Executive engagement refers to upper management establishing a visible support system and taking an active role in communication and reward.
They need to assure that Six Sigma project is linked and is the part of corporate strategy. Management also needs to prioritize Six Sigma project relative to other initiatives, programs and priorities. Six Sigma requires the use of facts and data in order to support actions at all levels of decision making. Management must also create accountabilities, expectations, roles and responsibilities for the organization in a whole.
Finally it needs to conduct regular reviews to assure and verify progress.Effective communication is very important. A first step is to create and communicate a human resources plan to support Six Sigma roles. There needs to be regular written communications on Six Sigma news and success.
This will motivate the employees and workers and help them understand their role. This will also help management when communicating with employees in company meetings.At last, successful project management depends on a strong link between Six Sigma project to critical business and customer needs. Established projects need to be of appropriate size and scope. Otherwise they would not be effective. The assignment of the appropriate champion and black belt is also very critical since someone needs to be held accountable for the project. Finally there needs to be a project tracking system to facilitate replication and to measure results.
ImportanceSix Sigma is not just another management catch phrase. Rather, it is a highly disciplined process that helps a business develop and deliver near perfect products and services. By accurately measuring the number of defects in a process, you can systematically eliminate them.
Achieving Six Sigma indicates you have less than four defects per million transactions. Needless to say how important it is. Just imagine at three sigma you have at least 54,000 defective drug prescriptions a year, more than 40,500 newborn babies accidentally dropped in the hospital each year and unsafe drinking water almost two hours each month. Comparing with above mentioned at Six Sigma quality level we would get only one wrong drug prescription, in 25 years, three newborn babies dropped in 100 years and unsafe drinking water only one second every 16 years1.Six Sigma goes beyond small point improvements in product quality to the very fabric of the organization as a whole. It is a process for both improving performance and ensuring consistency in the delivery of a product or service.
Most importantly, Six Sigma focuses on the customer. It continuously and rigorously measures those elements the customer identifies as “critical-to-quality.” In other words, importance of Six Sigma is in its ability to transform abstract business scenarios into tangible and fact based situations thus minimizing guessing in solving business issues.Here I would like to point out that it is very important for managers to realize that Six Sigma can be implemented together with other quality systems and assurance programs that already established within the organizations. Six Sigma has necessary tools to complement existing programs. For example many service oriented organizations for decades have implemented TQM programs to increase quality, improve customer satisfaction and enhance financial performance.
Although many organizations achieved notable success initially with TQM, today’s TQM programs often compliance driven rather than quality improvement driven.Integrating Six Sigma with existing TQM programs returns the focus to process improvement through root-cause analysis. Attachment of Six Sigma to currently used TQM efforts will cause minimal disruption and cost to the organization. The Six Sigma methodology reduces errors and thereby improves quality through its distinctive metric approach. Its focus on concurrent process analysis requires virtually every component of every service to be reported, measured and recorded on a regular basis. Using detailed data, organizations can better study their processes and implement a drill-down approach to improvement. Without these detailed data required by Six Sigma it is near to impossible to perform root-cause analysis.
Thus Six Sigma’s metric approach refocuses the organization on the original objective – that is process improvement.Integration of Six Sigma with other quality assurance programs also provides a measure of comparability that can be used to facilitate process improvement. Companies can use Six Sigma metric to compare internal projects as well as to develop external benchmarks. Internal project comparisons can be used for recourse allocations by identifying high-need projects while identification of benchmark performers and efficiency of their processes will encourage shared knowledge and ultimately improved processes.Thus Six Sigma is very important it helps identify improvement opportunities, benchmark competitors and objectively monitor and assess performance.
Six Sigma is able to take existent quality systems to the next level, level that focused on process improvement in quality and service. Problem Areas As Six Sigma system is about measuring and controlling number of defective outcomes of the certain process, the first and most difficult task is defining of the process and defects. It is very easy to do in for simple or moderate manufacturing processes. But imagine that we need to apply Six Sigma methodology for example to software development.Although we can measure number of satisfied customers, or users of the software but it will be very difficult to define the process and the properties of the “production” and to measure them. Thus the first problem here is identifying the measurement parameters.
Next is the fact that software defects in not easy to define. If we try to determine the part of software code that is defective we probably will spend more time than we spend on writing of that code. Another problem in Six Sigma application is determining a Root-cause of the defect. If software program is not satisfying our customer, we need to determine what the reason was. Was it an ambiguous customer, an incomplete functional specification or poor programmer? At last, for complete analysis we need a large number of defects to run statistical tests, which is certainly not the case here.
The moral of the story is that Six Sigma can provide as with tools and the framework, but we need carefully consider how and for what processes we can use them, how much it will cost the company and are the benefits greater than costs that involved. If company is using Six Sigma techniques in manufacturing, adapting it to other hard-to-determine processes (such as software example) may be a difficult but a natural progression, as management and employees have familiarity with Six Sigma concepts. But if Six Sigma is something totally new, one will need to consider carefully before implementing Six Sigma.ConclusionSix Sigma has proved to be a successful business strategy to achieve competitive advantage in many world-class companies such as GE, Motorola, ABB, Sony, Honeywell and Texas Instruments for nearly a decade.
Based on the evidence of several new Six Sigma journals, magazines, websites, textbooks, seminars, workshops, conferences and the amount of training going on Six Sigma still appears to be on the way up. I personally feel that Six Sigma will evolve over time like many other initiatives we have witnessed in the past. However the key concepts, the principles of statistical thinking, tools and techniques of Six Sigma, will stay for many years, irrespective of whatever the ‘next big thing’ will be.
I also believe that the Six Sigma toolkit will be enriched by the continuous emergence of new useful tools and techniques, especially in the software, finance and healthcare applications. I also like to raise the point that Six Sigma promotes the concept of statistical thinking for both engineers and business leaders. Statistical thinking – consisting of core principles such as process, variation and data – may be used to create a culture that should be deeply embedded in every employee within any organization embarking on Six Sigma programs.