Six Sigma and Its Importance

Last week we reviewed bottlenecks in the workplace and how to reduce them. Like bottlenecks, this week’s topic six sigma also does a root cause analysis about how businesses can review their system to identify where problems areas are so they can eliminate process variation or how the company gets things done.

In order for a business to be six sigma quality, or well controlled they may use data driven information like graphs, reports and statistics to recognize problems and assess processes to suggest fixes. The overall goal is to get defects and deviations to the process to a minimum so that the business may perform on the target line which will in turn allow the company work at target value.

This isn’t a by all fix though, with any fix there must be monitoring and upkeep. When you eliminate variation the business can become more productive, efficient and in control.

Like bottlenecks, there will always defects and deviations present no matter how much the business is tracking productivity and working target value. The key is to sustain improvement and grow with new methods and progressive processes.

It could be that a machine is not properly aligned or a computer program the company operates on is down for a few hours for repair – there will be some things that happen out of human control.

ASQ uses the level of six sigma and the professionals that are playing a role in changes and compares them to black, yellow, green and white belts in karate. In the example, all of the players work together to finish a project and offer solutions to improve the process.

For example, take a company like Walmart that has many goods and products from vendors all over. Say a new movie is bound be sold at all Walmart stores across the country. Some movies have special displays in store.

Unfortunately, these don’t put themselves together. Instead of having Walmart employees work extra hours, after hours and paying overtime they can contract workers from Accion to put together these displays.

Using the Cost Per Unit (CPU) model Walmart can pay for work completed or productivity instead of paying for the time it actually takes so that Walmart employees can focus on their customer service and store operations.

The DMAIC Process is a data- driven strategy to help business put out quality work. The model uses the following characteristics to help businesses their problem area and offer a solution to ensure a stable process:

Define or identify the problem and improvement needed to meet standards

                  Too many employees are working overtime for various reasons and they’re not finishing projects that have deadlines– displays for new movie set to be sold in stores

Measure the process and determine where the target line is supposed to be

                  Pull data and assess the rate at which Walmart employees are building displays versus how long it is taking them

Analyze the process to identify the origin of variation and defects

                  You find that employees do not like working after hours and are not being time efficient.  Overtime pay is not enough incentive for them

Improve the process or performance by minimizing poor performance

                  Another team (third party) that is skilled and committed to completing projects is needed so that Walmart employees can focus on normal day-to-day operations. To pay them for work completed instead of the time it took would save Walmart money

Control or improve and maintain the process to assure future success

                  Contracting work from third party team to work on future projects to eliminate over using Walmart employees

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