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Implementing Six Sigma: Featured Article


Welcome to the wonderful world of Six Sigma implementation!It is hard for those who know anything about Lean Manufacturing to be able to think of lean methodologies without thinking of Six Sigma.The Six Sigma method is both complex in construction and simple in concept.Many books have been written and seminars taught on only small aspects of the Six Sigma process.So, implementing a project of any kind may sound simple enough, however, depending on the complexity of the lean issues you are trying to resolve, your implementation of Six Sigma could be quite the challenge.If at any time during the implementation process you realize that the task you have undertaken is too daunting, remember that there are many dozens of highly experienced consulting companies who offer their services on whatever aspect of the implementation that you have become caught up on.Additionally, there are a variety of different pieces of software that can be used to assist in the mathematical and sequential steps of the Six Sigma methodologies.

Steps for implementing Six Sigma

There are several basic steps used for the implementation of Six Sigma in an organization. These steps include beginning with having the company's leadership commit to the implementation process at hand.A strong mentality for change and taking a hard look at how to improve is vital if the company is to progress and ultimately increase profits.The next step in the Six Sigma implementation process is to maintain access to current information on the requirements or demands of your customers.A process management system must then be put into place to measure current performance and identify where you need to make improvements.Establishing these systems of management and measurement take a trained staff if they are to be done properly, that is why many organizations implementing Six Sigma choose to employ individuals who have specific training in the different roles of implementation.Black Belts and Green Belts, as these trained Six Sigma implementers are called, have the responsibility to design and improve processes and to assist process owners.Management must be involved in all these steps of implementation in order to reinforce the need that the implementation team has for process management and improvement design.The last step that an organization seeks to attain is to implement successful Six Sigma methods throughout the organization effectively and clearly, making communication another characteristic that must be fine tuned.

Implementation roles

One of the key characteristics of what makes Six Sigma so successful is that it aims to "professionalize" quality management functions.In companies that have not adopted the Six Sigma strategy and have taken a more traditional approach to how their build their leadership structure, quality management in practice is dedicated largely to the supervisors that are working on the production floor and to statisticians who spend their days crunching numbers and evaluating mathematical equations for efficiency in completely separate quality departments.However, when implementing Six Sigma, martial arts terms are used to describe and rank a different kind of operational hierarchy of managers.In this hierarchy, however, there is a straight line from all these implementation roles straight to those who have assumes executive responsibilities.This translates into a strategy where executives and trained implementers are in direct communication throughout the entire process.Here are the key roles that must be assumed for successful Six Sigma implementation:

Helpful Resources:
1. Wikipedia
When implementing Six Sigma the roles of implementation are often referred to by names that could easily remind one of martial arts.Read bout the colors and belts of implementing Six Sigma through this link.

2. Commercial Services Available
Follow this link to learn more about exactly what Six Sigma is all about.Also learn why the implementation process is so important and what commercial services are available to aid you as you implement this strategy.

3. Six Sigma
Implementing Six Sigma is not the same for every company that tries it.This example is for Six Sigma implementation in a small IT firm, there will be differences if implementing this strategy for a large manufacturing organization.

4. Worthwhile of Implementing Six Sigma
Implementing Six Sigma will be time consuming and it will cost money, even if those monetary costs are only in hours of labor, so implementation may not be right for you.Read more about whether or not implementation is worthwhile in this article.

5. Versatility of Six Sigma
For many companies the Six Sigma process is vital to the efficiency of everyday working life.Follow this link to find articles by a variety of companies on a variety of different topics that illustrate how versatile Six Sigma can be.

6. Implementing Six Sigma Book
If you are looking for a more detailed set of instructions for implementing Six Sigma, this book is available for purchase.In it you will be able to read about statistical methods that can be used for a more effective Six Sigma implementation.

7. Six Sigma Solutions
The company, Six Sigma Solutions, offers their services in the form of seminars and tutorials that are held by experts in the field.You can visit this site to learn more about their services and to register.

8. Six Sigma Blog
If you really have an interest in Six Sigma and have something that you want to say about it, try posting your thoughts and reading the postings of other Six Sigma enthusiasts on this Six Sigma Blog.

9. Implementing Six Sigma Internationally
Implementation, in addition to its differences depending on organizational structure, will also differ depending on the type of culture that the Six Sigma process is being implemented in.Read more about implementing Six Sigma internationally, here.

10. GE's Experiences
Follow this link to read of a real life example of the company GE's experiences in implementing the Six Sigma process into their operations.Learn more about the roles that they used, the training they had and much more.

There are several key implementation roles in Six Sigma that should be considered.The Executive leadership includes the CEO of the company and other people that make up the top management.They are the group responsible for having the vision and setting up the Six Sigma implementation process.They ensure that the other roles are fulfilled as well.Next are the Champions.They are the group responsible for the implementation across the entire organization and making it possible to integrate the ideas into the company.Executive management takes their future members from the Champions and another very important role they play is as mentors to the Black Belts.Master Black Belts are named by Champions and are basically the coaches of Six Sigma.100% of their time is devoted to implementing the ideas of Six Sigma and it is very important to them.They help Champions fulfill their roles and also assist the Black Belts and Green Belts.Most of their time is spent on statistical tasks and ensuring consistent application of Six Sigma through various departments.Black Belts are more concerned with specific projects and methods.Their focus is on project execution and ensuring that everything is done properly.This differs from the roles of Master Black Belts and Champions because they are more involved with the projects and functions of Six Sigma.Green Belts are the employees of the company who take up the implementation of Six Sigma and its methodology to specific projects that are being worked on in the company.They are guided by the Black Belts who help them to identify and focus on the areas they need help in.They are also supported by the Black Belts in achieving overall objectives so that the implementation of Six Sigma is uniform and consistent.Yellow Belts are the lowest position in Six Sigma but are still very important.They were hired as employees and trained specifically in the Six Sigma techniques as part of a team in the company to promote Six Sigma.They may have never completed a Six Sigma implementation before and are not expected to be constantly engaging in quality improvement procedures and activities.All the roles in Six Sigma are very important to the proper implementation of the system and to its success.

Getting started with Six Sigma

Just as you would make sure that you have all of the needed ingredients to make a cake before you started cooking, you should get started with your Six Sigma implementation process by first determining how control of the Six Sigma program will be handled and if there is a need for a separate leadership body that will be able to be responsible for the strategic, tactical and management decisions required for the Six Sigma improvement program.You need this leading body to be committed to the ideals of a Six Sigma operation and have a working knowledge of how the Six Sigma plan will operate.

As you get stated with the Six Sigma implementation process you want to ensure that communication is in place.Specifically this includes that employees at every level of the implementation plan should not only remain informed, but trained in the jobs that they will be responsible for carrying out.As very few organizations have employees who are well trained in the Six Sigma implementation process when they have never before implemented Six Sigma, it is typical for the business to outsource the initial Six Sigma training.This outsourcing to Six Sigma professional instructors typically includes the services of providing classes, schedules, participants, costs, and the tools to be taught.Individuals should be chosen to receive training in each of the implementation roles.The IT leader and other managers should be a part of the Champion training that takes place.Training the IT leader or leaders this way ensures that they are on the same page as the rest of the team when it comes time to create programs that will be beneficial to the data collection, measurement and interpretation process.Those who are chosen for Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt training must be certified as part of their training so make sure that the organization that you have hired is able to also provide certification.Although the time that it takes to certify these individuals will vary depending on how much time is allowed to be devoted to their training, individuals can typically receive certification in their respective roles in a matter of weeks or months.

Most Six Sigma implementation programs that you come across will cover each of the DMAIC phases (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control).However, if you are looking for an implementation option that deviates from this traditional DMAIC methodology, some more progressive training and consulting agencies will also choose to cover the IDOV phases (Identify, Design, Optimize and Validate) and more heavily focus on the use of software implementations.

The next steps in Six Sigma implementation

Once you have trained or hired the individuals who will make up your Six Sigma implementation infrastructure, you must then identify which projects you would like to take on first.Naturally, areas that are underperforming are usually areas that are taken on first.Remember that the goal of Six Sigma is to minimize non-value-added steps in any and all processes.In order to do this, performance data must be available, collected, and interpreted (all processes are additional steps in the implementation).A great deal of work will go into the improvement of areas that affect cost, quality, delivery or customer satisfaction.But ultimately, once a program is refined an organization will then have the ability to increase the value of its products and applications.

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