Six Sigma

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is several things.

It is basically a Philosophy, an outlook or a way that we perceive and work with in the business world around us.
Essentially, the philosophy is of working smarter, not harder. It is also Statistical Measurement. It tells us how good our
• Products
• Services
• Processes

It translates to making fewer and fewer mistakes in everything we do.

Six Sigma has
• Well-defined project charter that outlines the scope of a project
• Financial targets
• Anticipated benefits
• Milestones, etc
It is based on hard financial data and savings.

Historical Overview:

Six Sigma was originally developed as a set of practices designed to improve manufacturing processes and eliminate defects, but its application was subsequently extended to other types of business processes as well.
In Six Sigma, a defect is defined as anything that could lead to customer dissatisfaction.
The particulars of the methodology were first formulated by Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986.

Six Sigma’s Specialties:

The Six Sigma method allows us to draw comparisons to other similar or dissimilar products. In this manner we can see how far ahead or behind we are. Most importantly, we see where we need to go and what we must do to get there.

How dose Six Sigma affects?

Six sigma as a business strategy can greatly help us to gain competitive edge. As we improve the sigma rating of a process, the product quality/ service quality improves and costs go down and customer becomes more satisfied.

Effectiveness of Six Sigma:

Six Sigma provides a structured data-driven methodology with tools and techniques that companies can use to measure their performance both before and after Six Sigma projects.

What Management can do using Six Sigma?

Using Six Sigma, Management can
• Measure the baseline performance of their processes
• Determine the root causes of variations so, they can improve their processes to meet and exceed the desired performance levels

What Managers can do using Six Sigma?

Six Sigma allows Managers to take their projects to
• New levels of discipline
• Comprehensive commitment

For standard project management ideas, you can approach them ad-hoc and implement them as you learn them.

Six Sigma’s Key Methods:

Six Sigma has two key methods:
1. DMAIC (Design-Measure-Analysis-Improve-Control)
2. DMADV (Define-Measure-Analyze-Design-Verify)
Sigma levels:

Short term sigma levels correspond to the following long-term DPMO (Defective Parts Per Million Opportunities) values.

• One Sigma = 690,000 DPMO = 31% efficiency
• Two Sigma = 308,000 DPMO = 69.2% efficiency
• Three Sigma = 66,800 DPMO = 93.32%efficiency
• Four Sigma = 6,210 DPMO = 99.379% efficiency
• Five Sigma = 230 DPMO = 99.977% efficiency
• Six Sigma = 3.4 DPMO = 99.9997% efficiency

Why DMAIC and DMADV are used?

• DMAIC is used to improve an existing business process.
• DMADV is used to create new product or process designs


The basic method consists of the following five steps:
1. Define process improvement goals that are consistent with customer demands and the enterprise strategy.
2. Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data.
3. Analyze the data to verify cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what the relationships are, and attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered.
4. Improve or optimize the process based upon data analysis using techniques like Design of experiments.
5. Control to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects.


The basic method consists of the following five steps:
1. Define design goals that are consistent with customer demands and the enterprise strategy.
2. Measure and identify CTQs (characteristics that are Critical To Quality), product capabilities, production process capability, and risks.
3. Analyze to develop and design alternatives, create a high-level design and evaluate design capability to select the best design.
4. Design details, optimize the design, and plan for design verification. This phase may require simulations.
5. Verify the design, set up pilot runs, implement the production process and hand it over to the process owners.

DMADV is also known as DFSS, an abbreviation of "Design For Six Sigma".

Success Granted by Six Sigma:

This success is accomplished by means of
• understanding what the methodology is?
• how it is applied?
• and how it used?

There are many challenges facing by Project Managers:

• Data gathering and Analysis
• Problem solving
• Understanding and Evaluating existing processes
• Developing and tracking measurements in a standardized manner
• Making quantitative evaluations.

Six Sigma methodology provides tools and techniques to help a manager be successful in all of these challenges.