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### six sigma

1. 1. SIX SIGMA "Sigma" is a letter of the Greek alphabet and is used in statistics as a measure of variation. Sigma is a statistical unit of measurement reflective of-- * Process capability. * Process performance, i.e. variation. Joining customer specifications and variation provides the method to evaluate defects per million opportunities (DPMO). The higher the Sigma value, the lesser the chance of a defect. • Six Sigma level—A process produces less than 3.4 defects in a million opportunities. • Five Sigma level—233 defects in a million opportunities. • Four Sigma level—6,210 defects in a million opportunities. • Three Sigma level—66,807 defects in a million opportunities. • Two Sigma level—3,08,537 defects in a million opportunities. • One Sigma level—6,97,672 defects in a million opportunities. An improvement of one Sigma means a quantum leap forward in quality. For example, a mail delivery system that operates at Four Sigma loses 20,000 pieces of mail per hour. A Six Sigma mail delivery system loses only 7 pieces of mail per hour. An improvement from Three Sigma to Six Sigma represents a 20,000-fold improvement in quality. 4 Sigma 6 Sigma 5,000 incorrect surgical operations per week 1.7 incorrect operations per week Two short or long landings per day at major airports One short or long landing every five years 200,000 wrong drug prescriptions each year 68 wrong prescriptions per year 54 hours of computer system downtime per year 2 minutes of downtime per year One missed putt per 9 rounds of golf One missed putt every 163 years
2. 2. What is Six Sigma? "Six Sigma" means a failure rate of 3.4 parts per million or 99.9997% perfect; however, the term in practice is used to denote more than simply counting defects. It literally, refers to the reduction of errors to six standard deviations from the mean value of a process output or task opportunities, i.e. about 1 error in 3,00,000 opportunities. In modern practice, this terminology has been applied to a quality improvement methodology for industry. Six Sigma can now imply a whole culture of strategies, tools, and statistical methodologies to improve the bottom line of companies. In all, six sigma is a rigorous analytical process for anticipating and solving problems. The objective of six sigma is to improve profits through defect reduction, yield improvement, improved consumer satisfaction and best-in-class product / process performance. This leads to defect reduction and improvement in profits, employee morale and quality of product. Six Sigma is both a management practice as well as a capability measure. The fundamental definition of Six Sigma capability refers to a process where "the center of the process is away from the nearest specification limit by six standard deviations of the process". The customer of that process determines the specification limits within which the process has to perform. Sigma capability of a process is a measure and therefore can assume any integer value - "doing six sigma" implies that we move towards this level of sigma capability, not as a pre-requisite, but more as a target destination on a journey. Six Sigma as a management practice refers to the business initiative undertaken at an enterprise to systematically enhance the capability of its business processes to better meet/exceed customer specifications, resulting in a tangible business gain. Six Sigma has evolved into something that’s more than a quality system like Total Quality Management or ISO. It’s also a way of doing business. "Six Sigma is many things, and it would perhaps be easier to list all the things that Six Sigma quality is not. Six Sigma can be seen as: a vision; a philosophy; a symbol; a metric; a goal; a methodology." Using the Six Sigma initiative companies will focus on achieving specific Primary Performance Drivers. These may include resource use, technical advancement, risk management, speed to market technical performance. The goal is for these Primary Performance Drivers to become core competencies.
3. 3. "Six Sigma is the relentless quest for perfection through the disciplined use of fact-based, data-driven decision making. Six Sigma is the way to take the collective intelligence and abilities of the employees, dealers, and suppliers and channel them to the highest priorities to satisfy all the stakeholders." It uses a set of strategies, statistics and methods to improve the processes from designing to manufacturing a product; from marketing products and services to providing business information to the internal and external customers. By applying the rigorous practices of Six Sigma one can achieve breakthroughs in financial and quality performance that would otherwise be unattainable. Six Sigma is "Helping People Solve Problems with Unknown Solutions" Six Sigma gets to the root of the problem by recreating processes so that the defects are never produced in the first place. Six Sigma approach is the ability to express a business issue in statistical terms. A statistical solution is then developed to solve the business problem. Six Sigma also extends metrics and measurement that makes it easy to define the base line, goal line and the distance that needs to be covered to reach the goal. This results in the creation of a new or significantly improved process that statistically meets your business requirement on a sustained basis. In short, Six Sigma brings a combination of process transformation and continuous improvement to an organization's drive towards quality. In 1891, British physicist Lord Kelvin wrote, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it.” Mikel Harry, a noted Six Sigma authority, extends the thought as, “we don't know what we don’t know; we can’t act on what we don’t know; we won’t know until we search; we won’t search for what we don’t question; we don’t question what we don’t measure.” Both imply that if one failed to quantify the results of what one was doing, in a way, it means that one might not understand what one was really doing. Hence, organizations that are unable to track the impact of quality improvements on profitability cannot know what changes need to be made to improve their profit margins. And most importantly, profitability is the natural concern of management in organisations. If a quality initiative failed to present its quantitative bottom-line value to the management, it will lose the management's commitment to it and, eventually, fade away. In contrast with other quality initiatives, Six Sigma recognizes that there is a direct correlation between the number of product defects, wasted operating costs, and the level of customer satisfaction. In the short term, Six Sigma is a method to eliminate defects and the opportunity for defects. It utilizes a statistical unit of measurement to measure the capability of the process, then achieve defect free performance, and ultimately increase the bottom-line and customer satisfaction.
6. 6. demonstrate that they have effectively used the approach to benefit customers, shareholders, and employees. History of Six Sigma Bill Smith, an engineer and a scientist at Motorola came up with the concept of Six Sigma in 1986. He introduced it with an aim to standardise the way defects are counted. The roots of Six Sigma as a measurement standard can be traced back to Carl Frederick Gauss (1777-1885) who introduced the concept of the normal curve. Six Sigma as a measurement standard in product variation can be traced back to the 1920s when Walter Shewhart showed that three Sigma from the mean is the point where a process requires correction. Six Sigma provided Motorola the key to addressing quality concerns throughout the organisation, from manufacturing to support functions. Under the chairmanship of Bob Galvin, in the mid 1980s Motorola engineers decided that the traditional quality levels measuring defects in thousands of opportunities didn’t provide enough granularity. Instead, they wanted to measure the defects per million opportunities. Motorola developed this new standard and created the methodology. It was Motorola, which conceptualised six sigma as a quality goal in the mid 1980s and first recognised that modern technology was so complex that old ideas about acceptable quality levels were no longer applicable. But the term, and the company's innovative six sigma programme, only came to real prominence in 1989 when Motorola announced it would achieve a defect rate of not-more-than 3.4 parts per million within five years. This claim effectively changed the focus of quality within the US, from one where quality levels were measured in percentages (parts per hundred) to a discussion of parts per million or even parts per billion. Motorola admits it wasted more than \$7 million dollars trying to train from the bottom up in their organization. Many workers were unable to understand statistical thinking; others found resistance in the middle management ranks due to ignorance. Recognizing their mistake, the company established “Motorola University” and put thousands of Motorola executives through training. Today, Motorola leads its industry in pagers, cell phones, and mobile communications. When it comes to making it all work, the bottom line is the top line -– management needs to drive the organization through the journey ahead, constantly leading by example and empowering those throughout the organization to power the vehicle. Six Sigma helped Motorola realise powerful bottom line results; it documented more than \$16 billion in savings as a result of its Six Sigma efforts. The application of Six Sigma also contributed to Motorola winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award in 1988.
7. 7. It was not long before many of the US giants - Xerox, Boeing, GE, Kodak - were following Motorola's lead. When Motorola publicised the success of Six Sigma in 1995, Allied Signal was one of the first to grab the concept. Allied Signal is reported to have saved \$175 million in bottomline revenues in 1995 itself. However, the final push to this movement was achieved when Mr Jack Welch made Six Sigma a religion at GE. Jack Welch claims that by 1998, they had generated \$750 million in Six Sigma savings over and above their investment and would get \$1.5 billion in savings the next year. Their operating margins went from 14.8 percent in 1996 to 18.9 percent in 2000. Since then, hundreds of companies around the world have adopted Six Sigma as a way of doing business. This is a direct result of many of America's leaders openly praising the benefits of Six Sigma
8. 8. The Six Sigma philosophy Some companies simply see six sigma as a measure of quality that should just be used to strictly control the delivery of defect-free product. However this is not the view held by those organisations, such as Motorola, that have driven forward the six sigma approach, and have gained the major benefits from it. Rather than a random application of a quality measure, these leading companies see six sigma as the basis of a best-in-class philosophy, and a long-term business strategy. As such, six sigma becomes an evolutionary phase of a company's quality strategy, serving to further enhance the results of existing programs. The fundamental objective of this approach to six sigma is the implementation of a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction, often through the application of improvement projects. In this way, waste and cost are driven out of the organisation as quality improves, and customer satisfaction is increased through the continuous improvement in quality. Moreover, while efforts have concentrated on Design for six sigma or project-based manufacturing improvements, there is a growing realisation that six sigma is effectively applicable in every process and transaction within a company. Using the common measurement index of 'defects per unit', where a unit can be virtually anything including a line of code or an administrative form, companies have started to utilise the approach to reduce defects in non- manufacturing operations. Six Sigma uses the very best from Total Quality Management, Process Control, Statistical Analysis and Control, and a new paradigm of Total Customer Satisfaction to deliver almost zero defects - and it can also deliver a dramatic increase in profits. • Six Sigma is a management strategy for change. • A key focus is the end customer and their specific needs. • Financial return and gains for the bottom line are also emphasised. • Statistics and a data and fact driven decisions are central. • The target of perfection is 3.4 defects in every million opportunities. • Six Sigma has its own methodology - DMAIC - for process improvement. • Design of new products and services is also catered for. The main objective behind Six Sigma is to provide businesses with tools to improve the capability of their business processes, thus
9. 9. increase profits and eliminating unwanted factors like variability, defects and waste. It covers all types of processes, whether it is manufacturing, transactional, production, customer service, etc. Six Sigma is a rigorous and a systematic methodology that utilizes information (management by facts) and statistical analysis to measure and improve a company's operational performance, practices and systems by identifying and preventing 'defects' in manufacturing and service-related processes, in order to anticipate and exceed expectations of all stakeholders to accomplish effectiveness. Six Sigma is a Four Dimension Performance Ethic – a way to achieve breakthrough performance and bottom-line results through a more rigorous and profound approach to understanding and meeting customer expectations. The main four components of Six Sigma are Metric, Philosophy, Methodology and Tools: 1. Metric: For a process to achieve Six Sigma quality levels, the process should not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). In Six Sigma, a defect is anything that falls outside customer specifications. The Sigma Metric measures variation relative to customer expectations. It helps to quantify quality, to benchmark every product and process and to establish measurable stretch goals. 2. Philosophy: The main philosophy behind Six Sigma is to reduce variation in the business as well as to take customer-focused data driven decisions. 3. Methodology: The Six Sigma Methodology gives a common problem-solving framework and language that helps both- to improve existing processes, and to achieve the level of process performance. The techniques used for problem solving roadmaps and tools in Six Sigma are as follows: A: DMAIC— The central theme in the application of Six Sigma is DMAIC, which stands for: Define – Select the problem or area to be improved. Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables.
10. 10. * Define Customers and Requirements (CTQs) * Develop Problem Statement, Goals and Benefits * Identify Champion, Process Owner and Team * Define Resources * Evaluate Key Organizational Support * Develop Project Plan and Milestones * Develop High Level Process Map A quality team identifies a suitable project based on business objectives, customer needs and feedback. The team identifies Critical to Quality (CTQ) characteristics and items that will have an impact on quality. Measure – Measure the process to determine current performance; quantify the problem. * Define Defect, Opportunity, Unit and Metrics * Detailed Process Map of Appropriate Areas * Develop Data Collection Plan * Validate the Measurement System * Collect the Data * Begin Developing Y=f(x) Relationship * Determine Process Capability and Sigma Baseline The team identifies the key internal processes that influence CTQs and measures the defects related to those processes. Analyze – Analyze and determine the true root causes of the problem, eliminating the assumptions of the past. * Define Performance Objectives * Identify Value/Non-Value Added Process Steps * Identify Sources of Variation * Determine Root Cause(s) * Determine Vital Few x's, Y=f(x) Relationship The team discovers why the defects are generated and identifies key variables. Improve – Improve the process by eliminating defects. * Perform Design of Experiments * Develop Potential Solutions * Define Operating Tolerances of Potential System * Assess Failure Modes of Potential Solutions * Validate Potential Improvement by Pilot Studies * Correct/Re-Evaluate Potential Solution The team confirms the key variables and quantifies their effects on the CTQs. The team identifies the maximum acceptable ranges of key variables and validates a system for measuring deviations and variables. The team modifies the process to stay within the acceptable ranges.
11. 11. Control – Continuous improvement is employed through sustained control and monitoring. Control future process performance. * Define and Validate Monitoring and Control System * Develop Standards and Procedures * Implement Statistical Process Control * Determine Process Capability * Develop Transfer Plan, Handoff to Process Owner * Verify Benefits, Cost Savings/Avoidance, Profit Growth * Close Project, Finalize Documentation * Communicate to Business, Celebrate The tools are put in place to ensure the key variables remain within the maximum accept-able ranges. The methodology focuses mainly on the strategically important outputs of an organisation that affect customer satisfaction. The most critical to quality features are attacked first and the rest follow in order of importance. A Six Sigma scale provides a means of establishing a measure of performance for any tangible and intangible outputs. Master Black Belts, Black belts and green Belts do these improvement projects. Other than these, companies create their own titles to describe the work done by people. In six sigma terminology the top management people or functional leaders are known as champions. They ensure smooth progress of six sigma projects. B: DFSS (Design for Six Sigma)-- DFSS is about developing a new product or service that is defect free. DFSS combines many of the tools that are used to improve existing products of services and integrates voice of the customer and simulation methods to predict new process and product performance. Six Sigma training for new products is called Design for Six Sigma Training or DFSS Training. 4. Tools: Six Sigma utilizes and integrates a broad range of tools– from statistical tools such as design of experiments and hypothesis testing to process design tools such as process mapping and simulation, and change management tools such as facilitation techniques. Some of the “hot topics” that have direct application or can complement a Six Sigma initiative include: 1: e-Commerce and Services. 2: Enterprise Resource Planning. 3: Lean Manufacturing. 4: Customer Relationship Management systems. 5: Strategic business partnership. 6: Knowledge management. 7: Activity-based management. 8: The “process-centered organization”. 9: Globalization. 10: Just-in-time inventory/production.
12. 12. Six Themes of Six Sigma 1: A Genuine Focus on the Customer, backed by an attitude that puts the customers’ needs first, as well as by systems and strategies that serve to tie in the business to the “Voice of the Customer”. 2: Data-and fact driven Management, with effective measurement systems that track both results and outcomes (Ys) and Process, Input and other predictive factors (Xs). 3: Process focus, Management and Improvement, as an engine for growth and success. Processes in Six Sigma are documented, communicated, measured and refined on an ongoing basis. They are also designed or redesigned at intervals, to stay current with customer and business needs. 4: Proactive Management, involving habits and practices that anticipate problems and changes, apply facts and data, and question assumptions about goals and “how we do things”. 5: Boundary less collaboration, featuring cooperation between internal groups and with customers, suppliers and supply chain partners. 6: A drive for Perfection, and yet a tolerance for failure, that gives people in a Six Sigma organization the freedom to test new approaches even while managing risks and learning from mistakes, thereby “raising the bar” of performance and customer satisfaction.
13. 13. Road Map for an organisation adopting Six Sigma standards Step1-- The organisation charters a diagnostic assessment. The aim of the diagnostic assessment is to assess the organisational SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). From this it finds the best opportunities to apply Six Sigma and calculates the potential benefits Six Sigma can bring in—both financial savings and other non-quantifiable benefits; also finds out what is the roadmap for the deployment of Six Sigma—the who/what/when action plan. Another key benefit of this step is that the organisation gets to know the most promising Six Sigma projects they must embark on immediately. This assessment typically is done by a senior QAI consultant and takes 1 week for a 300- member group/location. Step 2-- Based on the above assessment, the organisation appoints a champion for Six Sigma deployment. The champion reports to the CEO, who in turn acts as the ‘sponsor’. Step 3-- The champion selects Black Belt and Green Belt participants, who in turn go through training and Six Sigma project execution. Step 4— The training lasts five days for Green Belts and 20 days for Black Belts. These methodologies have five clear phases or milestones to go through. The Six Sigma training teaches the participants more than 80-120 tools—statistical, quantitative and qualitative in nature. The training covers the DMAIC and DFSS methodologies of Six Sigma. DMAIC is a Process Improvement Methodology while DFSS is a product or Process Design Methodology. The training for Black Belts is spread across 4-6 months: 1 week of training, (first week for D&M phases, second for A phase, third for I phase, fourth for C phase respectively) followed by a four-week gap. During this gap the team performs the tasks they are supposed to do; and creates the ‘deliverables’ for that particular phase. Step 5— During this training, the participants form Six Sigma project teams. These teams are led by Black Belts with two to three Green Belts as team members. Step 5A: During the define phase, The team writes ‘Project Charters’ which enumerate the business case of their Six Sigma project, when they intend to complete it, and what benefits the organisation can achieve.
14. 14. Step 5B: During the measure phase, the team converts the business problem into a statistical problem. That is, the team collects data on the Project Y or CTQ (Critical to Quality) parameter they are targeting for improvement. The team computes the Z or Sigma Level for the CTQ. Step 5C: During the analyse phase, the team brainstorms for causal factors (Xs) for the effect—i.e. the Project Y. The team uses several statistical tools to come up with a mathematical / statistical equation which links the Y with the Xs as Y=F (x). Step 5D: During the improve phase, based on the results of analysis of Y=F (x) equations the team could fit, the team suggests improvement plans; i.e. the team converts the statistical or mathematical solution into a practical solution. The best possible solution is chosen for piloting. The team proves that the situation has improved by collecting and measuring the Sigma value once more. Step 5E: During control phase, the team optimises the process and goes ahead to implement the new process (Standard Operating procedures) on a large scale, organisation-wide. Control and sustenance mechanisms are put in place. Step 6— By the end of approximately four to six months the organisation completes several projects it had undertaken. The champion is involved in each phase of the project—D, M, A, I and C—to monitor the progress of each project. Learnings from these projects are collated and evaluated. Financial benefits are calculated. The teams get certified as green Belts and Black Belts upon writing a certification exam and successfully completing these projects. Learning experience from the projects is spread across the organisation. The organisation gets ready for the next ‘round’ of projects. Implementing Six Sigma Six Sigma focuses on business bottomline. An organisation operating at Six Sigma would save megabucks that would otherwise go into
15. 15. inspection, rework, warranties, etc. A world-class organisation would operate between 4 and 5 sigma. This would mean defect rates of less than 6,200 per million. One can expect most Indian companies to be operating at 3 sigma levels and below. Therefore, one can imagine, the massive savings potential for almost all organisations in this country, be it a manufacturing or a service industry. The basic approach to Six Sigma is no different from what stalwarts like Deming, Juran and Shewhart preached several decades ago. In fact Dr Juran's statement that "all quality improvement occurs on a project-by-project basis and in no other way" can be considered an essential element of Six Sigma. The Six Sigma methodology also uses a modified Shewhart cycle, (Plan-Do-Check-Act) which is called DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control). Six Sigma is a vision, a tool for quality improvement, a benchmark and a profit improvement methodology all rolled into one. While implementing Six Sigma the first task at hand is identifying the factors critical to quality and pinning down defects that put a question mark on quality. Six Sigma converts a business problem into a statistical problem and finds a statistical solution. It then converts the statistical solution into a business solution. This is the basic template for all the Six Sigma project methodologies. There are tools and techniques at different stages that help one understand the problem, diagnose root causes, validate critical root causes and implement corrective action. For example, a tool like the Design Customer Satisfaction and Manufacturing (DCAM) would be used for designing and manufacturing new products, while the cross-functional process mapping (CFPM) would be used for large processes that run through the business. The most interesting part of the Six Sigma implementation is the team formation. Technical leaders, ranked according to the 'belt' system, head six Sigma projects. There are three levels (or Belts) of Six Sigma practitioners based upon the level of competence in understanding and applying related tools-- Green Belt – A person trained in the Six Sigma methodology who is a team member of six sigma process improvement action teams is a green belt. They work on less complex projects. Green Belts are employees trained in Six Sigma who spend a portion of their time completing projects, but maintain their regular work role and responsibilities. Depending on their workload, they can spend anywhere from 10% to 50% of their time on their project(s). Black Belt – A person that is part of the leadership structure for process improvement teams are called "Black Belts" (just as Total Quality utilized "Quality Improvement Team Leaders" to provide structure). Black Belts are highly-regarded, technically-oriented
16. 16. product or line personnel who have an ability to lead teams as well as to advise management. The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt is a professional who can explain Six Sigma philosophies and principles, including supporting systems and tools. The Black Belt should demonstrate team leadership, understand team dynamics, and assign team member roles and responsibilities. They have a thorough understanding of and can use all aspects of the DMAIC model in accordance with Six Sigma principles. They have basic knowledge of lean enterprise concepts, are able to identify non-value-added elements and activities, and are able to use specific tools. Black Belts are the heart and soul of the Six Sigma quality initiative. Their main purpose is to lead quality projects and work full time until they are complete. Black Belts can typically complete 4-6 projects per year. Black Belts also coach Green Belts on their projects, and while coaching may seem innocuous, it can require a significant amount of time and energy. Master Black Belt – A person trained in the six sigma methodology who acts as the organization-wide Six Sigma director or a program manager is a master black belt. He oversees Black Belts and process improvement projects and provides guidance to Black Belts as required. A Master Black belt teaches other six sigma students and helps them achieve Green belt and Black belt status. He thus, understands application and statistical theory behind application; trains other belts; leads project reviews. Master Black Belts are Six Sigma Quality experts that are responsible for the strategic implementations within an organization. Master Black Belt’s main responsibilities are helping to prioritize, select and charter high-impact projects; maintaining the integrity of the Six Sigma measurements, improvements and tollgates; and developing, maintaining and revising Six Sigma training materials. The Master Black Belt should be qualified to teach other Six Sigma facilitators the methodologies, tools, and applications in all functions and levels of the company, and should be a resource for utilizing statistical process control (typically just outside the Black Belt's knowledge base) within processes. Master Black Belts are typically assigned to a specific area or function of a business or organization. It may be a functional area such as human resources or legal, or process specific area such as billing or tube rolling. They work with the owners of the process to ensure that quality objectives and targets are set, plans are determined, progress is tracked, and education is provided. In the best Six Sigma organizations, process owners and Master Black Belts work very closely and share information daily. All the three belts are just members of a Six Sigma team. Actual definition and competencies for each belt can vary by organisation and training institutions. They all have one common objective: To dramatically improve business bottomlines through defect reduction.
17. 17. The highest-ranking belt among all the leaders is the Master Black Belt. After this come the black belt and the green belt leaders. The belt system is basically used to denote technical and organizational capability. The teams also have Champions and Sponsors who are generally from the top management. They drive various improvement projects. While six sigma programme implementation need not require any significant capital expenditure (other than for training), it does warrant a long-term vision, management commitment and commensurate attention and resources. It is also essential that investment is made in training designated staff in the appropriate methods, tools and techniques, and then enabling them to manage the programme and guide improvement projects. These people, particularly those now commonly referred to as master black belts, black belts and green belts, are the core of the six sigma programme. Companies might train and maintain ten black belts per 1000 employees, and one master black belt per 1000 employees. Crucially, because a six sigma programme in essence means overall excellence, implementation requires more than simply explaining what six sigma means and expecting everyone to begin doing it immediately. Companies implementing six sigma may: • adopt a systematic approach. • define and establish roles and responsibilities within design, manufacturing and throughout the organisation • identify methods and techniques for the defining of processes and customer requirements, and the identification of critical steps and key measures • introduce practices for benchmarking performance and processes for prioritising improvement opportunities • use a standard format to identify, reduce and control the sources of variation, allowing individuals or project teams to focus on reducing the standard deviation within the process, rather than obsessing over method. This also helps ensure the correct application of the powerful tools - such as statistical analysis, experimental design and project management - that speed up the execution of improvement activities One established framework for this is the 'six steps towards six sigma'. There are actually various versions of the six steps, which primarily change depending on the process being improved, but all are aimed at ensuring that improvement activities maintain the link between
18. 18. customer quality requirements, parts and processes. In general terms the steps are: • identify requirements of end product • determine the characteristics of the product components that are key to meeting the end product requirements (applicable techniques include: cause and effect diagrams, failure mode effects and criticality analysis (FMECA), quality function deployment (QFD), methodology/design of experiments) • determine for each key characteristic, the process step that effects or controls it • identify target value for each characteristic that minimises the impact of variation upon the end product, and determine maximum allowable range or tolerance of that characteristic. • identify actual or expected variation in each characteristic and determine capability of relevant process step for that characteristic • ensure that process steps are in statistical control and centred around the targets to be achieved Achieving six sigma is a challenge to any company and not all implementations succeed. Failure results from weak leadership, slack goal setting, poor project management, and inadequate resources and training. Moreover, establishing six sigma throughout an organisation is a long term programme - essentially it is an ongoing process of continuous improvement where even the most dedicated company sets goals of achieving six sigma within six to ten years. However, if properly introduced, companies should experience financial benefits shortly after they begin. A six sigma company substantially saves money by focusing on key customer critical issues and functioning on a higher level of efficiency. Reduced defects, scrap and re-work lead to immediate bottom-line benefits, and as production line waste drops off the company can make more efficient use of all resources. Improved design processes lead to better quality and more reliable products with reduced lead times, and better transactional processes reduce errors and increase productivity. As a result new customers begin purchasing from a company known for its high quality goods, and so revenues increase. To implement Six Sigma philosophy successfully, the following have to be taken care of: • Defect reduction resulting in cost reduction. • Projects should be tied in with business strategies.
19. 19. • Project progress should be monitored and reported. • Everyone should be involved with Six Sigma and speak the same language. • Infrastructure must be improved to measure and control the Six Sigma process. • Comfort level of the employees must be enhanced through preliminary training classes. • Total top management commitment and visibility of this commitment. • A well implemented customer management system. • A continuous education & training system. • A well-organized information & analysis system. • A well-implemented process management system. • A well-developed strategic planning system. • A well-developed supplier management system. • A well-developed competitive benchmarking system. • A well-developed human resource management system. • Equipping everyone in the organization, from top management to employees, with a working knowledge of the quality tools. • And last but not least, patience. Driving a business toward Six Sigma is not a one-time effort; it is about producing products and services that continue to meet customer and market requirements. This requires organizational agility and constant vigilance to changes in the marketplace. Thus, the real challenge with Six Sigma is getting to the point where one can meaningfully measure a business' current performance against dynamic customer requirements while developing the internal organizational abilities to response to changing marketplace conditions. Doing this well means aligning organizational components inside the company (leadership, strategy, people, and technology) to give Six Sigma efforts the momentum and staying power they need to succeed. Six Sigma for manufacturing and non-manufacturing processes
20. 20. Six Sigma is a quality improvement and business strategy. Emphasis is on reducing defects to less than 4 per million, reducing cycle time with aggressive goals such as 30-50% reduction per year, and reducing costs to dramatically impact the bottom line. The statistical and problem solving tools are similar to other modern day quality improvement strategies. However, Six Sigma stresses the application of these tools in a methodical and systematic fashion to gain knowledge that leads to breakthrough improvements with dramatic, measurable impact on the bottom line. The secret ingredient that really makes Six Sigma work is the infrastructure that is built within the organization. It is this infrastructure that motivates and produces a Six Sigma culture or "thought process" throughout the entire organization. The power of a Six Sigma approach is best described by proven return-on-investment (ROI). Bob Galvin, former President and CEO of Motorola, has stated that the lack of initial Six Sigma emphasis in the non-manufacturing areas was a mistake that cost Motorola at least \$5 Billion over a 4-year period. It is common these days to hear comments like, "Yes, Company X has a great product, but they sure are a pain to do business with!" Consequently, Jack Welch is mandating Six Sigma in all aspects of his business, most recently in sales and other transactional (non- manufacturing) processes. A process is a process, regardless of the type of organization or function. All processes have inputs and outputs. All processes have customers and suppliers, and all processes exhibit variation. Since the purpose of Six Sigma is to gain breakthrough knowledge on how to improve processes to do things Better, Faster, and at Lower Cost, it applies to everyone. Furthermore, since processes such as sales have historically relied less on scientific methods than engineering and manufacturing, the need for Six Sigma (i.e., a structured and systematic methodology) is even stronger. The method to implement Six Sigma for non-manufacturing processes is simple: the same way we implement it for engineering and manufacturing processes with only slight modifications. These modifications are typically confined to the type and depth of statistical tools that need to be included in the training. Obviously, the slant on applications must also be directed toward the non-manufacturing processes. A specific strategy for Six Sigma manufacturing and non- manufacturing processes would look similar to what is shown below:
21. 21. The executives must have a total commitment to the implementation of Six Sigma and accomplish the following: 1. Establish a Six Sigma Leadership Team. 2. Identify key business issues. 3. Assign Masters to each key business issue. 4. Assist the Masters and Leadership Team in identifying critical projects that are tied to the key business issues and in selecting Expert candidates. 5. Allocate time for change agents (Experts) to make breakthrough improvements. 6. Set aggressive Six Sigma goals. 7. Incorporate Six Sigma performance into the reward system. 8. Direct finance to validate all Six Sigma ROI. 9. Evaluate the corporate culture to determine if intellectual capital is being infused into the company. 10. Continuously evaluate the Six Sigma implementation and deployment process and make changes if necessary. Six Sigma in Service Industries To be successful Six Sigma must seek compatibility with the company’s: • values and beliefs • current ideas and philosophies • perceived needs
22. 22. Business leaders must evaluate where they stand in regard to commitment and support. Strategic initiatives must be aligned to support the transformation made possible by Six Sigma projects. Six Sigma should not be pigeonholed as a “manufacturing-centered” discipline. Its implementation in the service sector is rapidly accelerating. Here are some examples of how Six Sigma is being applied in the service arena. 1: City Transportation Department - developed a strategy for monitoring and reducing congestion at the airport pick-up/drop-off point. Results: A Statistical Process Control methodology identifies the magnitude and improvement opportunities during peak traffic periods. 2: Medical Center - developed a unique employee feedback survey. Results: Executives get a direct measure assessment of positive and negative change during last 12 months. Opportunities for improvement are prioritized through the ranking of lists for "gripes" and improvement suggestions. 3: Customer Service Department - created a strategy to reduce the warranty return rate after servicing products. Results: Control chart techniques monitor the proportion of returns over time, while Pareto charts monitor the types of failures. Efforts are directed by teams to improve processes that most likely affect the big hitter items. Six Sigma for Sales Forward-thinking companies know that getting the focus right is key. Their underlying sales strategy is to determine what few things will have the greatest leverage, and to focus scarce resources on these critical areas. One way to accomplish this is to close the gap between what customers value and what the company provides using the Six Sigma methodology. Six Sigma is a disciplined methodology that begins and ends with the Voice of the Customer (VOC). It has its roots
23. 23. in manufacturing but is proving equally effective in sales and marketing. Many companies which have reaped the benefits of applying Six Sigma to increase productivity and the bottom line are now using it to create top line growth by applying it in the areas of: • Client relationship management • Sales effectiveness • New market development • Pricing process improvement • Advertising/communication improvement • Branding effectiveness • Channel effectiveness • Lead management • Service improvement • Product development General Electric, entering the ninth year of its Six Sigma journey, began using Six Sigma to improve sales effectiveness in year five. Jack Welch said, "We found that Six Sigma isn't only for engineers. Regional sales managers can use it to improve forecast reliability, pricing strategies, or pricing variation." DuPont, in its fourth year of integrating Six Sigma, began using Six Sigma for top line growth in year two. "Six Sigma brought a new focus on the voice of the customer. Customer input is valuable in driving research development, product development, and applications," said Don Linsenmann, DuPont vice president and corporate champion-Six Sigma. Bombardier, now in its seventh year of implementing Six Sigma, initially focused its business improvement efforts on cash flow, cost reduction, cost improvement, cost avoidance and efficiency improvement. Today, many of their Six Sigma projects are focused on growth projects to increase sales volume and sales margins. With today's global marketplace, coatings companies face three competing demands - maximize margins, ensure product performance and comply with environmental regulations. To meet these demands, companies are seeking quality- and process-control systems that enable them to advance product quality and improve responsiveness to customer needs, while lowering costs. One such system is Six Sigma. In 1988, based largely on its work with the then-unique quality-control process, Motorola became one of the first companies to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Since then, awareness of Six Sigma and its benefits have grown steadily.
24. 24. Dow, in its 1998 annual report, candidly acknowledged the dramatic impact of Six Sigma, observing that: " is a high-impact, all- encompassing effort that will literally change the way we operate. Six Sigma will not only increase the bottom line by achieving greater efficiencies, but will grow the top line by accelerating the introduction of new products, and developing those products with the direct participation of our customers." Can Six Sigma guarantee results in administrative areas? The payoff in non-production areas is at least as great as in production areas, and often more so. Production areas are generally more advanced in the application of science to their work than administrative areas. Most administrative processes have not even been mapped or measured in the past. When Six Sigma methods are applied it is common to find enormous opportunities for improvement. For example, a purchasing team identified that over 95% of the time it took for processing a typical purchase order was non-value-added. Savings of this magnitude are rare in production areas. By the way, these comments also apply to service businesses. Six Sigma cannot “guarantee” savings. The Six Sigma approach is a proven success in hundreds of organizations in all types of industries, including services, but it is not a panacea. However, any one company’s experience might be less than expected due to a variety of conditions. These conditions include the organization’s culture, its customers, its leadership, unique market conditions, etc. Alternatives In past years, there have been many instances and evolutions of quality improvement programs. Scrutiny of the programs will show much similarity and also clear distinctions between such programs and Six Sigma. Similarities include common tools and methods, concepts of continuous improvement, and even analogous steps in the improvement framework. Differences have been articulated as follows:
25. 25. • Six Sigma speaks the language of business. It specifically addresses the concept of making the business as profitable as possible. • In Six Sigma, quality is not pursued independently from business goals. Time and resources are not spent improving something that is not a lever for improving customer satisfaction. • Six Sigma focuses on achieving tangible results. • Six Sigma does not include specific integration of ISO900 or Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award criteria. • Six Sigma uses an infrastructure of highly trained employees from many sectors of the company (not just the Quality Department). These employees are typically viewed as internal change agents. • Six Sigma raises the expectation from 3-sigma performance to 6-sigma. Yet, it does not promote "Zero Defects" which many people dismiss as "impossible." Complementary Technologies It is difficult to concisely describe the ways in which Six Sigma may be interwoven with other initiatives (or vice versa). There are some of the possible interrelationships between initiatives. Six Sigma and improvement approaches such as CMM (Capability Maturity Models), CMMISM , PSPSM (Personal Software Process) /TSPSM (Team Software Process) are complementary and mutually supportive. Depending on current organizational, project or individual circumstances, Six Sigma could be an enabler to launch CMM® , CMMISM , PSPSM , or TSPSM . Or, it could be a refinement toolkit/methodology within these initiatives. For instance, it might be used to select highest priority Process Areas within CMMISM or to select highest leverage metrics within PSPSM . Examination of the Goal-Question-Metric (GQM), Initiating-Diagnosing- Establishing-Acting-Leveraging (IDEALSM ), and Practical Software Measurement (PSM) paradigms, likewise, shows compatibility and consistency with Six Sigma. GQ(I)M meshes well with the Define- Measure steps of Six Sigma. IDEAL and Six Sigma share many common features, with IDEALSM being slightly more focused on change management and organizational issues and Six Sigma being more focused on tactical, data-driven analysis and decision making. Lean Sigma Lean Sigma also known as Lean Manufacturing and Lean Flow is about creating a series of value- added processes in plain view of the complete supply chain. Lean Manufacturing Flow is about the customer and creating an "Optimized Flow." Lean Flow is about challenging current business practices and processes to create a less error prone, faster, cheaper, leaner and less variable supply chain. Six Sigma complements the Lean Flow or Lean Sigma process.
26. 26. Lean focuses on reducing non-value added steps in a process, and Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation from the remaining value-added steps. Lean makes sure we are working on the right activities, and Six Sigma makes sure we are doing the right things right! By achieving the fastest rate of improvement in customer satisfaction, quality, process speed, and invested capital in both manufacturing and transactional processes. Lean Six Sigma combines the speed and agility of Lean with the statistical predictability of Six Sigma to create solutions for better business practices and dramatic bottom line results. Lean Flow is a natural complement to Six Sigma. The data gathered in lean flow implementation will help identify the highest impact Six Sigma opportunities, and every process improvement made with Six Sigma will make it easier and cheaper to achieve optimum flow. There are as many different approaches to Lean Manufacturing or Lean Flow manufacturing as there are consultants, and proponents of each style will eagerly tell that theirs is the only way. There are basic concepts and methods like Kanbans that apply to all processes, but each business is unique, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The simplest versions of lean involve little more than a quick look around followed by an immediate re-arrangement of the process – based mainly on gut feel. While this produces change very quickly, only occasionally does it generate long-lasting results. At the other extreme is a massive data collection and flow analysis effort that takes one to two years before one makes any actual change. This approach can
28. 28. improvement model and trains the use of tools to achieve tangible results. Expanding on traditional lean manufacturing and kaizen approaches, participants of the workshops not only know how to transition the enterprise to lean manufacturing by applying tools, they will also understand the fundamental principles of lean manufacturing at a technical level. This will lead to employees being able to design work management models with total product delivery cost minimization in mind – from the start. The deliverables WILL NOT BE REPORTS, THEY WILL BE RESULTS! Six Sigma Training and Six Sigma Quality Kit Six Sigma is essentially a comprehensive yet flexible system for achieving, supporting, and maximizing business profits. It is a methodology driven by understanding customer needs, and the disciplined use of data, facts, and statistical analysis to improve and reinvent organizational processes. The Six Sigma Training and Quality Toolkit is designed to help address all these issues and more. It contains a whole series of resources to help explain, simplify, and sets one on the right path to implementation of Six Sigma. Six Sigma Quality Management Kit: In this each item is of the highest quality made to cover a different aspect and issue. It includes presentations, questionnaires, fact sheets, guidelines-- a whole range of materials specifically put together to both introduce, and take one through, Six Sigma. Unless otherwise stated, each element is provided in MS-Word format for flexibility, control and ease of use. The kit includes the following: A Six Sigma Beginners Guide: This is a comprehensive introduction to, and overview of, Six Sigma. It explains the concepts, the statistical practicalities, the training regime, and much more. A Management Presentation: This PowerPoint presentation is designed to explain the key concepts and benefits to management/executives and provide guidance on how to avoid the common pitfalls.
29. 29. The Six Sigma Calculator: This simple to use but powerful Excel based calculator allows one to enter values into cells and see the equivalent Six Sigma result. The Six Sigma Fact Sheet: This is a most concise summary of the Six Sigma method and process and is a handy reference guide for everyday use. It includes explanations of: why it exists, the sigma objectives, the statistical basis (in easy to understand language), the certifications, and how to use it to improve. The Six Sigma Training Tutorial: This extensive document is nothing short of a full tutorial on the topic. Sections include: The History of Six Sigma; Six Sigma Costs and Savings; What is Six Sigma?; Critical to Quality—CTQ; Why is DMAIC Significant in Six Sigma?; Benefits of Implementing Six Sigma; Who Are the Six Sigma Practitioners?; Design for a Six Sigma Roadmap. A Requirements Template: One of the most important aspects in undertaking any major initiative is to understand what the requirements for the initiative are. This excellent template document is designed specifically to assist with this task. The Six Sigma 'Top Down' Notebook: This document is designed to explain how to approach Six Sigma within an organization. It offers guidelines for a top-down approach, presented in a colorful and pleasing manner. A Six Sigma Workshop Presentation: This is a full and detailed presentation, giving a detailed appreciation of Six Sigma for the practitioner. It includes both speaker notes and exercises. Six Sigma and ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library): Within IT, ITIL has emerged to define best practice through a detailed set of processes. As there is sometimes seen to be considerable theoretical commonality with Six Sigma, this substantial document is included for those specifically considering IT. As a bonus, an ITIL assessment kit is also included. This comprises a detailed Excel questionnaire and scoring mechanism.
30. 30. Six Sigma is a quality initiative that can transform an organization to a globally competitive one. With businesses striving to focus on the customer and achieve competitiveness through consistently reliable products and services, it should be no surprise that the issue of six sigma quality is now attracting increasing attention from manufacturers and service providers. In the past few years, major US corporations have made public the benefits attributed to their six sigma programmes. Allied Signals saved \$175 million in 1995, and nearly double that in 1996. In 1997, General Electric announced that it would save \$500 million that year because of six sigma and by 1998 the programme savings had risen to \$1.2 billion. The bottom line is that corporations moving toward six sigma levels of performance have saved billions of dollars, and boosted their stock values. However, while the dollar signs do help to highlight the potential of this quality approach, they do little to resolve the confusion that often surrounds all such 'quality movements' or explain how the benefits are achieved. Some adopters of Six Sigma 1: Wipro-- Initiatives-- One of the earliest Indian IT companies to adopt Six Sigma in India in 1996. Has put in substantial effort into it as no management review can start without the Six Sigma practice. Has covered almost 35 percent of its employees under the Six Sigma initiative. Has successfully undertaken around 2,000 projects on Six Sigma so far. It also has a Six Sigma consulting practice running. It has 15 Master Black Belts, 160 Black Belts and 800 Green Belts. As the pioneers of Six Sigma in India, Wipro has already put in around five years into process improvement through Six Sigma. Wipro's Six Sigma experience has peaked with the indigenous development of new methodologies that they take to their customers. As they continue
31. 31. their Six Sigma journey, they build on their expertise and experience - to bring continuous process improvement to your organization. Benefits-- Has become a lot more efficient, improved its overall productivity and reduced cycle time. Baseline productivity has improved. 2: Tata Consultancy Services-- Initiatives-- Started the Six Sigma initiative in 1999 due to its close relationship with GE, which was one of the early adopters and propagators of the Six Sigma practice in the world. TCS has spread the practice across the organisation worldwide. Even today GE reviews some of its projects. In 2003 GE and TCS started their own Six Sigma self-assessment certification. Has carried out about 300 projects using Six Sigma practice. It has 15 Master Black Belts, 190 Black Belts and 700 Green Belts. Benefits-- Has resulted in more business for the company, even from the existing customers. Has also resulted in the enhancement of the process capability baseline. 3: iGATE Global Solutions— Initiatives— Started the Six Sigma practice in early 2002. iGATE decided to go in for Six Sigma as GE is one of its major customers. It has executed around 150 projects using Six Sigma practice. The company has 3 Master Black Belts, 32 Black Belts and 85 Green Belts. Benefits-- Has helped it develop an analytical approach in problem solving and for fine-tuning delivery processes. 4: EXL Services (BPO)— Initiatives— Started the Six Sigma initiative in 2001 and spread it across the organisation. Its Process Excellence programme based on Six Sigma influences each stage of the client process, to offer quality service delivery geared towards the creation of an exceptional customer experience. It is a continuous programme, which has led to improved customer satisfaction, and long-term competitive advantage, focusing on cost, speed and accuracy. EXL has 2 Master Black Belts, 15 Black Belts and 30 Green Belts. Benefits-- Has made its quality management processes more robust. After adopting to Six Sigma the company has been successful in exceeding its client service agreements. It has also been able to demonstrate direct savings to its clients.
32. 32. 5: ICICI OneSource (BPO)— Initiatives— Launched the Six Sigma initiative in Jan 2003, has now spread it across processes in the organisation. Has 1 Master Black Belt. Benefits-- Has been able to influence its clients and has acted as a value accelerator to its services. 6: Citibank— Initiatives— Citibank, the international financial division of Citicorp, undertook six sigma in spring 1997 with the aim of reducing defects in its various divisions by ten times over the following three years. It started training senior management in April 1997, and so far has trained 2,000 people around the world. Benefits-- Five and ten-times defect reductions have already been realized with a decreased response time for credit card applications and fewer errors in customer statements 7: Microsoft India— Microsoft India launched Accelerator, a framework developed for Six Sigma, the highest possible degree of quality certification that can be attained by any company. Accelerator is an integrated set of products and services that leverages the company’s existing software products like Project and SQL servers, Visio, Office, Tarun Malik, product manager-business tools at Microsoft said. The product, customised for Six Sigma practitioners, combines Microsoft’s enterprise product management (EPM) and business process management (BPM) solutions thereby helping organisations to effectively manage Six Sigma projects, easily measure their financial impact, optimally utilise and track manpower resources. The Accelerator comprises three components namely Web Access (a communications tool), Portfolio Analyzer that determines productivity per employee and Portfolio Manager which details the changes required to attain Six Sigma levels. Accelerator is essentially an intelligence tool to help organisations improve return of investments (RoI), enhance functionality and competitiveness by reducing the time to market. Although even global companies are struggling to attain Six Sigma levels, Microsoft, through the Accelerator, plans to exploit Indian companies that are competing
33. 33. on a global platform. Such companies need to show the same level of quality initiatives to clients as their global counterparts. 8: General Electric— GE undertook the programme in late 1995, with 200 projects and massive training, then moved to 3,000 projects and further training the following year. In 1997, 6,000 projects were started. The \$200 million invested in 1996 returned nearly that much in quality-related savings. GE estimates the additional \$300 million invested in 1997 will deliver some \$400-500 million in savings, producing an additional \$ 100-200 million in incremental margins. The popularity of Six Sigma is growing. Companies such as Texas Instruments (1988), IBM (1990), Asea Brown Boveri (1993), Allied Signal/Kodak (1994), Whirlpool, PACCAR, Invensys, & Polaroid (1996/98), Ford, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Microsoft, American Express and many other companies worldwide have successfully implemented Six Sigma. Mumbai Dabawala’s The world renowned Forbes magazine has selected Mumbai dabawala’s as a colossal example of six sigma's success. Around 5000 Tiffinwallas deliver 175,000 lunches everyday. Lunch is in a tin container consisting of a number of bowls, each containing a separate dish, held together in a frame. The meals are prepared in the homes of the people who commute into Mumbai each morning and delivered in their own Tiffin carriers. After lunch, the process is reversed. And what a process - in it's complexity, the 5,000 tiffinwallahs make a mistake only about once every two months, according to Ragunath Medge, 42, president of the Mumbai Tiffinmen's Association. This means there is one Error on every 16 million transactions. This is thus a 6 Sigma performance (a term used in quality assurance if the percentage of correctness is 99.999999). Mumbai's "tiffinwallahs" have achieved a level of service to which Western businesses can only aspire. "Efficient organization" is not the first thought that comes to mind in India, but when the profit motive is given free rein, anything is possible.
34. 34. What Is IT's Role In Six Sigma? Six Sigma literally means reducing defects per million to 3.4 or 99.999966% good. There are two challenges implicit in Six Sigma. The first, obviously, is to achieve the 3.4 defects per million goal. A second, and equally important, challenge is maintaining Six Sigma once that defect goal is achieved. Information technology (IT) plays a crucial role in helping companies meet both challenges. Heavily driven by quantitative analysis and the assumption that all processes must, to be efficient, be repeatable - a lynch pin of Six Sigma is process control and consistency. And one can gain this consistency and create control through the integration of sophisticated, well-tailored IT solutions into key processes. Today, an organization's product development information is often scattered across many geographically separate R&D facilities, in paper-based systems such as notebooks and files, or in isolated stand-alone computer systems that are cumbersome or impossible to use effectively. Product development knowledge that is crucial to creating a controlled and consistent product development process is inaccessible, unknown and unleveraged by the company. Skilled R&D, marketing and manufacturing professionals, because they are isolated from each other and unable to access and share this valuable intellectual asset store - are forced to constantly reinvent the wheel each time they create a new formula or product. The result is an inconsistent and inefficient process prone to error. Thus there’s more to six sigma than statistics and hence implementing it into R&D environment requires analyzing the organization’s management structure and procedures and deciding if six sigma designs are really within the reach or needs. Six sigma has come to be known, just as much as a statistical quality measurement specification, as an enabling process for fully meeting a customer’s needs and expectations and the creation of a culture that supports breakthrough improvements. Management has no consistent visibility into the product development process, making it difficult to problem solve, do risk analyses and
35. 35. make quality, strategic decisions. Fresh, potentially profitable market opportunities go untapped - because new products and technologies are either not consistently developed - or may be late to market. The integrity of R&D and new product information are put at risk due to the need for manual entry of approved formula and product data. Through IT, companies can maximize the performance of product development resources and bring them in-line with Six Sigma. For example, at the beginning of a product development project, Marketing creates a "profile" for a new product that includes all the aesthetic and functional performance benefits the product must deliver. Those requirements can be linked to technical parameters and specifications stored in a centralized relational database. The database then links these parameters to formulas that have been previously developed and tested. Rather than spending hours, or in some cases days, searching through lab notebooks and paper files, lab personnel can instantaneously search all existing formulas for one that satisfies the marketing profile requirements. They are able to review all associated formula data and significantly advance the development process in a matter of minutes. A guidelines and restrictions database saves additional time and effort by enabling staff to ensure new formulas meet all regulatory requirements and internal corporate policies. All laboratory work adds value. The system also makes R&D and new product specification data available enterprise wide, and provides sophisticated workflow management tools that automate approval processes and notification of key staff. This speeds the approval of new formula variations and eliminates the need to re-conduct expensive testing programs - saving both time and money and accelerating speed-to-market. Approved formulas and product information are accurately communicated to the manufacturing or enterprise resource planning systems by a direct interface. Costly data entry errors are prevented and complete, accurate bills of material are easily generated. As a result, costly data entry errors that, in many cases may not be discovered until production is under way are prevented. Most importantly, an IT-driven product development system creates, and puts in place, the crucial infrastructure needed to effectively manage, in a controllable, consistent and repeatable manner, the complex processes associated with product development - enabling it to be successfully integrated into the greater corporate Six Sigma effort. At the heart of this integration is a stage-gate process that companies use to monitor the product development process and make go-no-go decisions about the development of specific new product. The goal is to ensure the efficiency of the product development process at its genesis, by green lighting the bring-to-market