Although Six Sigma was originally devised as a quality improvement technique for the manufacturing industry, it is now increasingly being adopted by the services industry as well. The basic Six Sigma concepts and methodologies are more or less the same in the services sector where they are applied to both operational and non-operational processes.
Defining Six Sigma
Motorola was the first company to develop and implement Six Sigma concepts in its business processes. The main aim of the company was to reduce manufacturing defects and to achieve near perfect production processes that would help in production maximization. Six Sigma implementation projects aim at bringing the number of defects to not more than 3.4 per million opportunities that exist for such defects to occur.
This standard is applicable for both manufacturing industries as well as the services sector. Six Sigma implementations start with the assessment of current quality levels, which are termed as 1 sigma, 2 sigma, and so on. The aim is continuous quality improvements until Six Sigma quality levels are achieved.
Six Sigma In Small Businesses
Six Sigma can be effectively employed in small businesses irrespective of whether the business is a manufacturing unit or is servicing a customer base. Even in small businesses, Six Sigma aims at perfecting existing business processes and assessing the real costs of the business such as COPQ (Cost of Poor Quality). At first glance, it may seem that Six Sigma is suitable only for large businesses because of multimillion-dollar savings and huge reduction in the number of defects. However, this not mean that Six Sigma will not be cost-effective in small businesses as standard concepts and methodologies can always be tweaked to suit small scale process requirements and for reducing implementation costs at the same time.
Most small businesses compete with large and well-established businesses and this is why they always need to be on their toes in order to reduce costs and offer quality products and services to customers. Six Sigma helps because it provides a level playing field to small businesses, allowing them to concentrate on increasing the customer base by offering better quality products and services. For ensuring the success of Six Sigma initiatives, small business owners can hire the services of professional Six Sigma professionals such as Black Belts and Master Black Belts. They also have the option of training their existing employees.
The conclusion is that Six Sigma concepts and methodologies can be tailored to suit any business that has a ready customer base. It is also applicable in an online business where it is all the more important to have satisfied customers because news travels faster on the internet, especially when it is something to do with bad quality products or services. By employing Six Sigma, small businesses can ensure the quality of their products or services, which in turn will allow them to garner positive publicity through customer feedbacks and reviews. Such businesses are most likely to witness rapid growth because satisfied customers are the real assets of any business, whether big or small.
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.