Started by Motorola Inc. in an effort to reduce defects in manufacturing, Six Sigma can also applied to other business processes for the same purpose. As the methodology evolved, emphasis has been less on finding defects per million opportunities (DPMO) and more on improving the business methodology that focuses on:
- Understanding and managing customer requirements
- Aligning key business processes to achieve those requirements
- Using rigorous data analysis to minimize variation in processes
- Promoting fast and sustainable business process improvement
At the core of the methodology, there are two models; the DMAIC model - used for existing processes that fall below specification and seek incremental improvement - and the DMADV process – an improvement system used to develop new process or products at the Six Sigma quality levels.
The implementation of the Six Sigma methodology starts with a preliminary problem definition analysis, then, it uses statistics and quality tools to transform the results to solve problems effectively. Process metrics and structured methodology applied to improvement opportunities are then linked to the organization’s strategy.
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The aim of implementing Six Sigma in organizations is to enhance quality, through continuous improvement of the processes involved in production, in a structured way, considering all aspects that are important for the business. This methodology also prioritizes increasing profitability, as many efforts are focused on reducing the costs of quality and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of all the operations that cater for customers’ needs. Other benefits include:
- Align their business strategy with critical improvement efforts
- Mobilize teams to effectively manage high impact projects
- Accelerate improved business results
- Govern efforts to ensure that improvements are maintained
- Reduce organizational costs
- Significant increase in productivity and quality of products and service
- Increase and retention of customers
- Elimination of activities that do not add value
- Beneficial change in organizational culture