Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical-based, data-driven quality control program. It is a methodology for continuous cycle time improvement (the reduction of manufacturing defects to a level of no more than 3.4 per million) by eliminating defects in any product, process, or service. Developed by Motorola in the middle 1980s, Six Sigma is based on quality management fundamentals. Due to its accuracy and merits, the approach became popular at General Electric (GE) in the early 1990s. Today, thousands of organizations across the globe have adopted Six Sigma.
Six Sigma is:
A Business Strategy: Using Six Sigma Methodology, a business can strategize its plan of action and drive revenue increase, cost reduction, and process improvements in all parts of the organization.
A Vision: Six Sigma Methodology helps the Senior Management create a vision to provide a defect-free, positive environment to the organization.
A Benchmark: Six Sigma Methodology helps in improving process metrics. Once the improved process metrics achieve stability; we can use the Six Sigma methodology again to improve the newly stabilized process metrics. For example, The Cycle Time of Pizza Delivery is improved from 60 minutes to 45 minutes in a Pizza Delivery process by using the Six Sigma methodology. Once the Pizza Delivery process stabilizes at 45 minutes, we could carry out another Six Sigma project to improve its cycle time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes. Thus, it is a benchmark.
A Goal: Using Six Sigma methodology, organizations can keep a stringent goal for themselves and work towards achieving them during the course of the year. The right use of the methodology often leads these organizations to achieve these goals.
A Statistical Measure: Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology. Statistical Analysis is used to identify the root-causes of the problem. Additionally, the Six Sigma methodology calculates the process performance using its own unit known as the Sigma unit.
A Robust Methodology: Six Sigma is the only methodology available in the market today which is a documented methodology for problem-solving. If used in the right manner, Six Sigma improvements are bullet-proof and they give high yielding returns.
Six Sigma can also be thought of as a measure of process performance. Once the current performance of the process is measured, the goal is to continually improve the sigma level striving towards 6 sigmas. Even if the improvements do not reach 6 sigmas, the improvements made from one sigma level to another will still diminish costs and augment customer satisfaction