Six Sigma – Definition and Project Steps

What is Six Sigma project?

Six Sigma Project is a metrics for evaluating the performance of the bottom line and is a standard of excellence, 3.4 defects per million of opportunities. Six Sigma is a disciplined strategy, a statistical and data-driven approach, with a laser focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. Its a management-mandated and directed improvement program to achieve breakthrough profitability and quantum gains in quality and customer satisfaction.


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Six Sigma Project is also Defined as,

  • A business improvement initiative focussed on core business and customer needs. Seeks to find and remove the causes of mistakes in areas of critical importance to customers
  • A systematic method that uses Champion, Black Belts, Green Belts to facilitate change
  • A greek symbol for measuring performance variation

Six Sigma is a project-based statistical approach for improving and enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of a business process. It is a highly disciplined strategy, customer-focused approach, data-driven initiative for improving the performance of processes, products, or services. Nowadays, the term Six Sigma can be used to refer to a philosophy, a performance metric, or a methodology.

  • As a philosophy, Six Sigma strives for perfection in achieving effectiveness and efficiency in delivering customer and business requirements.
  • Six Sigma is proactive and prevention-based instead of reactive and detection-based.
  • As a performance metric, Six Sigma refers to a level of quality that is near perfection. It strives for a defect level that is no more than 3.4 parts per million.
  • As a methodology, Six Sigma refers to DMAIC, or DMAIC, a methodology for improvement named after its five phases of define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.


Six Sigma Certification:

A person with Six Sigma certification has problem-solving abilities. Someone may gain Green Belt, Black Belt or Master Black Belt certification. The higher certification one attains, the more is the ability to solve complex organizational problems. Six Sigma certification is a process of individual’s knowledge validation using a classification system, generally referred to as “Belts” ( Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt ) This verification test individual commands over six sigma methodology and tools. The belt classification shows the position these certified individuals would occupy in an organizational structure and job roles.

six sigma certification levels

Six Sigma Green Belt:

Six Sigma Green Belt is a second level certification course of six sigma family. Green Belt is generally a title assigned to someone who clears six sigma green belt certification examination. Green Belts are people working as a part of the quality initiative program, playing a key role in six sigma projects. Six Sigma Green Belt is controlled and managed by Six Sigma Black Belt Professionals.



Steps in a Six Sigma Project:

(0) Voice of customer – This is the trigger that makes us undertake a six sigma project. Basically, somebody has observed that there is a problem with a process (ie the outcome is deviating from the expected outcome) and that it needs improvement.

(1) Define – Clearly spell out what is the problem statement that will be addressed using this project. What is the key metric that we need to improve? Identification of a metric is critical as this will be the single most important parameter that will decide if a project has achieved its stated objective or not. Eg: Reduce the defect rate of the process by 50%.

(2) Measure – Objective here is to establish the current state of the process and map it out for further analysis. At the end of this stage, we would have identified all key interrelated components, stakeholders, current measurements of key metrics, typical process flows and exceptions

(3) Analyze – At this stage, the problem-solving team, along with an expanded team of experts from the entity will sit together and analyze the data captured using the “Measure” stage. The objective of this step is to pinpoint the root cause(s) of the problem being solved. At the end of this step, the team will clearly know what needs to be corrected to achieve the objective of the six sigma project.

(4) Improve – The actual act of improvement happens in this stage. It starts with a pilot implementation in a limited scope to verify if the changes we are making will give us the desired results. Once the pilot is verified conclusively, implementation is expanded to the entire scope of the problem resulting in large-scale changes in the operating environment.

(5) Control – Once the changes have been made, we have to make sure that the changes remain and the system should not revert to the earlier state of affairs. For this, there is a need for considerable education to the stakeholders and implementation of various organization control systems. The objective of this stage is to achieve sustenance of a positive change that has been implemented during “Improve” stage of the project.


six sigma project level and process
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