Business process improvement
Business process improvement is the analysis of current business processes in order to determine which activities can be improved. It aims to discover inefficiencies, delays, bottleneck, and waste, amongst others, in order to eliminate them through improved processes that are more efficient and deliver greater value to the customer.
Six Sigma definition
Six Sigma is a business process improvement methodology designed to improve processes by decreasing variability and defects. The term Sigma is used to describe the quality of a business process. An organization that is operating at Six Sigma produces 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
Benefits of using Six Sigma
Implementing Six Sigma enables an organization to measure the number of defects in a process and design methods to eliminate them by reducing process variation. Organizations that use the Six Sigma methodology have reduced waste, increased profits, and enhanced shareholder value. Six Sigma is a widely accepted quality concept worldwide, which promotes the continuous improvement of processes, increases customer satisfaction, helps companies to reduce costs, and improve their productivity and quality of project outputs by a reduction in defects.
The DMAIC methodology for Six Sigma
To implement Six Sigma in existing processes, businesses can use a five-step model called DMAIC which is short for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control as outlined below. DMAIC is built around the basic principle of Y=f(x) where Y represents the output and x represents the inputs. Y represents a dependent variable – and is dependent on x – and represents the symptoms or the effect of a problem.
Define – The problem and the ideal terms of the targets to be achieved are defined.
Measure – Relevant data about the process and the problem is collected using appropriate tools.
Analyze – The process is analyzed to identify the cause-effect relationship between inputs and outputs.
Improve – The solutions for eliminating the root causes are implemented using appropriate tools.
Control – Standards and controls are established to sustain improvements in the long run.
SIPOC model for identifying process elements
The SIPOC model is one of the most important tools in the Six Sigma Define phase of the DMAIC methodology. SIPOC is short for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. The SIPOC model is used by Six Sigma practitioners at a high level for representing a process in terms of a series of steps that convert an input into an output. Suppliers provide the inputs, and the customers are the recipients of the outputs. It is useful to have a clear understanding of the purpose and the scope of a process.
Roles and responsibilities in Six Sigma
During a Six Sigma project, members of an organization are assigned specific roles to play. These include:
Tapera Mangezi, PMP, PMI-PBA, SMC, is the founder and director of Proximate Academy, a project management training and consultancy company. He is also a certified senior SAP plant maintenance consultant and project management consultant with many years of experience in working on various projects within the utilities, energy, and public sectors, and the manufacturing, logistics, facilities, and mining industries. Tapera has a strong engineering background and also holds various other certifications. He is currently working towards his MSc in Business Management with a specialization in Project Management at the Edinburgh Napier University. Tapera writes about business analysis and business processes.