In 1986, Motorola engineer Bill Smith decided that there should be a way to identify and improve work processes as well as minimize defects in business. As a result, he developed Six Sigma—a set of techniques that can achieve just that. It is a philosophy and quality-improvement initiative that companies can implement to improve operations. In fact, through the use of Six Sigma techniques, Motorola claims to have saved several million dollars by reducing defects in its manufacturing processes.
The principles and processes of Six Sigma can be broken down into two major categories: DMAIC and DMADV. Six Sigma DMAIC is a process for defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling any existing processes within a business, which fall below quality specifications. Six Sigma DMADV does the same for a business’ new processes and for products that have yet to meet quality standards.
If you’re planning to pursue a career in project management, you’ll find Six Sigma to be an excellent tool for measuring progress and quality, and seeing a project through to its completion. Read on to learn more.
Graduates of business administration diploma programs are familiar with Six Sigma DMAIC techniques, and how they can apply to companies across a wide range of industries. DMAIC is an acronym which provides professionals with a set of guidelines:
By implementing DMAIC strategies, companies can get in touch with the specific needs of their customers, and learn how effective their current processes are in meeting those needs. These steps can be applied to anything from the manufacturing processes a company uses, right down to its project management, marketing, and customer service.
While DMAIC measures existing processes, DMADV steps can be used to design new processes, ensuring that they meet Six Sigma quality standards. DMADV refers to:
Project management often involves doing away with old ideas and implementing newer, updated ones to reach a set goal. This is one of the main reasons Six Sigma is often included in the curriculum of project management training programs.
At first glance, Six Sigma may seem like a complex system, but it works. In fact, many companies that use these techniques report benefits, including reductions of up to 50 per cent in process costs, reduced waste of materials, increases in cycle-time improvement, a better understanding of customer requirements, and improved customer satisfaction.
Identifying process defects can be time consuming, but it pays off, helping companies offer more reliable products and services. A few recognizable companies that practice Six Sigma include Texas Instruments, General Electric, Sears, Ford Motors, and Amazon.com.
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