Six Sigma Software: Definition, Types and Uses

One of the best ways to optimize your business is through the use of Six Sigma software.

Six Sigma is a set of techniques/tools that aim to improve company output, which is typically done by finding and eliminating inconsistencies or defects in service or product processes.

Six Sigma is especially important if in charge of a large corporation, or are operating in a very competitive market.

Whichever the case may be, a small boost to your business might mean a giant leap over your competitors or a boost in profit.

Six Sigma software and certification also acts as a status symbol – it proves to customers that your business is serious about quality and consistency of the product.

What Is Six Sigma Software?

Six Sigma has been around as a business methodology since 1986.

As a concept, however, it dates back to the 196th century. Its early versions can be found within Carl Frederick Grauss’s bell curve and Carl Shewhart’s analysis of the three sigma deviation from the mean.

In the 1980s, US mobile communications giant Motorola made a lasting impact on the way businesses operate by introducing the Six Sigma methodology.

Motorola’s work in this area began a decade earlier when executive Art Sundry realized that he was dissatisfied with the consistency of quality in their product. This led to an internal search for a solution.

Two years later, Motorola had won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, with the methodology spreading to other major firms like General Electric, AlliedSignal, and Citibank.

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Some of the main principles of Six Sigma include:

  • A focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any project.
  • An emphasis on strong management leadership and support.
  • A commitment to making decisions on the basis of verifiable data and statistical methods, rather than assumptions.

Types Of Six Sigma Software

There are several pieces of software out there that promise to help you incorporate Six Sigma methodologies into your business processes, but there are four main types that they all fall into, which are:

  • Analysis tools – These are used to perform statistical / process analysis.
  • Program management tools – They can manage and track a corporation’s entire Six Sigma program.
  • DMAIC and Lean online project collaboration tools – As the name suggests, these are used to Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control processes.
  • Data Collection Tools – These feed information directly into the analysis tools and reduce the time spent gathering data.

Six Sigma Methodologies

5 Whys

The 5 Whys Six Sigma methodology was introduced by the executives at Toyota: their approach was to keep asking questions until they’d find weaknesses in the processes.

The way it works is, you need to start from the problem and ask “why is it happening?

If the answer doesn’t get you close to the solution of the problem, you just keep asking “why” until you get there.

For example:

  1. Why was the company in the red last quarter?
    Because there were a lot of charge-backs.
  2. Why were there a lot of charge-backs?
    Because the customers were dissatisfied with the product.
  3. Why were they dissatisfied with the product?
    Because some of the products were defective.
  4. Why were the products defective?
    Because there were a few malfunctions on the assembly line.
  5. Why were there malfunctions?
    Because the hardware is starting to get outdated.

As you probably guessed, the name comes from the idea that you’re going to find your problem after asking “why?” five times.

CTQ Tree

If you find workflow diagrams helpful in laying out process issues, the CTQ (critical to quality) tree can be vital in identifying client needs and creating solutions.breaks down the process into different components.

The way it works is, you first identify the critical needs of your customers. Then, you add highly-specific drivers to each need. Meaning, a factor that the customer uses to identify whether or not their critical need is solved. Finally, you add measurable performance requirements to satisfy the driver.

For example: let’s say you’re launching an E-commerce store selling winter coats.

  1. The critical requirements could be for the coats to be warm and comfortable.
  2. For it to be comfortable, it has to be made out of special materials.
  3. The special materials have to be made out of 80% wool, at least.

CTQ trees can be used outside of Six Sigma software, but they were initially created as part of this methodology.

How Six Sigma Software Will Solve Your Problems

We’ve already established that Six Sigma software is aimed at improving the consistency of business processes, but utilizing it has a wide range of likely benefits for your business.

Increased Efficiency

Each process within a workflow is analyzed as part of Six Sigma to seek out weaknesses that are affecting efficiency. These weaknesses are then eliminated or mitigated, leaving the business processes measurably more efficient.

The ability to measure and quantify the benefits – particularly financial ones – makes Six Sigma software as popular as it is amongst businesses large and small, both of which need to be able to justify changes to processes.

Better Customer Service

Any process improvement has to be not only about improving efficiency and delivering financial benefits, but also ensuring that customers get a better service and end product.

In the case of Motorola, Six Sigma was used to deliver a more consistent product. This also helps with customer service – by freeing up the staff that has to take care of defects and complaints, you end up with a bigger focus on customer care.

Improved Staff Morale

There are many things that can affect the morale of your staff, which in turn affects every aspect of the way your business runs. One of these is forcing them to spend their working lives dealing with inefficient processes that increase their workload at the same rate as increasing their frustration levels.

Eliminating the processes that are causing this frustration, and freeing up time for more constructive and rewarding work is a big step towards ensuring you have a happy and more productive workforce.

Conclusion

Six Sigma software and the methodology behind it has revolutionized the way businesses operate by putting the focus squarely on delivering what the customer is expecting more consistently than before.

The limit on acceptable ‘defects’ in products and services when utilizing Six Sigma is 3.4 per 1 million and its root-and-branch approach to improving processes ensuring that your business will be eliminating problems not just reactively but also proactively.

For small-to-medium sized business, the benefits of Six Sigma software are clear. Gaining the certification will help you stand out from your competitors in the market, while the process improvements will make your product or service one that keeps satisfied customers coming back time and time again. If your product or service is in a marketplace where quality is critical, not using Six Sigma software is setting yourself up to fail.

If your product or service is in a marketplace where quality is critical, not using Six Sigma software is setting yourself up to fail.

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