What is Six Sigma

Nowadays, six sigma technology is growing tremendously due to its profitable benefits in organizations. Six Sigma is a type of methodology that helps to improve customer satisfaction in an organization related to their product. It is a management philosophy that improves effectiveness and efficiency. In this six sigma tutorial you will be learning the meaning and how to use the six sigma methodologies in any organization. This tutorial has been specially designed for those who want to understand the basic methodologies and functionality of six sigma. To know what is six sigma, one should have a basic knowledge of quality control, assurance, and related methodologies. Are you excited to learn this six sigma tutorial? Here you go.

Introduction to six sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology that offers an organization to improve its business capabilities. The main purpose of developing the six sigma is to increase the performance, decrease the business process variation, defect reduction, and improve the profit, organization’s employee morale, and quality of the product and services. Another term to express six sigma definitions is to specify the process controls, improve the control chart, and business requirements. Six Sigma methodologies are mainly used by teams to define the well-defined projects that have a direct impact on any organization’s bottom line. This also improves statistical thinking and helps key people with advanced level statistical training and project management. Six sigma can be distinguished on the base of sigma belts and each belt performs different types of work. The DMAIC process in six sigma offers functionalities like define, analyze, measure, improve, and control the business process. The main aim to develop six sigma is to reduce the process variations and enhance process control.

Features of Six sigma

The below are the important key features of six sigma:

1. Six sigma helps to eliminate the waste and inefficiency in an organization, thus it improves customer satisfaction by delivering an effective outcome.

2. Six sigma consists of structured methodology and also defines the specific roles for the participants.

3. Six sigma is developed on the basis of data-driven methodology and helps to collect the accurate data-driven to analyze the process.

4. The main aim of this technology is to provide effective results on financial statements.

The following are the different approach given by sig sigma:

1. Improve the business process

2. Lower the defects

3. Reduce the process variability

4. Reduces the overall cost

5. Improve the customer satisfaction

6. Increase the business profits.

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Key concepts of six sigma

Six Sigma offers major key concepts:

1. Critical to quality: This consists of attributes that are mainly used by the customers.

2. Managing defects: this helps to deliver what the customer wants.

3. Process the capabilities: this specifies what your process can deliver at the end of the project.

4. Variation: this defines what the end customer sees and feels about the end product.

5. Stable operation process: this feature ensures a consistent, predictable process to improve product delivery.

6. Designing the six sigma: This feature design the customer needs and processes the business capabilities.


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Six sigma key elements

There are three key elements of six sigma:

1. Customers:

Here the customer specifies the quality. This may include performance, on-time delivery, performance, competitive prices, correct transaction process, service, clear, and reliability. It is very important that the customers need to improve the customer delight.

2. Processes:

Process in six sigma defines the metrics and measures the central aspects of the customer services. In any business, quality plays a vital role and also defines process improvements.  Herewith the help of this process it’s very easy to understand the transaction life cycle and also able to discover customer seeing and feeling. This helps in any business process to identify the weak areas and also you can improve them.

3. Employees:

Every company should involve all the employees in the six sigma program. Companies should offer opportunities and incentives for their employees on the basis of their talents and also need to satisfy the customers. The important thing is that six sigma enables the team members to have a well-defined role with improved objectives.

Six sigma – organization overview

In the six sigma program, here the members of any organization will be assigned to perform a specific task. The high-level structured format will help us to implement the six sigma throughout your organization. Here you can find the seven specific roles areas or responsibilities in a six sigma.

They are;

1. Leadership area:

A leadership area is nothing but a type of team or council that specifies the goals and objectives of the six sigma program. If you are a corporate leader you need to set a tone or course details to achieve a sigma level object, whereas the six sigma council will set the goals set by the team members. The below are a few lists of leadership council responsibilities:

1. Specifies the purpose of the six sigma council.

2. This will also explain the result which is going to add extra benefit to the customer.

3. Also helps to schedule work and interim deadlines details.

4. Also helps to develop to identify the review and oversight of any issue related to the product.

5. This will also help to support the team members and reduces the established position.

2. Sponsor:

The six sigma sponsors are high-level individuals in a team, who well understands six sigma and helps to succeed in their goals. Here the individual team member in the six sigma sponsor is also known as a problem solver for any related to the sigma project. Six sigma sponsors are handled by a full-time, executive-level vice president, and high-level champion. These high-level members will initiate and coordinate the six sigma improvement activities.

3. Implementation leader area:

The person will be responsible for supervising the six sigma team effort, and they also support the leadership council to ensure the work of the team. All the tasks related to the team will be completed in the desired manner; this is known as the implementation leader. This type of implementation leadership helps in improving the plan and solving the problems which are related to the team and project.

4. Coach area:

Coach area is nothing but a six sigma expert or consultant who defines the result of a project and also mediates conflict. Duties included are work that happens between sponsor and leadership, scheduling the teamwork, identifying and defining the project results of the project, disagreements, and success factors.

5. Team leader area:

This is an individual responsible for overseeing the teamwork and they act between the sponsor and the team members of the project. The major responsibilities included establishing the communication between the sponsor to define the project goals, picking, assisting the team members, and other resources details.

6. Team member area:

Any employee who works on a six sigma project works on specific duties within the project, and also includes the deadlines to meet the specific project goals. Team members in an organization execute the six sigma assignments and also work with other organization members of the team within the given project.

7. Process owner:

Here the individual takes the entire responsibility of any process once the six sigma team has finished the task.

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Architecture overview of six sigma

In this section, we are going to explain the work nature, components, and overview of the six sigma architecture. The below diagram explains the overall architecture of Six sigma in any organization

SIX Sigma Architecture

As I said earlier, six sigma is nothing but a quality methodology that helps to produce the business significance and organization process. This architecture will help to implement six sigma in an organization and also helps in the improvement of the project. The six sigma architecture also focuses on the roles and responsibilities of a six sigma quality program. Six Sigma design process is also known as engineering design process and a business management process method. Nowadays, six sigma processes have been used in many industries such as finance, marketing, process industries, waste management, and electronics. The six sigma process is developed on the basis of algorithms like linear regression, and empirical research algorithms. Here the measurement is an important part of the six sigma or any DFSS tool. DFSS also helps in gaining the data insight into customer needs and also kind of trade-off methods.

Six Sigma methodologies

Six Sigma consists of two very important methodologies:

They are;

1. DMAIC: this refers to a data-driven quality strategy to improve the business process. This type of methodology is also used to improve the overall existing business process.

2. DMADV: this refers to a data-driven quality strategy to design the products and business process. This methodology is also used to generate product design and process designs in such a way that it should be more mature, predictable, and also offers defect-free business performance.

Nowadays, one more methodology has been used in six sigma known as DFSS or Design for six sigma. DFSS is nothing but a data-driven quality strategy to design and redesign the already existing product or service from the legacy six sigma processes. The DMAIC project also turns into a DFSS project due to redesign the complete six sigma process.

Now it’s time to explain the six sigma methodologies in brief:

1. DMAIC methodologies:

This consists of 5 steps they are;






Now let me explain them in brief:

1. Define: this type of term will define the problem or project-related goals that should be addressed while implementing the six sigma.

2. Measure: this term helps to measure the problems and process them when you produce them.

3. Analyze: helps to analyze the data and process them to define the root which causes defects and opportunities.

4. Improve: This term improves the processes which are used to find the solution to fix, prevent, and diminish future problems.

5. Control: here control, implement, and sustain the various solutions which keep the process on the new project course.

DMADV methodology:

This methodology consists of five steps:






1. Define: This defined term will help to specify the problem and project-related goals that need to be addressed while implementing six sigma.

2. Measures: this term will help to measure and determine the specification of the project and customer needs.

3. Analyze: This analyzes the process to meet the customer requirement.

4. Design: this design term used to process the customer needs.

5. Verify: this term verify the designing the performance and ability to meet the customer requirements.

DFSS methodology:

DFSS is a separate method and emerging as a disciplined six sigma quality process. This is also a type of systematic methodology mainly used to utilizing various tools, program course training, and measurements to enable users to design the products and process the customer needs and can be produced by six sigma project quality levels.

This type of methodology consists of the following five steps:

1. Define: This defined term is used to define what the customers need and what they don’t need while implementing projects.

2. Identify: this identity term used to identify the customers and project requirements.

3. Design: this term design a process that meets the customers’ requirements.

4. Optimize: this term determines the process capability and optimizes the project design.

5. Verify: helps to test, verifying, and validate the project design.

Six Sigma – Define phase

There are five phases available to improve the six sigma process. The first step of the phase is known as the Define phase. In the Define phase, you can see four major tasks. They are;

1. Project Team is a formation step of define phase:

Under this task, there are two important activities available;

a. This determines who required being on the project team.

  b. Roles which each person will perform.

Here picking up the right team members can be a very complex task when your project consists of various departments. While working with such projects, it is always good to break down the larger project into smaller pieces and work towards solving the complex problems related to the project.

2. Always good to document the customer core business processes:

Every project has its own set of customers. A customer is a type of recipient of the service or product of the process and mainly targeted for improving the product needs. Each customer in a project has one or multiple requirements. Here the requirements are the characteristics of the customer that define whether the end customers are happy with the end product or service provided.  In this case, a set of business processes will be documented. All these processes will be executed to meet the end customer’s requirements and to resolve the critical issues.

3. Developing a project charter:

This step defines the project name and also summarizes the project by specifying the business case. The lists of project goals and scopes will also be defined. A project charter also consists of the following components:

1. Define the project name

2. Business case overview

3. Project scope

4. Goals of the project

5. Milestones definitions

6. Special requirements used in the project

7. Special assumption while working with complex project

8. Roles and responsibilities of the project team members

4. Develop the SIPOC process map requirements:

A process can also be defined as a series of activities or steps such as inputs, output, and add value.

SIPOC is a type of process map that is used to identify the following elements such as;

1. Suppliers

2. Input data

3. Process type

4. Output data

5. Customers

The SIPOC process map is an essential part to identify the following activities:

1. The way to process the six sigma currently.

2. How these processes will be modified and improved throughout the DMAIC process.

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Six Sigma – Measure phase

In this phase of six sigma, overall performance will be measured and the business process. There are three major activities of the measure phase.

1. Data collection plan and data collection in the phase:

A data collection plan is well prepared to collect the needed data. This type of plan specifies the type of data that needs to be collected and what are the data sources used etc. The reason to collect any type of data in the measure phase is to identify the areas where you need to improve the process.

With the help of three primary sources, you can collect the data such as;

1. The input data source where you need to generate the process.

2. Process data helps to test the efficiency such as the time requirements, defects identification, errors correction, and labor spent.

3. Output helps to measure the efficiency of the business process.

2. Data evaluation:

At this stage of the measure phase, the collected data will be evaluated and also calculates the sigma. It also calculates the number of errors or defects.

  1. A six sigma process defect can be defined outside of the customer specifications.

  2. A six sigma opportunity creates the total quantity of the defect chance.

Point to be remembered:

First, you need to calculate the defects per million opportunities or DPMO and also calculate the sigma performance.

The formula used is:

DPMO = number of defects

                 -------------------------------------------------------------------   * 1, 000,000

                Number of units * number of opportunities

3. Failure mode and effects analysis or FMEA:

This is the final segment in the measure phase known as Failure mode and effect analysis. This refers to preventing the defects that occurred in the process. The FMEA process usually consists of possible defects ratings or any failure with the help of three possible ways:

1. The likelihood that may go wrong sometime.

2. The ability required to detect the defects.

3. The levels of severity to detect the errors.

Six sigma – Analyze phase

The main purpose of using six sigma is to identify the defects, measure the defects, and analyze them so that you can increase the performance of the process. Here you should consider five types of analyses that help to improve the goals and promote the services.

1. Source analysis:

This type of analysis is also known as root cause analysis. It also helps to find the defects that specify the source of information and work generation. Once you are able to find the root cause problem so that we can eliminate the complex defects from the product and services.

Three steps involved to perform root cause analysis:

1. The one step: During this step, the project team needs to provide all the possible explanations for the current performance of the six sigma process.

2. The narrow step: During this type of analysis, the project team narrows the possible explanations of current sigma performance.

3. The close step: During this step of the analysis, the project team validates the narrow list of explanations that includes the sigma performance.

2. Process analysis:

This analyzes the numbers to find out the poor conditions of the business process and try to correct them. The process analysis consists of creating the process map, and analysis of detailed maps. The source analysis is more difficult to distinguish the process analysis. The process refers to the materials movement, information of the resources, and requests them one place to another.

3. Data Analysis:

In the Six sigma program, use of measures and all kinds of data mainly used to describe the design patterns, tendencies, and other major factors which define the problems. As we already know that data itself is a defect. In many cases, when the end products or services do not contain the needed information.

4. Resource analysis:

In any organization, you should ensure that all the employees are trained properly in all the respected departments. If they won’t get training, you can expect a lot of defects related to products or services. Resources can also be of type raw materials which are needed to manufacture, deliver, or process the goods or services.

5. Communication analysis:

Communication is considered to be one of the important analyses. In this analysis type, users discuss problem occurs with internal customers and also find out the solutions related to problems. This is also a kind of exercise to looking at the issues, which arise from the vendor side.

Six sigma – improve phase

The main objective of the improving phase is to find out the improvement breakthroughs, high gain alternative problems, future state, the preferred approach, new sigma level, benefits analysis, design dashboard or scorecards, and generate the implementation plan.

The following are the important activities:

1. Helps to identify the improvement breakthrough.

2. Helps to find out the high gain alternatives.

3. Developing criteria to improve the candidate solutions.

4. with the help of the improving phase, helps you to think systematically and holistically related to problems.

5. Offers solution alternatives and experiments with solution alternatives.

Six Sigma – Control phase

This is the last phase of DMAIC methodologies, in this phase, you should ensure that the process is working properly, produces the desired results, and helps to maintain the quality levels.

1.First, discuss quality control:

This is an ultimate purpose that gives an overall assurance while implementing the process. Customers’ expectation depends on this phase, so the control is associated with the quality. Quality is known as the heart of six sigma methodology. Quality control also helps to reduce defects or errors and produce effective output.

2. Standardization:

Standardization means to ensure the process goes smoothly. In a manufacturing process, the entire value of the standardization will be proven over and over. Here you need to control the features which are related to the process and manage the work related to implementation.

3. Controlling methods and alternatives:

This is the new development process of an already existing process required to develop the procedures and control the workflow.

4. Response to the defects occurs:

This is the final step of the control process; with the help of this step, you can discover the defects. Here the weak link in the procedure and should be able to mention all the bugs or errors.

Six sigma – technical tools

The below are the very important technical tools used in six sigma, which are very easy to learn and apply during the time of the business process. They are covered mainly during the time of DMAIC methodologies.

Tool-1: Critical to quality tree

This critical to the quality tree is mainly used at the time of the DMAIC design phase. The main purpose is to use this tool to process brainstorms and help to validate the customer requirements.

Tool-2: The process Map:

This is applied at the time of the define phase, several process maps will be created by the project team. A process map is a picture of the current steps targeted for improvement. The process map consists of 5 major categories, they are inputs given to the supplier side, the name of the given process, the output of the given process, and the customer process.

Tool -3: Histogram tool:

This tool is used at the time of the analysis phase of DMAIC. Here the project team reviews the data collection at the measuring stage. It is available in the form of graphs and charts. There are two types of data used in histograms: discrete data and continuous data.

Tool -4: Pareto chart:

When the data is discrete, most of the project team creates the Pareto chart. Discrete data is a type of counted data – go or no-go, off or no, yes or no, and defect or no. When the team is dealing with the discrete data, the project team should generate the reason codes.

Tool – 5: process summary worksheet:

The main aim of any six sigma program is to improve the business process and efficiency. Efficiency can be measured in the terms of labor, cost, value, or time.

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Six sigma is a type of methodology which improves the business process. This six sigma also helps users to attempt the various methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an enterprise. In this six sigma tutorial, you will be able to learn the definition, and how to use methodologies in an organization. This tutorial has been designed for beginners to understand the basic concepts of and functionalities of the six sigma program. At the basic level, a six sigma expert earns Rs. 4, 50, 000 and an experienced professional earns more than Rs. 10, 00, 000.

Related Articles: 

1. Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

2. Six Sigma Tools

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Research Analyst
As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.