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Continuous improvement – and therefore change – is needed to help companies to remain competitive in a pressurised economy. Companies of all types and sizes are constantly looking for ways to carry out their processes better, faster, cheaper, smoother and with less waste and higher profit margins. For this to happen, they also need strong leaders who are well informed and have absolute control of business processes and functions.
This is why lean management has become so important – the business principle and system of finding numerous, far-reaching ways to reduce waste, automate and streamline as much as possible. There is a now a new method and business system bringing sustainable business improvement and helping companies to build better profit margins – Six Sigma.
What Is Six Sigma?
You may find that the term Six Sigma is sometimes referred to as a quality measurement system. This is true. However, it is more complex than that and can provide companies with far more benefits than simply an improvement in the standard of their production output.
The ultimate aim of Six Sigma is to take a company towards perfection in the way it is managed and run. It is a data-driven process of change and methodology to identify and eliminate defects throughout the operational lifecycle of companies – from the production line up to the way the business is managed by strong, insightful leaders.
Six Sigma involves a statistical representation of the way in which a process is carried out. By creating measurable data, it is possible to improve the way every company, director, manager or employee works, and how machinery operates. The overarching aim is to create measurable and demonstrable improvements in their efficiency.
Six Sigma principles are based largely on eliminating the chances of error or defects. Optimum efficiency can be achieved only if a company or individual knows the likely issues and faults that can occur. Six Sigma evaluates their ways of working when measured against expectations and a perfect score.
The variable data that is collated by Six Sigma techniques provides a platform to carry out positive decision making and introduce improvements that can be measured and tracked using the same data systems.
In other words, 6 sigma data techniques seek out anything in your manufacturing processes and business functions that can be improved, underpins positive changes and therefore increases your profitable growth.
Six Sigma Principles
The Six Sigma principles are:
All business processes can be measured and then analysed.
Using this, defects can be minimalised and variables reduced, to build continuous improvement.
This continuous improvement of processes is directed towards a quantifiable financial return.
To control and implement the process improvements – and manage the changes in the organisation – strong leadership is essential.
The recommended approach is to create Six Sigma Champions throughout the company (there is more on this later in this guide to Six Sigma).
One of the core principles of Six Sigma is that continuous improvement through the minimisation of defects – and reduced the variability of outcomes – is essential.
Six Sigma Methodologies
Generally, integrating 6 Sigma into a company (and therefore Six Sigma training) focuses on two methodologies.
One is that to make improvements, you need to Define; Measure; Analyse; Improve, and Control.
The second core principle of Six Sigma is that staff supporting Six Sigma improvements need to Plan; Do; Check, and Act.
What Is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean 6 Sigma describes the way in which a team can work together within the data-driven methodologies, to improve business performance by systematically removing waste and decreasing defects and variations.
Ultimately, lean 6 Sigma amalgamates the principles of lean management with the statistical focus, benefits and outcomes of Six Sigma.
Lean Six Sigma is often viewed as a more advanced form of Six Sigma. It integrates together much of modern business thinking, to minimise waste and increase ways of making a profit. As a result, lean 6 Sigma may be a key consideration for your business when choosing which type of training to undertake.
Six Sigma Training
In order for Six Sigma principles to be effective and for companies to benefit from this innovative approach to business improvement, it needs to be adopted company-wide and all staff need to be engaged.
There is a growing range of specialist Six Sigma training companies, who can work with employees at all levels of a company. They can build a commitment and understanding, to ensure that all Six Sigma projects are implemented seamlessly. This involves creating a hierarchy – different levels of involvement and understanding – to ensure that Six Sigma works as it should and reaches its aims without your company.
The most basic level of this is a Six Sigma Champion. This is someone within an organisation – often at executive level – who promotes the principles and actively encourages the implementation of Six Sigma. However, the Six Sigma Champion would not have the quantitative skills to actually implement the projects. This primary role of the Six Sigma Champion would be to smooth out any obstacles to this data-driven improvement method. They would communicate and report on its progress, for example.
They may also be required to help choose the individuals best suited to be trained. Six Sigma Champions usually take a lead in overseeing budget and timescale control too, to ensure Six Sigma principles are applied efficiently. This would mean they would need to work closely with decision-makers and the different project personnel.
Six Sigma training and certification is often broken down into “belts”, the same way in which progress through different levels of martial arts are measured. These also equate to different roles in a Six Sigma implementation project.
You would begin training in Six Sigma principles at White Belt, go through Yellow and Green then develop your acumen and skills towards Black Belt and eventually reach Master Black Belt Six Sigma certification. Someone accredited as a Black Belt in Six Sigma has the insights and tools to project manage its implementation. If the Six Sigma project was relatively straightforward, a person qualified as a Green Belt could manage it.
When someone reaches Master Black Belt in Six Sigma, they have a strong command of the tools, techniques and management principles embodied in the 6 sigma data-driven improvement model. This level of Six Sigma certification also qualifies them to pass on their knowledge and skills to staff working to the other belt and roles.
How To Achieve Six Sigma Certification
There is currently no one authority that issues and regulates Six Sigma certification. There are various bodies – at various levels of authority and scope – that provide Six Sigma certification, with the support and recognition of different business sectors. This includes the British Quality Foundation and the BSI Group.
Choosing Six Sigma Training Companies
The options for Six Sigma training are varied and the companies providing 6 sigma consultancy come in all shapes and sizes.
The content of their courses and the systems and structures they use can vary. For example, some will provide the Six Sigma software as part of the training programme. Other Six Sigma training companies would offer discounts on the statistical software your company could use for the journey towards Six Sigma certification. Some 6 Sigma training providers charge extra for the certification process, while others include it in the price. There are also lean Six Sigma training companies, who specialise in embedding the methodologies, principles and aims of both Six Sigma and lean management.
If you are unsure which of the Six Sigma training companies is right for your business, an excellent starting point is finding ones that offer to the most effective fees. You need to easily compare the overall cost with the elements you want to be included in your Six Sigma implementation support on this site. Finding lean Six Sigma training suited to your individual business has never been easier.
After all, the main reason you are considering introducing Six Sigma or lean Six Sigma within your company is to improve your business and make more profit, so you clearly don’t want to waste money on consultancy or training services that are inappropriate or priced too high.
Use our straightforward and “lean” comparison service on this website to pinpoint the Six Sigma training company or Six Sigma consultancy that is most appropriate for your needs. We can help you to get Six Sigma business support at a price that makes it feasible, putting you on the first decisive step towards this far-reaching business improvement programme. Discover and book the most appropriate Six Sigma and lean Six Sigma training available for your business, today.