What is Six Sigma: An Overview of Six Sigma Methodology

So you’ve heard of Six Sigma training and always wondered what all the fuss was about. Bottom line… it is a business process that allows companies to drastically improve their profitability. How does it manage to achieve this? Well the concept is simple.

Your Company + Better Processes = $$$$

Everyday you go to work and have a process of getting your work done. Everyday, chances are, there are better ways of doing it quicker and more efficiently. Quickness and efficiency equal a better product or service, a happier customer, and higher profits for your company.

Simple right?

Well in theory yes, but in reality it is quite a daunting task. Just imagine all the possible improvements that can be made. From the custodian to the assembly line, millions of processes are waiting to be improved.

Six Sigma is a highly controlled methodology. It demands that you choose only the very best projects that meet your company’s goals. And once they are chosen it demands that the proper resources are dedicated to it. It requires the project be put through an entire process called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, & Control).

Is it really worth it?

If given the dedication it deserves, you bet! There is a reason that Six Sigma is a household term nowadays. It’s all about the quality with Six Sigma. Everything that you do opens up the chances for an error to sneak in. The hope of Six Sigma is to lower those chances. Here’s the breakdown:

Defects per million chances/opportunities

  • 2 sigma = 308,537
  • 3 sigma = 67,000
  • 4 sigma = 6,200
  • 5 sigma = 233
  • 6 sigma = 3.4

What does that translate into?

How does 20% profit margin increase sound? And that’s just for starters. Every time you move up a sigma, it can easily mean a 20% increase for each sigma level.

Sign me up! How long will it take?

Well that depends on just how good your quality currently is. With the proper dedication a company can move from 3 Sigma to 4 Sigma within 1 year. However, a good rule of thumb is “the higher your Sigma level is… the longer it will take you to reach the next sigma level.” But as the old adage goes, “the best things come to those who wait”.