Six Sigma is an improvement strategy for processes, focused on reducing variability through optimization of each stage, eliminating (product) defects and reducing cycle times with the goals to improve customer satisfaction at reduced cost.
What Is Six Sigma? | History of Six Sigma | What is DMAIC? | Benefits of Six Sigma in Manufacturing | Six Sigma and Accurate Manufacturing Data | Project Management and Six Sigma | How to Integrate Six Sigma and Project Management in Manufacturing
The Greek letter sigma (σ) represents the standard deviation: the average spread of deviation from the average in a data set. Once data points are plotted on a chart as above and demonstrate a spread according to the classical bell curve of “normal distribution” 68.2 % of the data will be found within 1 standard deviation from the average.
3 standard deviations in each direction from the average (which would be the desired outcome) includes 99.7% of the data points.
According to this logic, the desired output of the Six Sigma (3+3 standard deviations = Six Sigma) process is to ensure that 99.7% of the output can be classified as acceptable or zero-defects.
Six Sigma originated in 1986 in the Motorola company, introduced by engineers Mikel Harry and Bill Smith as an in-depth study of process variations with the purpose to improve them, using Shewhart concepts of SPC (Statistical Process Control).
A few years after Motorola reported surprising results (in terms of increased productivity, reduced non-quality costs, growth, savings in manufacturing costs and elimination of defects in its processes), the technique was successfully adopted by other major companies, such as AlliedSignal (today Honeywell) and General Motors.
Since then, hundreds of companies have embraced this improvement strategy, and today it is considered a work philosophy. Although it originated in manufacturing, it is now also successfully applied in the service sector.
Correct implementation of Six Sigma requires compliance with 5 well-defined stages (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) that make up DMAIC: a methodology for solving problems on processes already created.
Tools used in the development of six sigma projects can be divided in 2 categories: tools for quality improvement and tools for statistical data analysis.
The Six Sigma improvement strategy is based on statistics, therefore, a large amount of data on the process must be available to carry it out. DMAIC, the Six Sigma work methodology, considers the collection of information and the veracity of the data as the basis for improvement.
This amount of available data will give you the opportunity to successfully apply the “Six Sigma” improvement strategy in your factory.
Throughout the world manufacturing and service companies strive to reduce costs, reduce cycle times, and achieve greater market share. This requires continuous efforts to maintain a portfolio of improvement projects.
As previously described, the Six Sigma process is characterized by the continuous and strict application of the DMAIC methods, project after project. However, Six Sigma is more focused on the study of the process variation and its improvement rather than on the project management itself.
Still, project management can be viewed as a series of returning processes. Each one of them has a room for improvement. Only when all those processes function optimally, you can achieve optimal customer satisfaction with lowest project turnaround, which means maximum revenues at minimal cost.
These processes together allow you to advance in each of the DMAIC stages, during the implementation of the Six Sigma strategy.
These two approaches, “Six Sigma” and “Project Management”, are complementary. Integrating them is an effective answer to challenges a company usually faces and will result in a portfolio of continuous and successfully executed improvement projects.
By integrating these two approaches, the variability problems of your organization’s processes would be solved, with well-managed projects that would meet the required scope, time, budget, and quality.
In this way, the incremental improvement of processes would be ensured, as well as the competitiveness of your organization.
M-Box has a full project management functionality:
This will serve as a platform to successfully manage your organization’s projects from start to finish.
Imagine the possibility of uniting the M-Box functionality of Production Monitoring along with Project Management, as well as everything that each one represents.
You would be truly integrating the Six Sigma and Project Management approaches, ensuring the incremental improvement of processes as well as the competitiveness and future of your company.