Six Sigma implementations aim at achieving near perfect production wherein the number of defects is substantially reduced. However, Six Sigma implementations are definitely not easy because they often require a major overhaul of existing business processes, which in turn requires extensive analysis and documentation.
Understanding The Six Sigma Pyramid
Six Sigma quality levels can be described with the help of a pyramid, wherein the base of the pyramid represents the current quality levels of a business. The aim is to move up the pyramid to make gradual improvements in the quality level such as sigma 1 to sigma 2, sigma 2 to sigma 3, and so on until the top quality level, Six Sigma, is not achieved. Every stage or quality level requires the use specialized statistical tools, about which the Six Sigma implementation teams should have in-depth knowledge and expertise.
Some Basic Tools
Businesses aiming for achieving sigma 3 or sigma 4 quality levels need to utilize Six Sigma measurement, analysis, and documentation tools. These tools will help in measuring the current percentage of material wastage, which is usually in the range of 50 to 60 percent if the company’s existing quality level is sigma 1. At sigma 2 levels, the wastage is around 33 percent, which means that there is still plenty of scope for improvement. Once the level of wastage is identified with the help of these tools, the Six Sigma implementation team can then start making the necessary changes in processes to achieve the next quality level.
Industry Specific Tools
A use of a particular Six Sigma tool depends on the type of industry. For example, in industries having high volume transactions, it would be impossible to measure and analyze each transaction. As such, only those tools are used that are designed to identify high value transactions based on predetermined logical parameters. These tools will allow a business to give priority to the improvement of most vital processes that deal with high value transactions.
Such tools are necessary for ensuring the success of Six Sigma implementation projects because higher quality levels cannot be achieved until and unless all the high value business processes are not utilized to their full potential. The full potential of a business process can only be realized when it reaches maximum optimization levels or achieves Six Sigma quality levels. All this can only be achieved by employing the right Six Sigma tools and techniques in the right business process.
For selecting the right tools, businesses need to opt for the expert advice of Six Sigma professionals. Although the tools are more or less the same used by engineers, supervisors, and other technicians, expert advice is still valued because it is only the Six Sigma professionals who know how to utilize the information generated through Six Sigma tools and techniques in a proper manner.
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions - Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.