Author Archives: Six Sigma Expert


It is a Japanese term that suggests continuous improvement where “Kai” means continuous and “Zen” means improvement. Others translation predicts “Kai” means change and “Zen” means for the better.  Basically, it is a Japanese philosophy that aims at continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life.

Kaizen activities lead to continuous improvement across all business functions including manufacturing to management. It eliminates waste by improving standardized activities and processes. As per the modern usage, a “kaizen blitz” or “kaizen event” is a set of activities that is designed to address a particular issue over the course of a week. It is limited in scope.

Kaizen is a process that humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work and focuses on applying the scientific method while performing experiments and aims at identifying and eliminating waste in business processes. The philosophy suggests that daily activities of business procedures should effectively implement kaizen principles.

The cycle of kaizen activity comprises of following activities:

(1)   Standardizing an operation

(2)   Measuring the standardized operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory)

(3)   Gauging measurements against requirements

(4)    Displaying creativity to meet requirements and increase productivity

(5)    Standardizing the new, improved operations

(6)   Continuing the cycle ad infinitum.

Integration of Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen in a business project leads to breakthrough improvement.  Leadership, creativity, and innovation are the chief drivers of growth in any organization.  Every strategic improvement initiative requires the following elements

Leadership, Creativity, and Innovation:  This element drives the cultural change, mentors the organization and leads to the alignment of the strategy and deployment. By integrating the Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen, leadership team can provide clearer focus on improving profitability and competitiveness.

Teaming and Employee Involvement:  This element suggests that people need to be equipped with the right tools and they should be empowered to take responsible actions to drive the growth.

Closed-Loop Performance:  This element includes real time performance measurement that allows the people to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between their actions and the improvement goals.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management is a concept that focuses on continuous improvement of work in all areas by high level strategic planning, decision making and executing the details. It results in improvement in people, processes and technology. It is evolved in the 1950’s and popularized in 1980’s.

TQM work culture demands quality in all aspects of organization and stresses on eradication wastes from the system and correct execution of the processes consistently. It combines the quality and management tools to bring about reduction in losses and increment in business. The culture of TQM emphasizes on involvement of both the management and employees to bring about improvement in production of goods and customer satisfaction.

Some of the companies who have implemented TQM include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company.

TQM stresses on incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers to bring about continuous improvement. “Do the right things, right the first time, every time” is the objective of TQM. It is recognized as a generic management tool that is applicable in service and public sector organizations in addition to manufacturing sector.

TQM involves a wide range of activities like , commitment by senior management and all employees, Meeting customer requirements, Reducing development cycle times, Just In Time/Demand Flow Manufacturing, Reducing product and service costs etc.

TQM needs to be applied in all the activities of the organization including Manufacturing, Marketing, Engineering, R&D, Sales, Purchasing, HR, etc

The key principles of TQM comprises of following

Management Commitment: It includes Plan (drive, direct) , Do (deploy, support, participate) , Check (review) , Act (recognize, communicate, revise)

Employee Empowerment: It includes, Training, Suggestion scheme, Measurement and recognition, Excellence teams

Fact Based Decision Making: It includes SPC (statistical process control) , DOE, FMEA , The 7 statistical tools , TOPS (FORD 8D – Team Oriented Problem Solving)

Continuous Improvement: It includes Systematic measurement and focuses on CONQ, Excellence teams, Cross-functional process management, Attain, maintain, improve standards,

Customer Focus: It includes Supplier partnership, Service relationship with internal customers, Never compromise quality, Customer driven standards

Lean Six Sigma Manufacturing

In order to grow and exceed bottom lines expectations consistently, companies are required to learn the basics of Lean Six Sigma thoroughly. In a global competitive manufacturing environment, companies are spending thousands of dollars in pursuing the Materials Required Planning and Enterprise Resource Planning, however they still face decline in growth and profits.

Companies need to have complete understanding of Six Sigma fundamentals and commitment for consistent execution of Lean principles. This focuses on analyzing and eliminating the root causes of ineffective systems and processes within the manufacturing sector.

Basics of Lean Six Sigma as applicable to the manufacturing sector are as follows :

(1) Information Integrity:  Acceptable systems results are difficult to achieve when there is non compliance of information integrity where in systems are driven by inaccurate data and untimely, uncontrolled documentation.

(2) Performance Management : The system for measuring the performance should be motivational. Individual goal setting provided little contribution to overall company growth and profit. Therefore efficient and balanced system of performance management is the key of business winners.

(3) Sequential production : It assists in achieving the on-time shipments with healthy profit margins. It focuses on continuous production lines that are supported by real-time and visual material supply chains.   

(4)Point-of-Use Logistics: The strategic objective of all manufacturers is the elimination of the stock room. Companies can achieve significant reduction in costs by moving production parts and components from the stockroom to their production point of use.

(5)Cycle Time Management: Focus on the continuous reduction of all cycle times, root cause,  proactive problem solving is required for achieving success.

(6) Production Linearity: The strategies for achieving the speed, quality and costs is to form teams of employees to pursue and achieve linear production. This is required as companies struggle to remain competitive in today’s manufacturing sector.

(7) Resource Planning : The timely right sizing of operations and upsizing the direct labor force in a timely manner demand tough decisions that require accurate, well-timed and reliable resource information.

(8) Customer satisfaction : Proactive projects aiming at achieving the customer satisfaction needs to be planned and implemented.

Six Sigma Metrics

A Six Sigma metric is a standard measure for assessing the project performance in a particular area. Metrics are applied rigorously in any customer-focused process management system and any program targeted at continuous improvement.

In a Six Sigma project. the focus on customers and its performance standards shows up in the form of metrics  that assess project’s ability to meet their  customers’ demands  and business objectives.

Six Sigma Metrics can be categorized as Classical Metrics and Typical Metrics.

Classical Metrics It contains measures of quality involving timeliness, accuracy, ease of doing business and cost. They are important and emphasis is given on them as vital aspects of most companies’ Six Sigma measurement framework.

Typical Metrics It contains various specialized measures like DPMO, DPU, FPY, RTY and Sigma Level. A Sigma Metric offers an effective alternative to traditional process capability and performance measures as used in Statistical Process Control.

DPMO is a Six Sigma Metric which stands for ‘Defects Per Million Opportunities’ .  Six Sigma process improvement projects targets  to achieve 3.4 or fewer Defects Per Million Opportunities.  DPMO is usd to compare the defect rates of simple and complex items and provides a common standard.

DPU is a Six Sigma Metric which stands for ‘Defects Per Unit’.  It refers to the average number of defects per unit based on the processing of a number of units. For example if 100 units are made and five fail, four reworked, and one scrapped then DPU is 0.05.

The First Pass Yield is the proportion of units that, on average, go through a process first time without defects in a Six Sigma project

Rolled Throughput Yield (RTY) is a  probability that a unit can pass through a process without defects ina Six Sigma project.  It is result of the product of the first pass yields at every step:

RTY = y1 x y2 x y3 x ………..yn

where the yi values are the yields at each step before rework

Implementation of Six Sigma Metrices

The implementation of Six Sigma Metrics requires a systematic approach so that effective utilization of metrics in assessing the performance standards is done.

The first step is about measuring the right things which not only includes the financial performance but also other aspects of the business like customers,  performance of internal work process,  suppliers, financial and employee satisfaction as well.

Second step is to create the metrics which are SMART an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely.

Specific means Metrics are specific and directed at a particular area you are measuring.

Measurable means to collect accurate and complete data.

Actionable means that clarity over which direction to take and easy to understand and to take action.

Relevant means measuring only meaningful things, determine effective measures, including both performance and diagnostic metrics.

Timely means  getting the data whenever required.

Metrics should be simple and can be categorized into performance Metrics and diagnostic Metrics.

Performance Metrics means high level measures which are external in nature and are related to the customer requirements, business needs and outputs.

Diagnostic Metrics means measures which are internally focused and related to inputs and internal process steps.

Third Step is following a well proven method for developing metrics. It involves the identification of the customers and outputs of the process, determination of customer’s requirements, ensuring the key goals of the business and aligning the metric for the process with those of high level processes.

After the metrics are determined as what needs to be measured, a check needs to be done to ensure if the metrics are making any sense, how they can be compared with the existing metrics, do they form a complete set  covering the areas like time, quality, cost, and customer satisfaction and whether they display the desired behavior.

Six Sigma Process Maps and Flowcharts mapping is a renowned  technique for the creation of  a common vision and shared language which leads to the improvements in business results.  It is usually the first step in the implementation of Six Sigma project.  Process Maps and Flow Charts displays the activities in a process in a sequential manner.

Process Maps are more detailed than flowcharts and includes a timeline.  Process Map is basically a  graphical representation of a procedure that  displays  a flow of a process and is  used for detection of shortcomings in a process.  Process Map includes the usage of  Flowcharts and Block Diagrams.

The graph in a Process Map  includes the  starting points and ending points of various processes and sub processes, inputs,  outputs  and potential direction.  Mapping of an entire process in detail needs  several sub-process maps in addition to overview process map or a Complex Block Diagram.


A flowchart is a representation of a process graphically where it displays the entire process from beginning to finish, showing various inputs, pathways with directions, action or decision points and completion of the process. It basically serve as an instruction manual for facilitating detailed analysis and optimizing the workflow and service delivery.

Block Diagram- flowchart

Block Diagram is basically a graphical tool which make use of the picture of any given process. It depicts the design of the networking of its various components as well as the logical flow of the process or the procedure. Each item is represented by a different shape.

Process is indicated by the “rectangle shape.

Connector is indiacted by “circle shape.

Extract is indicated by  “triangle shape.

Decision is indicated by diamond shape.

Using flowcharts assist in successful implementing of  Six Sigma project.

Complex Block Diagram

It includes the assorted block diagrams which are tied at various points in order to follow the complete procedure. It contains  an analogy process and various sequenced processes.

Six Sigma Statistics Sigma apples a wide variety of statistics for the determination of  best practices for deployment of Six Sigma projects.  Statisticians and Six Sigma consultants devise new methods which are based on the studies and experimentations of existed processes.

Statistically, Six Sigma ensures that about 99.9997% of all products produced are of acceptable quality. Some of the popularized statistical tools are as follows.

Control Charts / SPC

Minitab’s suite of control charts and powerful SPC capabilities helps in controlling the processes effectively. It offers tools for identifying the problems in the processes.  Process statistics can be tracked over time with the help of the SPC tools like control charts and the special causes can be identified which may pose threat to the  procedure.

Data / Sampling / Descriptive Statistics and Hypothesis Testing

Minitab 15 includes various  tools and guidance for satisfying the quality improvement projects. Minitab offers the complete range of basic statistical procedures which can be applied for simple estimation and hypothesis testing. It contains descriptive statistics and graphics, hypothesis tests and confidence intervals, variance, and association.

Measurement System Analysis (MSA) and Gage R&R

Minitab 15 includes the gage analyses and related tools to maintain higher standards of quality of  the process data. Minitab contains  a full suite of Measurement Systems Analysis commands to check the measurement system.

Online Statistics Textbooks

Online books contain Computer-Assisted Statistics Teaching and a highly interactive online textbook that includes dynamic displays like animations and simulations. It presents computer-based training based on data centered approach.

Process Capability / Capability Indices

The capability index is useful for measuring the continual improvement using trends over time, for  prioritizing the order leading to process improvement and for determining process capability in meeting customer requirements.

Others Statistical tools includes  Rational Subgroups and Subgrouping, regression analysis, SigmaXL, Variation.

Benefits of the Implementing Six Sigma Project

The benefits of implementing the Six Sigma projects can be seen in various areas of business such as finance, operations, organization , Information Technology etc.  These benefits justify the focus on devoting the resources, modifying the processes and identifying and eliminating the defects in the system.

Financial Benefits of Six Sigma Projects

It  leads to the creation of  additional revenue and reduction of costs by avoiding taxes. It provides for faster retun on investment by enabling cost avoidance. Profitability  of existing products and revenue of existed sources is increased.  It leads to reduction in the cost of production, cost of servicing is lowered and shareholder value is increased. It also increases the cash flow of the company.

Organizational Benefits of Six Sigma Projects

One of the major organizational benefit is that it  builds the company reputation and creates the new customer opportunities.  It leads to strengthening of company vision and mission and gives competitive edge in market position over competitors. It leads to increase customer satisfaction due to improvement in ability to serve the customers.

Operational Benefits of Six Sigma Projects

Operational benefits includes reducing the employee work loads for undesirable work and eliminating the non value added activites. It improves the proper utilization of workspace and morale of the team and employees is boosted.  It causes reduction in the cycle time of production and other related processes by focusing on efficient methods of work.  It increases the employee and process productivity.

It emphasizes on effective communication between departments and groups leading to proper cross functional deployment. It leads to simplification of the process by reducing the process steps, person working hours, external inputs and smooth process flow.

Information Technology Benefits of Six Sigma Projects

It  decreases maintenance costs and improves application and system performance.  It improves system utilization rate and enables service level agreement  obligations.  Efficiency of support activities is increased and value of technology is preserved. Documention requirement is reduced and automation leads to increase in productivity.

Implementing Six Sigma

The implementation of Six Sigma requires investment in training, culture evolution and organizational infrastructure. Reduction in the costs and increase in sales can be achieved by applying the Six Sigma Methodology.

However to bring about the culture shift in the organization requires resource commitment. Here employees think about impacting the customer and communicate using a consistent language with in business.

The probability of the successful implementation  of the Six Sigma is very high as it takes a statistical way of bringing about the quality improvement .  Six Sigma provides the competitive edge to the industry if it is properly implemented.

Implementing the Six Sigma depends on lots of variables, some of the prescribed guidelines are as follows.

Selection of the Right Project

Organizations need to carry out the risk assessment analysis which helps in the identification of the right project.  Selection of the implementation projects need to be carry out with precautions as it can make or break the entire project.

Risk assessment should involves the all possible critical factors such as potential benefits, costs associated with the project, it’s acceptability and the possible risk of failure.

Formulate Effective Deployment Strategies

Effective deployment strategy needs to be formulated in order to ensure the successful implementation of the deployment strategy. These should be able to tackle the problems associated with the implementation of Six Sigma project.

Major focus should be on evolving the strategies which are innovative and provides for efficient deployment leading to growth and identification of defects..

Brainstorming sessions and taking the feedback, inputs from all the employees involved with the process helps in devising the successful deployment strategy.

Regular checks and Follow-Ups

Regular follow up is essential to ensure that implementation are carried out as initially designed.  It happens usually that while following a strategy various new issues may be encountered and project may distract from its directed target. Therefore checks up and follow up are essential to keep the things on track.

Deviations are identified as soon as they occur and corrective steps are taken well in time.

Six Sigma Consultants

While implementing quality within the organizations, professionals feel they should have the power to bring about the desired change themselves. However when one does not have proper idea to proceed then it’s better to take help from the experts outside the organization because change is essential to survive and stay competitive in the prevailing market.

Consultants lead the change in the organization and helps in providing the effective solution to the problems.  They possess advanced knowledge and expertise at the matter in hand. They are the best persons to provide explanations on related subject and got great communication and presentation skills.

Six Sigma Consultants are highly trained professionals who have rich experience in implementation of Six Sigma and improvement in quality standards in various organizations. They provide support in various fields relating to documentation, management, training, legal or technical. Consultants understand the client’s requirements & develop appropriate programs leading to precise and quick solutions.

The implementing of Quality within the organization has profound implications on the compensation and organizational structure. Some of the employees may be biased however Six Sigma consultant is concerned only with the outcome and impartial in their approach.

List of Six Sigma Consultants

Six Sigma Consultants are a proven support system for the implementation of the changes in an organization and prepares them to stay competitive in the challenging scenarios of business world. They provide customized solutions, training, expertise in various aspects like Quality Management, Training, Technology, Project management, Development, Integration, Medical, Designing, etc.

List of consultants proving their services in India are as follows. .

Anexas Consultancy, Asian Institute of Quality Management, TreMyn,

BMG India, Business Excellence Institute, eXample India , Indian Statistical Institute

Business Strategic Solutions, DSS Systems & Software Technologies Limited

Innovative Mindz Consultants Pvt. Ltd., KPMG India, Six Sigma Excellence,

Omnex, Projects India, QAI India Limited, TQM International Pvt. Ltd,

Quality Growth Services. RvaluE Consulting Pvt. Ltd.,

Six Sigma Alchemy (P) Ltd.,Sigma Trainers and Consultants in Quality Improvement

Six Sigma Companies

Companies which implement the Six Sigma initiatives in one way or another are called as Six Sigma Companies.  Each company implements Six Sigma within its unique scope. One of the aspects of Six Sigma is that it can be adjusted and tailored to meet the needs of the individuals and strategy of a company. This feature has led to various levels of implementation and deployment.

GE has deployed the Six Sigma in a corporate driven top down approach. However not every company has followed the same way.  Some companies prefer to carry out smaller projects and then move up for full scale deployment.

Companies have varying deployment scope.

Corporate : In these companies the Six Sigma program is a corporate-wide initiative which is completely  supported by the CEO and executive team.

Business Unit : In this case of deployment one or more Business Units are implementing  Six Sigma.

Black Belt : This level of deployment refers to a small level of involvement in Six Sigma . To work on projects, they have trained Black Belts or hired a few  Black Belts from outside.

Following companies have implemented Six Sigma successfully in one form or the other.

List of Six Sigma Companies

3M,  Acme Markets, Advanced Micro Devices, Agilent Technologies, Air Canada, ALCAN,, AXA, Bank of America, Bechtel Corporation, Boeing, CAE Aviation Training, Canada Post, Caterpillar, CIGNA, ,Cognizant Technology Solutions, Computer Sciences Corporation, Cummins Inc., Deere & Company, Dell, Delphi Corporation, Denso, DHL, Dominion Resources, Dow Chemical Company, Dow Chemical Joint Ventures, DSB Bank, DuPont, Eastman Kodak Company, EMC, Flextronics,

Ford Motor Company, General Electric,General Dynamics, Genpact, GlaxoSmithKline, Heinz Co., Honeywell[14], Hertel, HSBC Group, Idearc Media, Ingram Micro, Intrawest ULC, Inventec, JEA, Korea Telecom, Kraton Polymers, KTF, LG Group, Lockheed Martin,Mando Corporation, McKesson Corporation, Merrill Lynch, Methodia, Microflex Inc., Motorola, Mumbai Dabbawala or NMTBSA

National Australia Group Europe, Network Rail, Nortel Networks, Northrop Grumman, Organo Corporation, Owens-Illinois, Patheon, Precision Castparts Corp., Quest Diagnostics, Raytheon, Samsung Group, SGL Group, Shinhan Bank, Shinhan Card, Shop Direct Group, Siemens AG, SKF, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Staples Inc., Sterlite Optical Technologies

Teradyne, Trane, Textron, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Toshiba Matsushita Display,

United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, UnitedHealth Group, Vodafone, Volt Information Sciences, Whirlpool, Wipro, Xerox