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How to evaluate your Six Sigma options

Six Sigma is used to reduce the amount of waste in the production process. It is the process of evaluating and changing business practices and processes to make them more efficient. There are two main ways it can be approached in order to improve business flow and productivity. These methods are known as:DMAIC and DMADV.The main difference between the two methods is that DMAIC is used mainly for improving the operations and productivity of an existing business and DMADV is used to make new products or new designs. Both of these are acronyms and each letter represents an aspect of the implementation that helps improve the flow and quality of business. However, it is important to realize that choosing the right Six Sigma methodology is not always a simple choice. In order to evaluate your Six Sigma options, the first step is to understand them.

DMAIC consists of five basic steps. These steps are:

  1. Defining the goals for improving the process.

  2. Measuring the important parts of the current system and gather data regarding their effectiveness.

  3. Analyze the data and determine where improvements can be made.

  4. Improve the process.

  5. Control the implementation to keep uniformity in the system and so that problems can be solved before they cause major problems.

DMADV includes the steps of:
  1. Defining goals

  2. Measuring and finding CTQ's (things that are Critical to Quality).

  3. Analyze and find design alternatives and find the best design.

  4. Design the details and optimize the design.

  5. Verify the design and implement the process of manufacturing.

It is crucial to understand that different methods will work for each business, and sometimes divisions of the same company, will have to take different approaches to Six Sigma to make the most of it, and to ensure that their part of the business is the most efficient possible. You should keep in mind that the objectives of both of these methodologies is to reduce the amount of guesswork, that goes into producing a product, and ensuring that the process is uniform and consistent, so that the result or product, will also be consistent, and of a better quality. The bottom line is that better quality and consistency, will eventually lead to greater profits, and a benefit, for the business and its shareholders.

When evaluating Six Sigma options, some people believe that DMADV is used only for developing new products and services, and that DMAIC should be used only for existing processes. Keep in mind that while this argument is valid in most circumstances, there are also some situations in which this may not necessarily be the case. Others argue that there is not much difference between the two versions anyway. However the main difference between the two methods is the way that the last two steps are implemented. It should be clearly understood that DMAIC is more concerned with improving and controlling, the process rather than developing a new process. Those who choose to use DMADV will need to be more concerned with coming up with a completely new way to produce something, rather than just evolving a system already in place. A common question that is asked is: if you can use one in place of the other. There is really no one answer, to that question. Those wondering which option to use should understand that it is possible to implement DMADV, in the place of DMAIC, when the process hasn't yielded the results that you wanted in the first place. Experts do agree that you should use DMADV when you are trying to improve the process, and it hasn't worked or delivered to your expectations, or when you want to develop something entirely new.

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