Showing posts from March, 2010

Six Sigma Phases "Improvement Phase"

Improvement Phase

In this phase the improvement project teams are composed to provide Six Sigma project-related training to the team members. As the progression of the projects take place, it is important to constantly monitor the status of each project.

Form the Six Sigma Project Teams

The Six Sigma project teams are composed by the Core Team.
The Six Sigma project teams are responsible for the delivering of the project goals assigned to each project.

Plan and Provide Six Sigma Training to Members of Project Teams

It is very important to develop a training plan and strategy, and provide further training to all members of Six Sigma project teams.
The training plan should focus on: Six Sigma overview, measure-analyze-improve-control (MAIC) discipline, and utilization of quality tools.

Implement the Six Sigma Projects

Project teams should evaluate the existing processes and proceed with the MAIC discipline.

Six Sigma Phases "Analyze" Phase

Analyze Phase

In this phase, the gaps are identified between current process performance and the business goals. The gaps are further transformed into improvement projects, and an integrated system is established to support the implementation.

Define Business Goals based on Organization’s Strategic Plan

The organization's purpose, structure, and flow, including interfaces with other organizations and primary customers must be fully known by the Core team.
It is very important to understand the corporate policies and procedures that affect the Six Sigma Quality Management System (QMS).
The short-term and long-term business goals must be defined by the Core team. These goals must be based upon the organization's strategic plan.

Identify the Existing Processes Performance

It is important to identify the overall process of the organization, showing how products or services are created and supplied to the customers.
The Core Team must perform a high-level “gap analysis”.…

Six Sigma Phases "Measure" Phase

Measure Phase

Some more of my ideas when implementing Six Sigma in your organization large or small.

Top management plays a very important role in the entire Six Sigma deployment processes. Therefore it is very important that in the initial phase of implementation of the Six-Sigma program, it should be fully accepted by the employees and they should show full commitment towards the steps of improvement. In the initial phase, development of a thorough infrastructure would help the functioning of the deployment process, and manage the implementation process. This phase should be developed as follows:

Establish Leadership Commitment and Involvement

The Six Sigma implementation processes must involve the top-level management. Total commitment and involvement must be there throughout the implementation process.
Senior management must assign a Management Champion to lead the Six Sigma implementation and make him the authoritative head for the entire Six Sigma project in the organization…

Six Sigma Phases "Define Phase"

Define Phase

The essence of Six Sigma is to solve problems that are impacting business. The process of improvements starts immediately with the "Define" step. When a Six Sigma project in a firm is launched, goals are chalked out to have an idea about the degree of satisfaction among customers. These goals are further broken up into secondary goals such as cycle time reduction, cost reduction, or defect reduction.

The Define Phase comprises of base lining and benchmarking the process that needs improvement. Further goals/sub-goals are specified and the infrastructure to accomplish these goals is established. An assessment of changes in the organization is also taken into consideration.

Six Sigma Deployment Process

From a practical viewpoint, it is very essential to generate a master deployment plan as a road map throughout the Six Sigma implementation cycle. The master plan can be developed and divided into four phases: measure, analyze, improve, and control phases.

The detailed steps for each phase are described as follows:
• Define Phase
• Measure Phase
• Analyze Phase
• Improve Phase
• Control Phase

My next posts will deal with each phase of Six Sigma and the roles that each phase plays in the implementation of this methodology for large or small projects.

The Metrics of Six Sigma

In modern day scenario, it is very important to track down the simple metrics, manipulate and improve numbers. The concept of Six Sigma and other methodologies not only measures site activity but also strive to understand the factors affecting the metrics. Six Sigma is referred as a business-driven, multi-faceted approach, which focuses primarily on process improvement, reduced costs, and increased profits.

Common Six Sigma metrics include defect rate (parts per million or ppm), sigma level, process capability indices, defects per unit, and yield. Many Six Sigma metrics can be mathematically related to the others.

Defect Rate

The complimentary measurement of yields is defects. If the yield is 90 percent, naturally there must be 10 percent defects.

Sigma Level

From a quality perspective, Six Sigma is defined as 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This is called a sigma level of quality.

Process Capability Indices

Another set of measures exist to quantify the capability of a process…

So what is Six Sigma?

I thought I would give you a quick overview of Six Sigmas history and practice.

Six Sigma what does that mean?

Six Sigma is a process based methodology for pursuing continuous improvement. Companies use this methodology to reduce defects in their processes. Companies measure their performance by the sigma level of their business processes. Initially, companies accepted three or four performance levels as the standard. These processes created 6210 to 66,800 defects /per million opportunities. The sigma level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities is a reaction to increasing customer expectation and the fact that business processes and products are becoming increasingly complex and competitive. The primary aim of Six Sigma is to focus on the customer first and then use facts and data based on customer requirements to get better results or improve the process. Thorough understanding of the process and the product drives the business and fulfills customers’ expectations.
Sigma, S, is t…

Idea Collection Tools the Six Sigma Tool Kit Part 4

OK so I think I have pretty much exhausted this subject HORAY! So this will be the last post on Idea collection for Agile and Six Sigma. These are the last of the collection ideas that will be discussed.


SIPOC is an acronym for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer. SIPOC is generally used in the Define phase (Define the problem, the voice of the customer, and the project goals, specifically) of the DMAIC (Six Sigma) methodology. The SIPOC diagrams are made to define the sub-processes in major business processes, and to identify possible measures. The SIPOC software tools, like iGrafx, SigmaFlow, and Process Model helps to organize and display the information. Now some of these ideas can be used in the Agile Methodology, my experience has been that we did not have the resource due to the size of the organization so we had to use open source tools or no tools at all due to budget constraints.

The functioning of SIPOC involves the following SIX steps:
• Categorizing th…

Idea Collection Tools the Six Sigma Tool Kit Part 3

Since I have been traveling down the road of “Idea Collection” I figure that I will continue the posts till I have exhausted this subject, so this is part 3 of the series.


Flowcharts provide a very simple way to present a data. If developed without any errors, they can describe the process with great clarity. Flowcharts are graphical representation or a pictorial representation of the flow of a process. This pictorial view usually depicts the inputs, outputs, and the unit of activity in a process. It analyzes and observes the process from its initiation to its completion. A flowchart is mostly presented in the form of a diagram comprising of boxes, diamonds, and other shapes, and these boxes are connected with arrows. Each box or a shape represents a step in the process and each arrow shows the order of the activities that are performed. Now I have also used this on Agile projects as well as in the Waterfall methodology, but I believe that process flow documentation is NOT…

Idea Collection Tools the Six Sigma Tool Kit Part 2

So here is a continuation of some of the idea tools used during the implementation of Six Sigma, some of these tools can be used for the Agile methodology as well.
Structure Trees
Brainstorming ideas are presented with links in a hierarchical fashion in the structure tree. The structure tree shows how goals and solutions to the problems presented in the brainstormed ideas can be connected using a structure tree. The tree diagrams are very simple and a routine process in the six sigma projects and can be used for Agile as well. I have used these trees during the initial kickoff for an Agile project, I find them very useful and you can build from them Cause and Effect Diagrams and Functional Analysis Diagrams.
The Cause and Effect diagram is used to brainstorm possible causes of a problem or effects. It puts the possible causes into groups, and reviews the causes that lead to other causes. It is further linked, as in a structure tree. The value of a Cause and Effect diagram is to hel…

Idea Collection Tools the Six Sigma Tool Kit

As a continuation of yesterdays post I thought I would expand on the tools used for idea collection. Yesterday I focused on Brainstorming probably my favorite way of idea collection but today I have a few more examples.
Affinity diagrams are another way to show the representation of brainstormed ideas. When ideas presented in the Brainstorming session are grouped into meaningful categories, an Affinity diagram is formed. Here is a link to some examples of the diagrams, we have used these diagrams for the initial phase of Agile“brainstorming and definition”.

Many of the ideas that are presented in the brainstorming session are sometimes too long, complex and raw. The Affinity diagram helps to organize the unorganized data and refine the output of the brainstorming session. These diagrams present interesting tools that are used for organizing, gathering, and correlating the information from the customer. These diagrams usually present relationship between items and groups.
Also while …

Brainstorming Six Sigma and Agile

Brainstorming is a tool that is used for generating new ideas for solving a problem and is a key component of Six Sigma. It is a creative method that helps in solving a problem by listing the number of options that can be applied to solve the problem and then choosing the optimal one. The brainstorming tool is used at all the levels of problem solving. This technique combined with the Agile Methodology is a strong tool to know what enhancements can be done in a given solution or approach.

This tool can be used individually or in a group I have always used it as a group. I sometimes brainstorm alone during walks but always share my ideas with the group/team as a whole. If done individually, then the person himself is responsible for generating new ideas and selecting or rejecting them which is totally Un-Agile in my opinion.

When brainstorming is practiced in a group, all the team members are asked to come up with their thoughts and ideas, and then one by one, each idea is analyzed …

Six Sigma Certification Exam

So I am finishing up my Six Sigma Green Belt and getting ready for the certification test, I am taking the test via Expert Rating online service and it has been a good course. I think that the number one thing that I learned in the course is the primary aim of Six Sigma is to focus on the customer FIRST and then use facts and data based on customer requirements to get better results or improve the process. I have seen this time and time again forgetting that we are in the business of the customer first and understanding of the process and the product drives the business and fulfills customers’ expectations. Six Sigma is all about eliminating the defects, it is important to measure the variations occurring in the processes, which acts as the carriers of defects. I am trying to figure out how this can work inside the development organizations I have worked for and also if it would work. In development organizations we are always limited by time constraints BUT in Quality Assurance