For a good Six Sigma project three Critical factors apply:
- Directly Aligned with the Enterprise' strategy
- Clear 'Line of sight' to customer and stakeholder perceived value
- Significant contribution to the bottom line
It is not possible to address just one factor:
- you cannot improve the customer satisfaction, but not make a profit
- you cannot improve the bottom line, but kill any future business
Six Sigma projects are not stand alone projects. The approach nust be embedded in a company culture.
A Six Sigma project
- MUST have a defined, quantified objective that is to be achieved
- MUST have a sponsor
- MUST be assigned to a project owner (Black Belt)
- MUST be bounded, it has a limited amount of time to get a solution
- MUST have measures or metrics
Details of a project are defined in a Project Charter.
- Start with one project in the first wave
- The number of projects selected equals the number of Black Belts in wave 1
- Can increase to 3 to 5 projects per experienced Black Belt
- Normally 1 or 2 projects at a time
The diagram below gives an indication when to use a Six Sigma approach and when to use a Lean Manufaturing approach
The Six Sigma is preferred when the problem to improve the process is complex and the outcome of the improvement is uncertain. A Six Sigma project will result in bigger improvements and will point you fast into to major improvement directions, based on statistics that point out relations between cause and effect. Data about the process is required to use statistics.
Lean Manufacturing is based more on structured thinking and experience. The method is preferred of relatively simple process improvements and will take place step by step.
In many projects Lean Manufacturing tools and the Sis Sigma method are used together to get the best result, especially where the project has mid size complexity and uncertainty.