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Frequently Asked Question's

                       (Scroll Down for the answers)

1. Six Sigma and Lean techniques are used a lot by Manufacturing Companies, does it apply to service and other domains

2. What are the key issues and problems of an organization or business unit that Six Sigma can help to improve

3. Do Six Sigma techniques take long time to complete projects and solve the issues 

4. Does Lean Six Sigma always need lot of statistical analysis and complex tools to solve the business problems 

5.We are using some problem solving and root cause analysis tools currently, if we adopt Six Sigma methods, will we need to use all different tools or can we still use our current tools 

6. What are the minimum Six Sigma deployment actions that we need to take in our organization to start off using the Six Sigma techniques and realizing the benefits 

7. Our orgnization does not have a continuous type product/ processes , each product or processes differs based on customer needs , can Six Sigma still help us to analyze and improve our business processes and products 

8. Is Six Sigma basically a quality based improvement initiative like Total Quality Management ( TQM) that will improve our processes

9. Apart from Product and Process improvement what are the other aspects that our organization can use Six Sigma to improve quality and timelines of our promised deliveries 

10. What are the different levels of Six Sigma traininig and deployment that companies adopt for themselves 

Answers for Above FAQ's

1. Six  Sigma and Lean techniques are used a lot by Manufacturing Companies, does it apply to Services and other domains 


Today Lean Six Sigma improvement techniques are succesfully applied in various domains such as Service sectors, Finance & Accounting, Information Technology, Supply Chain, Education and Design & Development domains. Even though Six Sigma and Lean had origins in Manufacturing initially their principles are based on universal management and process principles that they have been succesfully deployed globally in almost all domains with significant benefits to bottom lines and employee morale and productivity

2. What are the key issues and problems of an organization or business unit that Six Sigma can help to improve


Today our businesses regardless of domains suffer from some common dilemas like:
  • Not developing deep understanding of customers needs and priorities, differing needs of various segments of customers 
  • Inability to maintain a standard and consistent process for developing products and services 
  • Struggling to meet quality metrics and customer satisfaction goals , even though deliveries are made on time 
  • Face constant pressure to manage cost targets , running cost , manage flcutuation in demand and suppplies
  • Unrealistic time pressure to deliver new products, projects or process outputs - resulting in quality issues after delivery
Lean Six Sigma is one of the best suited techniques to provide a simple framework to analyze and solve these business issues

 

3. Does Six Sigma take long time to complete projects and solve the issues 


Six Sigma if applied  in the right spirit and followed dilligently provides a timely comprehensive solution to most business issues - especially where priorities are not clear, too many deliverables are expected in an unrealistiaclly short time frame and where the issues have been faced repeatedly without any valid root cause identfied. DMAIC the common and most favorite Six Sigma method  prescribes a methodlogy which can be executed in one day workshops to sometimes one year projects. Generally Six Sigma DMAIC projects can be closed for most projects in 45- 90 days. Design projects which use DFSS and DMADV techniques tend to take longer as they are associated with New Product/ Process initiatives that can take 2-3 years to be completed

4. Does Lean Six Sigma always need lot of statistical analysis and complex tools to solve the business problems 


Six Sigma and Lean techniques prescribe a simple approach of :
  • Understand your current process or sequence of activities
  • Collect some data and facts on how the process or activities are performing
  • Perform Root cause analysis  and brainstorm improvements
  • Implement the improved process
Depending on the business issue or project the kind of data collection needs and analysis can be either simple or more elaborate - there are quite a few Six sigma projects that have been succesfully resolved with minimal or no statistical analysis - purely based on process maps and root cause analysis. Lean techniques in general do not prescribe any complex  statistical analysis and recommends simple ways to identify and eliminate waste and non value added activities. For some problems that do require advanced statistical analysis- Six Sigma provides great set of tools, these are similar to Data Analytics tools currently used widely for business applications

5. We are using some problem solving and root cause analysis tools currently, if we adopt Six Sigma methods , will we need to use all different tools, or can we still use current tools


The principle of Six Sigma and Lean methods provides a robust set of guidelines for understanding the complete problem, analyzing and find improvement solutions - it does not mandate the use of any specific tools for any phase of the project or problem resolution. A set of recommended tools for each stage of problem resolution are described in detail which teams can use for different business situations, in addition if there are other tools that teams are using it will perfectly blend with the steps of the six Sigma and Lean methods to strengthen the quality of solution and get the best of both methods. The approach of Six Sigma is to ask the question - for my current business problem which would be the right set of tools that can help me to analyze and improve - some issues need only a basic root cause analysis or simple charts, whereas some need more detailed tool and analysis

 

6. What are the minimum Six Sigma deployment actions that we need to take in our organization to start offusing the Six Sigma techniques and realizing the benefits 


When orgnanizations decide to deploy Lean Six Sigma for improvement in their organizations - the first receommended step is for the leadership to undergo a Six Sigma awareness session - for any management initiative to penetrate and sustain itself in any business - the leadership has to understand the benefits of the new methods and actively support the deployment. Once Leadership training is complete - the next steps are to train some team members as Green Belts to understand the methods and tools , and provide Yellow Belt basic awareness  training to all extended team members.
In large organizations and where large projects are to be run - Black Belts would need to be trained in more advanced Six Sigma tools to run the projects as Project Managers. There should also be a Senior Managment member identified as the Deployment Champion and Coach for charting and tracking the progress of Six Sigma in the organization- this is critical to ensure that Six Sigma is helping to achieve the Strategy and Goals of the organization- by identifying the right projects, closing gaps and prioritizing activities.
Continuous coaching for the Black Belts, Green Belts and Six Sigma teams are required to provide the guidance on Six Sigma methods and help to achieve timely progress on the projects.

 

7. Our orgnization does not have a continuous type product/ processes , each product or processes differs based on customer needs, can Six Sigma still help us to analyze and improve our business processes and products 


All of our organization's activities regardless of domains and type of operations can be classified and monitored under the three main categories of
  • Cost ( Product/ service cost, input cost, running cost, capital cost,etc)
  • Quality(Defects, bugs,  unmet customer requirements, durability, etc )
  • Velocity ( timely deliveries, project completion, Release, etc)

Six Sigma helps to first understand our current state and see how we are performing in the three areas of Cost , Quality and Velocity -where the orgnization is doign well and where it is struggling to meet targets/ goals. Then using Data and Facts the Six Sigma methods help to narrow down the top 2-3 root causes for the deficiencies and identify improvements to reach the targets. Regardless of domains and type of processes - if orfganizations can take the help of Six Sigma to see where their main  Cost, Quality and Velocity issues are  - then significant benefits can be realized

 

8. Is Six Sigma basically a quality based improvement initiative like Total Quality Management ( TQM) that will improve our processes


Six Sigma methods had its origin in quality improvement techniques - so in the minds of some it still is tagged as a quality tool- As large companies like Motorolla, GE, Caterpillar, Honeywell, 3M,  Wipro have demonstrated - Six Sigma has evolved as the most comprehensive orgnizational improvment methods - covering everything from Marketing, Design, Planning , Manufacturing , Logistics and Product Support processes. Six Sigma blends different disciplines like Process understanding, Metrics monitoring, Project Management, Risk Management, Change Management, Financial Management to provide a comprehensive solutions.
Earlier initiatives like TQM focussed on providing structure to organizational fucntioning and processes, where Six Sigma provides a end to end guideline for identifying business problems, growth projects and company goals and work in a step by step manner to provide a well thought out solution. This ensures a team approach and buy in of all departments and stakeholders and provides a strong framework for young teams in todays organizations - where there are minimal middle managers to hand hold teams to solve technical and business problems and projects.

 

9. Apart from product and process improvement what are the other aspects that our organization can use six sigma to improve quality and timelines of our promised deliveries 


Lean and Six Sigma method of growing the business and solving business issues, in addition to providing project and process improvement solutions , provides intangible  benefits to the orgnizations broadly by:
  • Developing the next generation of leaders through leadership in projects as Black Belts and Green Belts 
  • Developing a team culture of solving problems and builds collaboration and leadership among teams 
  • Providing cross domain exposure to budding leaders and teams on the wider problems and potential of the business
  • Greatly enhancing the confidence of young team members and leaders by providing Data and facts to counter gut feel and lack of deep domain expertise
  • Making leadership accountable to a process driven culture , rather than case by case handling and lat minute fire fighting methods 
  • Forcing all members to ask questions and understand the customer needs and priorities , so that companhy goals are aligned to those
  • Develop an end to end understanding of the value chain within the company as well as with supplier and other channel partners 

10. What are the different levels of Six Sigma traininig and deployment that companies adopt for themselves 


For a Basic Six sigma deployment - a Corporate Six Sigma Deployment Champion (member of Senior Management) shoud be trained to function as the nodal point for Six Sigma in the company, a  few Green Belts should be trained and entrusted with some critical projects or improvment activities and a monthly or periodic review of the progress of the projects should be done and presented to senior management.

To move to the next stage of Six Sigma deployment or for larger teams - In addition to Deployment Champion and GBs, a few Black Belts need to be trained on advanced Six Sigma techniques and tools and a general awareness training of Six Sigma for all team members should be provided. A dedicated Six Sigma Coach to coach all BBs, GBs and other team members is needed for larger groups who have over 10 teams or 15 projects, some may have a Master Black Belt to conduct in house training and coach.

The common Lean and Six Sigma training programs are  :
  • Yellow Belt Training ( Awareness)  ~ 4 hours
  • Green Belt Training 2-3 days
  • Black Belt Training  3-4 weeks 
  • Leadership training for Six Sigma deployment  4-6 hours
  • Design for Six Sigma training 2-5 days
  • Lean Techniques  Workshop 3 days ( for Service and Manufacturing domains)