million, while others may use 0.1 DPM level. This depends on the product application and their customer expectation.
If you are using 100 components to build a product; getting 3.4 DPM from each of the components may not work for you as the total defect inherit will be 3.4*100= 340 DPM OR 1 defect in every 2940 products. And thus, for you to be at 3.4 DPM level; all of your components suppliers need to be at 3.4/100 DPM level i.e. 0.034 DPM.
Business performance guidelines: DMAIC
Following milestones can be thought of as a roadmap for problem solving and product/process improvement.
Define: What problem would you like to fix?
Measure: How does the process currently perform?
Analyze: What does your data tell you?
Improve: How will you fix the problem?
Control: How do you sustain the newly achieved improvement?
How Mary improved her business?
Mary runs a landscaping business. She was getting business from all around the city including residential customers to large corporate customers. All her employees were doing well and all of them making good money. Everything looked good. But Mary had a problem – she was barely making a profit. The only way of making a profit would have been to increase the income or decrease the expenses.
Mary’s friend John, who is a Six Sigma specialist, started helping her with the business. John noticed that the flowers Mary bought were not all billed, especially for the large customers. She admits that she sometimes forgets to bill the additional flowers she uses for landscaping – that is where she was losing her money! John suggested a way to help Mary estimate better so that a customer is billed for all the flowers he is using. This helped Mary increase her income.
Another thing John noticed was that the flowers bought from supplier A were dying more often than those from the other suppliers, B and C. Mary stopped buying from supplier A and increased the orders from supplier B and supplier C. This reduced the additional cost incurred for replanting and any other labor charges.
Now the profit is high with the increase in income and reduction in expenses, with the same infrastructure and same people. What John used here was the business performance guidelines of Six Sigma.
Quality within all industries is important, but within the manufacturing industry, it is essential. Six Sigma quality programming theory promises less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities – it is worth exploring in any domain, especially this one! As technology becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, exploring these theories together is important for any manufacturer. Decision makers should be fed with data in a way that is easy to analyze and understand. Tools should be chosen wisely and should get you the right dashboard and reporting capabilities you are looking for your business process.
At its core Six Sigma is really fairly simple. Putting together the right tools in the right way makes Six Sigma an easy to use technique. Most of the time basic tools will solve the problem and that’s what it requires!
About the author
Hebin Jacob is a technology evangelist who has major interests in CMS and CRM systems. He has helped enterprise clients across the globe to find technical solutions for their business needs. Hebin believes that the key for customer satisfaction is the Product/Service quality.
Connect with him on: https://in.linkedin.com/in/hebinjacob