Six sigma comes with two powerful methods – for the design of new processes or products the DMADV process can be used – for improving existing processes six sigma provides DMAIC a structured system suitable for analysing, improving and controlling business processes.

General Process Improvement

Typical business improvement projects which don’t follow a particular methodology can run into a number of problems. Without a proven system to follow, once a business problem has been identified – a common route is to try and solve the problem immediately – executives may have a “gut feel” for what the cause is and without detailed research embark on a fix program that might cause more problems than were prevalent at the start! Other common methods include a “scatter gun” effect where numerous improvement initiatives are started hoping that one will hit home and solve the problem. This scatter gun approach can also lead to scope creep (especially without a defined scope or detailed success factors) this can suck vital resources (cost!) from the within the company without just cause or benefit.

The Six Sigma Process Improvement system

Six Sigma provides DMAIC a formal improvement methodology that offers a step by step approach to improving problem processes. What makes DMAIC successful is that before launching into an improvement activity, business issues are carefully scoped before being thoroughly assessed and analyzed only then are improvement activities attempted. This method ensures that root causes have been thoroughly assessed and that when future state processes are devised with all the facts known. This provides the business with a very strong opportunity to implement positive change. DMAIC also includes a “control” element that looks to sustain the improved process once implemented – this is another common “miss” by general improvement activities – failing to do this can see the process revert to the previous broken one or for variation to creep in which can impact on benefits.

By following a suitable methodology – businesses protect their resource investment and have a greater chance of success through using a framework with a proven track -record.

Tackling a business improvement project without a standard methodology may yield results but these may be delivered with higher costs and longer implementation time which can result in a higher risk to the business with the process issue becoming more critical and resulting in increasing damage in the intervening time.

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