Six Sigma is an amazing technique to improve the quality of your products, to avoid having defective products when making them and, as result, increasing substantially the profit, as less raw materials are wasted. Six Sigma is not something that happens overnight and requires careful planification and an extensive analysis of the problems and difficulties that may be causing defective products. Here we will explain how to implement the Six Sigma method to be able to see results as fast as possible. Six Sigma was developed in 1986 by Bill Smith while working in Motorola and the company got excellent results from this, later the Six Sigma method was adopted by Jack Welch in General Electrics and they got excellent results too; so it has been proven that the Six Sigma method is really worth a try and it may bring a substantial improvement to the quality of your products and the profit of your company.
Six Sigma has two different methods of application, but today we will focus on just one of them, the DMAIC method. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, and these are precisely the steps we are going to follow to implement Six Sigma in our companies. So now let’s get to the part we were waiting for:
- Define: During this step you will have to what the client needs and analyze the information to determine what part of the production process is involved in those needs. This client needs are called CTQs that stands for Critical to Quality, these CTQs are those things that directly affect the perceived quality of the product and are our priority. During this step we have to carefully plan the process and determine the beginning and end of it, we have to define a plan of action and develop a flowchart to help organize de process.
- Measure: This step focuses in finding the root of the problem, we have to measure the different processes involved in production and, based in our CTQs, determine what processes are directly involved in the perceived quality of the product. During this step the performance of the company will be evaluated to find weak spots and the gap between the desired performance and the actual performance. After this step you will be able to know what parts of the process need improvement and will help you refine the planned process to get better results.
- Analyze: After checking what may be the cause of the problem, we will proceed to analyze in detail the recollected material and we will be able to compare and determine the measurements we got from last step. We need to find which processes are more critical to the perceived quality and pinpoint deficiencies that will be the main focus during the Six Sigma process. This step will help you find the problems during production and find what is causing this problems. This way it will be easier for the company to fix the flaws in the process. After this you will have found and validated what you need to improve in order to achieve Six Sigma quality of production.
- Improve: Once you have planned everything, it is time to find a solution and implement it in the process. After all the analyzing you should have all you need to paint a clearer picture of what doesn’t fit in the process. You should now focus in developing strategies to fix the identified process, try brainstorming with coworkers to find successful and effective ways of fixing those problems and when you have a plan, put it in action. Find those solutions that are simpler and will allow you to fix the problems more effectively, try to avoid over complicated ideas as they tend to be harder to implement and will slow down the improvement process. This way your products will reach the client needs you analyzed in the first step faster.
- Control: Obviously, you don’t want this results to be temporal, you want the profit to be as high as possible and that’s what we should have reached after following the first steps of Six Sigma. The last step is to keep careful control of the solutions implemented so the solutions are permanent and not just temporal fixes. Develop a control plan that will allow you to maintain the quality of the product by continuously analyzing the process and determining flaws and problems as fast as possible, this way the profit will keep high and you will be able to keep the Six Sigma level. Remember to maintain all the materials and machinery in pristine condition, this way it will be easier to identify a future problem.
After implementing Six Sigma, remember to be supportive of your working colleagues and subordinates and try replicating the methods in different production processes that may benefit from it.