Understanding the Six Sigma Methodology

The Six Sigma methodology is a highly qualified, efficient and effective form of business management.

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The Six Sigma methodology is a highly qualified, efficient and effective form of business management, which adopts as its main theme the correction of defects in the processes of organizations and the improvement and optimization of these processes through the reduction of unnecessary costs.

In the past, the Six Sigma methodology applied only in the manufacturing sector, in the manufacture of products, but over time it has evolved and currently has a strong presence also in the service sector.

Also known as 6 Sigma, it is mainly based on data and statistical analysis to measure the level of operational quality of a company, by looking for flaws in its processes and the development of solutions that act directly on the origin of the problem.

How was the Six Sigma methodology created?

Sigma is a letter of the Greek alphabet used as a measure of statistical variance. When applied in the world of business management, refers to the frequency with which a certain process of the company moves away from perfection and consumes more resources than the minimum necessary to satisfy the customer. The sigma methodology considers the appearance of defects within a certain number of opportunities.

In the 20s, the American engineer Walter Andrew Shewhart, pioneer and expert in statistical quality control, determined that a process that presented a variation equal to or above three sigma or its normal average, should be revised and corrected. Whereas quality levels were measured in a universe of thousands of opportunities.

But in the 80s a team of engineers from Motorola, led by Bob Galvin and Bill Smith, found that these figures did not bring very good results, and then began to measure quality levels not in thousands, but in millions of opportunities.

Thus was born the Six Sigma methodology, known for its excellence and used by companies around the world, whose level of quality generates only 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

The five essential steps for planning and implementing the Six Sigma methodology

  • Define: determine the main needs of the company and the most important points for the quality of the processes involved in the business.
  • Measure: measure and evaluate the performance of these processes.
  • Analyze: study and map the collected data, in order to locate the origin of the problems in the processes and identify opportunities to improve them.
  • Improve: optimization of processes through the implementation of solutions that are both corrective and preventive.
  • Control: accompany the effect of the solutions in the short, medium and long term, by means of the control of the performance of the processes and pointing out possible additional improvements.

Now that you know what the Six Sigma methodology is, also see the BPM concept and understand how it connects to integrated process management.

Watch also this video which in a very simple way explains how Six Sigma works: