All over the business world, Six Sigma is making its mark. Effective Six Sigma implementation has helped to increase the efficiency and profitability of companies in every sector. But how do you know if Six Sigma is right for your business? You must first understand the steps involved in Six Sigma implementation and ensure you are able to carry them out correctly before you can make this decision. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, your Six Sigma system will have limited effectiveness.
The first thing you have to do as a company when considering Six Sigma implementation is to develop a statement outlining why you need this type of process improvement methodology and what you hope to achieve. Without a clear understanding of how Six Sigma implementation will impact your company both in the short- and long-term, there will be no impetus to maintain the continuous improvement efforts that Six Sigma demands.
Once you have decided to use this methodology, you will need to take concrete steps to ensure that your Six Sigma implementation is as successful as possible. You must first make certain that you have the right people in the right places to keep your program moving forward because virtually every department will be involved in or impacted by your Six Sigma implementation. Once you have identified departmental leaders, you need to educate staff at every level about what Six Sigma is and what it will require from each team.
Without the informed support of all members of your organization, your Six Sigma implementation will not be fully effective. That’s why it’s important to set up a system to ensure that employees’ contributions to your Six Sigma efforts are recognized promptly and regularly and that all team members are kept updated on your progress. This is the best way to ensure the continued participation of every member of your team, and it must be maintained both during the initial Six Sigma implementation and after the program is up and running.
Once you have accomplished these tasks, it is critical to identify who is in charge of the Six Sigma implementation as a whole. Without one person or group taking clear ownership of the process, it can lose cohesion very quickly. Your Six Sigma champion will need to maintain clear governance throughout the process, and must be intimately familiar with all aspects of Six Sigma methodologies in order to successfully guide the integration of those methodologies into the overall structure of the business. Ideally, you should have a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or Master Black Belt in charge, supported by a team of Six Sigma Green Belts within various departments throughout the organization.
You will also need to come up with a prioritized list of items to be addressed as part of your Six Sigma implementation before you get underway. One of the first items on that list should be coming up with an appropriate measurement system for each aspect of your organization and production process. After all, if you can’t measure accurately, you won’t be able to gauge what areas can be improved upon.
The Red Cross Hospital in Beverwijk is an excellent example of a company that has managed to successfully implement Six Sigma methodology throughout its entire organizational structure. While the hospital had implemented a number of quality control measures with some success over the years, hospital administration realized that the system was lacking an organizational framework, and it was not operating as efficiently as it could be. Indeed, it wasn’t until the hospital’s leaders instituted a wide-scale Lean Six Sigma implementation they actually began to achieve the results they had been looking for. In fact, three of their projects resulted in annual savings of more than $250,000 each: improving patient scheduling in the operating room, reducing accounts receivable and optimizing technical maintenance.