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According to the accepted story from numerous sources, Motorola engineer Bill Smith eventually answered the call to consistently manufacture quality products by working out the methodologies of Six Sigma in The system is influenced by, but different than, other management improvement strategies of the time, including Total Quality Management and Zero Defects. Deconstructing the manufacturing process down to its essential parts, Six Sigma defines and evaluates each step of a process, searching for ways to improve efficiencies in a business structure, improve the quality of the process and increase the bottom-line profit.

Toward that end, the methodology calls for the training of personnel in Six Sigma, including beginner Green Belts, Black Belts who often head up individual projects, and Master Black Belts who look for ways to apply Six Sigma across a business structure to make improvements. Does it work? De Feo and William Barnard. The letters stand for:.

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Time to read. Retail Price:. BookShout Price:. Quantity: Print books are available for purchase with a minimum order of 50 books. Readers Also Liked The literature includes many papers describing Six Sigma implementation in a variety of business types; however, very few of these papers report empirical research and include single case studies Hendry and Nonthaleerak, Examples of non-manufacturing contexts discussed in the literature include healthcare and financial services, as well as in non-production internal functions within a manufacturing organization Nonthaleerak and Hendry, The paper by Wyper and Harrison , discuss Six Sigma implementation in non-manufacturing context and highlights the difficulties specific to that context.

Does et al. This paper addressed various problems, typical of non-manufacturing and also identified difficulties in tools application. They conclude that Six Sigma can be applicable in non-manufacturing contexts with minor adaptations. Given that, the research is based in a single case study setting, there are limits on the degree to which the conclusions can be generalized Nonthaleerak and Hendry, McAdam and Lafferty conducted a survey in a single company on Six Sigma implementation issue from process and people perspective.

They found low success of Six Sigma in non-manufacturing areas. The literature on discussion about Six Sigma in service organizations also concentrate about issues in implementation due to inherent differences between manufacturing and service. The possible reason being the manufacturing roots of Six Sigma like other quality management initiatives. Antony a , Benedetto , and Sehwall and De Yong , argue for example that there are certain differences in Six Sigma implementation in services from manufacturing which acts as a barrier in Six Sigma implementation in service organizations.

Failed implementation initiatives, especially as extensive as Six Sigma implementation, result in financial losses and potential resistance towards change among the actors involved. It is therefore of importance that the implementation strategies used are well adapted, see, e. Biolos Hence, the literature has conflicting evidence regarding the applicability of Six Sigma to non-manufacturing settings and therefore there is a need to investigate further this issue Nonthaleerak and Hendry, The studies so far focused on Six Sigma implementation in non-manufacturing context at project level.

The studies are mostly single case studies and descriptive in nature. The survey based studies are either pilot survey or focused on a single organization. Thus, there are a number of key research gaps in the literature, which our research aims to address.

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There is insufficient empirical evidence to verify and further explain the Six Sigma CSFs identified in service organizations. The existing difficulties in Six Sigma implementation in service organizations are not well understood. There is a scope to contribute to Six Sigma implementation in service organizations by enhancing the knowledge about tools and techniques usage. Our research will focus on individual Six Sigma projects in service organizations to fill the identified research gaps. In , Walter A. Shewart from Bell Telephone Laboratories, proposed the concept of using statistical charts to control the variables of products manufactured at Western Electric.

This was the beginning of statistical quality control Small, Shewart kept on with his efforts and applied the fundamentals of statistical quality control to industry. This lead to the modern attention to the use of statistical tools for the manufacture of products and process, originated prior to and during World War II, when the United States of America geared up to a massive build-up of machinery and arms to successfully conclude the war Brady, The Western Electric manufacturing company is noteworthy during this time because it was the breeding ground for many quality leaders, not only Shewart but Joseph Juran, Edwards Deming and Kaoru Ishikawa all worked there at some time Dimock, Two prominent individuals were Deming and Juran.

Deming promoted the use of the plan-do-check-act PDCA cycle of continuous improvement. Later Juran introduced the concepts of project by project quality improvement. Any discussion on quality today will most likely cite at least one from the group of Deming, Juran, Crosby, Feigenbaum, and Ishikawa, if not all. They certainly represent the preponderance of information about quality.

Because Six Sigma was built on previous quality methodologies, a list of the pioneers of the quality and their contribution is included in Table 1. According to Shina before, January 15, , Six Sigma was solely a statistical term. Since then, the Six Sigma crusade, which began at Motorola, has spread to other companies which are continually striving for excellence. Six Sigma has a number of different meanings and interpretations Henderson and Evans, , pp Its origin comes from statistics where sigma represents the amount of variation about a process average.

Various other definitions include:. Six Sigma is a formal methodology for measuring, analysing, improving, and then controlling or locking-in processes. This statistical approach reduces the occurrence of defects from a three sigma level or 66 defects per million to a Six Sigma level or less than four defects per million Bolze, Six Sigma is a comprehensive, statistics-based methodology that aims to achieve nothing less than perfection in every single company process and product Paul, Six Sigma is a disciplined method of rigorous data gathering and robust statistical analysis to pinpoint sources of error and ways of eliminating them Harry and Schroeder, Six Sigma as an information-driven methodology for reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction, and improving processes, with a focus on financially measurable results As defined by Minitab in Goh, Pioneers of quality and their contribution to Six Sigma knowledge bank adapted from Wortman, The statistical focus of various Six Sigma definitions reflects its basic philosophy.

Six Sigma is an operating philosophy that can be shared beneficially by everyone, including customers, shareholders, employees, and suppliers. Fundamentally, it is also a customer-focused methodology that drives out waste, raises levels of quality, and improves the financial performance of organizations to breakthrough levels Chua, It is from this target that the name Six Sigma originated. Compared to a process that has greater variation, a process with less variation will be able to fit more standard deviations or sigmas between the process centre and its specification limits.

An increase in the number of sigmas between the specification limits means the acceptance of fewer defects. More sigmas imply a more consistent manufacturing or service delivery process Chua, The concept of Six Sigma was introduced at and popularized by Motorola in The concept behind SPC is simple enough but powerful, indeed. The breakthrough made by Shewart was the statistical definition and measurement of variation, where variation within three-sigma limits was deemed to be random and produced by common causes, and variation outside of the three-sigma limits was produced by special causes, indicating a process problem Shewart, The result is a dramatic tightening of acceptable defect rate target to 3.

The basic elements of Six Sigma are not new. SPC, failure mode effect analysis, gage repeatability and reproducibility studies, and other tools and techniques, have been in use for some time. Six Sigma offers a framework that unites these basic quality tools and techniques with high-level management support. There is much literature available on tools and techniques used in Six Sigma.

Tools are mostly referred to as having a clearly defined role but narrow in focus, whereas techniques have wider application and require specific skills, creativity, and training Antony, Some other literature provide classification scheme for tools and techniques used. Henderson and Evans discussed about tool sets in three groups; team tools, process tools, and statistical tools. As for Six Sigma tools and techniques specific to service organizations, Antony provides a grid as a guideline for services. The ASQ classification scheme and the tool matrix have almost similar categories.

The only difference being in the number of tools and techniques each category. In Nancy R. It is quite similar to the categorization suggested by ASQ, but differs, as it encompasses more tools. The literature on service design and development talks about various tools which are effective in describing and analysing service problems.

The tools are shown in Table 4. Much information is available about the DMAIC define, measure, analyze, improve, control methodology. DMAIC is used mostly for existing processes. This approach not only makes use of various tools and techniques, it also incorporates other concepts such as financial analysis and project schedule development. The DMAIC methodology is excellent when dealing with an existing process in which reaching a defined level of performance will result in the benefits expected. Table 5 provides the details about each phase taken from one of the literature. The emergence of Six Sigma since s has been phenomenal.

Initially, the major focus of the organizations was to improve from their existing three sigma limits to Six Sigma limit of product or service quality. The importance of innovation in products and services has changed the focus of organizations now more towards proactive approach rather than being reactive.

Most of the literatures though agree that DFSS is a proactive approach and focuses on design by doing things right the first time. According to GE corporate research and development, the importance of DFSS is in the prediction of design quality up front and driving quality measurement and predictability improvement during the early design phases Treichler et al, DFSS can also be explained as a data-driven methodology based on analytical tools which provide users with the ability to prevent and predict defects in the design of a product or service De Feo and Bar-El, The major focus of DFSS approach is to look for inventive ways to satisfy and exceed the customer requirements.

This can be achieved through optimization of product or service design function and then verifying that the product or service meets the requirements specified by the customer Antony and Coronado, Though DFSS involves designing processes to reach Six Sigma levels and is considered as an aggressive approach, but it still lacks a single methodology unlike Six Sigma Hoerl, The different methodologies used in DFSS are:. Benefits in DFSS are difficult to quantify and are obtained in long term in comparison to Six Sigma, where the benefits are expressed mainly in financial terms and obtained rather quickly www.

The projects improved through DMAIC methodology are constrained by the assumptions made during the development and design stages, whereas DFSS builds quality into the design by implementing preventive thinking and tools in the product development process Smith, DFSS includes innovation tools such as the theory of inventive problem solving, axiomatic design, and quality function deployment, which DMAIC does not. Detailed information about the methodologies can be found in Kwak and Anbari, ; Hendry and Nonthaleerak, ; El-Haik and Roy, ; Goel, et al.

Problem definition is the first stage, where customer requirements are incorporated. This stage is followed by the characterization stage. The model of the problem in the process or engineering domain is developed at this stage, which is basically the translation of the voice of customer and the customer usage conditions into an engineering system Ferryanto, After model development, optimal and robust solutions are found out.

At the last stage the solutions are verified for their usefulness to solve the real problem. CSFs are the essential ingredients required for success of Six Sigma projects in an organization Coronado and Antony, There have been many studies on CSFs. Later on Antony and Banuelas mentioned twelve success factors which include management involvement and commitment, linking Six Sigma to business strategy, etc.

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There are several other studies and all of them have at least one common CSF, i. The discussion on CSFs by Antony is the only one specific to service organizations. Some of the common CSFs are discussed below. Almost all the literature reviewed agrees that this factor is a must for successful Six Sigma implementation. Top management involvement helps to influence and restructure the business organization and the cultural change in attitudes of individual employees toward quality in a short implementation period Henderson and Evans, Another important feature of Six Sigma is the elaborate training and certification processes that result in Black Belts, Green Belts, etc Goh, Education and training help people understand the fundamentals of Six Sigma along with the application of tools and techniques to different phases of DMAIC.

Training is part of the communication process to make sure that manager and employees apply and implement the Six Sigma techniques effectively Kwak and Anbari, People facing cultural change and challenges due to the implementation of Six Sigma need to understand this requirement. Also needed are a clear communication plan and channels to motivate individuals to overcome resistance and to educate senior managers, employees, and customers on the benefits of Six Sigma Kwak and Anbari, Customer focus is one of the major requirements in implementing Six Sigma.

This is emphasized in terms of critical to quality characteristics. Six Sigma is highly much more sensitive to requirements for customer satisfaction Goh, This is an important factor from a service point of view. Often the difficulty is with identifying what to measure Sehwall and De Yong, Before starting any Six Sigma initiative it is better to have a clear idea and agreement on the performance metrics to be used. Representing the success of Six Sigma projects in terms of financial benefits and measurement performance has made their selection and completion an important aspect for the organizations Henderson and Evans, Financial benefits as a measure of achievement makes it easily understandable for the employees and helps them to relate to Six Sigma project outcome Goh, The amount of effort that a service organization puts into measuring its work processes is important.

Some organizations expend much time and effort in developing ways to measure the processes that ultimately impact customer satisfaction. Other organizations attempt this half-heartedly and measure only part of what is important to the customer. Like in hospitals the focus may be only on a particular laboratory or facility where the interaction with customer tends to be relatively greater.

Because Six Sigma programs rely on measurements from processes, organizations with robust measurement systems in place are more likely to be ready for a Six Sigma implementation Hensley and Dobie, The factors discussed above are equally applicable to services and manufacturing. Our literature review found that top management commitment, education and training, cultural change, and financial benefits are the most important CSFs.

Figure 2 summarizes the importance of the CSFs as seen by each of the articles that were reviewed. In case of CTQs, we focused on its definitions mentioned in the literature. CTQ is defined in different ways in the literature but mostly they agree that it is a quality characteristic of product or service which is required to be improved from customer point of view. In other words, CTQ is generated from critical customer requirements derived from voice of customer refer Figure 3.

CTQs are the key measurable indicators of a product or process whose performance standards or specification limits must be met in order to satisfy the customer. CTQs align improvement or design efforts with customer requirements. In a layman term, CTQs are what customers expect of a product or service. Six Sigma focuses on process improvement, and improving the service process is a major determinant of customer satisfaction. Although services are widely different, the analysis from various literatures Kwak and Anbari, ; Jones Jr.

They are discussed below. In the case of services where the customer is involved in the process itself, time is an important consideration. The following three types of time should be considered:. The two are in fact intertwined. Customers may at times be willing to pay more for a service that can be completed in a shorter time. The trade-off between cost and time is, thus, important for services. For services where there is high degree of customer contact, employee behavior may be an important consideration.

The growing importance of call center services shows the emergence of information needs. KPI is not well defined in the literature and there exist different interpretations of this term. Mostly the literature discuss about it as performance metrics, i. A few of the suggested definitions of KPI is provided below refer Table 6. KPIs show actual data of a particular outcome. The outcomes of Six Sigma projects are usually required to be expressed in financial terms.

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This leads to a direct measure of achievement which is easy to understand Goh, Other KPIs include expressions in terms of customer satisfaction and efficiency. Some of the common KPIs are discussed below. Cost can be reduced by eliminating waste, such as reducing errors or mistakes in a process or reducing the time taken to complete a task. Like in manufacturing, the time to deliver a service determines organizational performance. Examples may be the timely delivery of information or document as per customer requirement. This depends on two aspects; one is the technical aspect and another is functional aspect.

The technical aspect is the actual outcome of the service encounter. Functional aspect is the interaction between the service provider and customer i. This factor is difficult to measure as it varies from service to service. For example, for a call center service, customer satisfaction is measured by the receipt of timely information. For a hospital, the comfort and assurance that patient feels may be the all important criterion Sehwall and De Yong, This is another intangible measure of organizational performance.

Employee retention rate can be an excellent indicator of employee satisfaction. Financial benefits due to Six Sigma can provide employees with a means to visualize their contribution. This may increase employee morale and satisfaction Henderson and Evans, Statistical process control and Six Sigma refer to the reduction of variation through improved standards and consistency.

In the case of services, variation reduction may be in terms of, for example, the cycle time of processing statements, or the decision cycle of a process such as credit process in a bank or the inaccuracy of a billing process and incorrect laboratory test results such as in a hospital Sehwall and De Yong, ; Rucker, The impact of Six Sigma on the bottom line is huge Henderson and Evans, In comparison to success and failure as a measure, financial bottom lines are a better indicator of the impact of improvements as well as a vivid calibration of progress Goh, Although different terms may be used, scrap and rework exist in services just as they do in manufacturing.

Inconsistent and out-of-specification processes cost money to rework.

What is Six Sigma?

Such examples in services may include the need to re-contact a customer to verify an order, providing an incorrect service, providing a substandard service, or even over-servicing or providing more than what is required. Limited application can also be found in call centers, human resources such as DuPont de Nemours Bott et al.

The literature analysis also revealed that applications are limited mostly to service organizations in North America and Europe. Benefits-wise, these are mostly expressed in financial terms and not much is published about the benefits in process improvement terms. The literatures Brady and Allen, ; Inozu et al. The following section provides an overview of these factors. Table 7 presents the similarities and differences of these between manufacturing and services on the basis of observations from the literatures.

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The above table provides some important insights regarding Six Sigma implementation aspects in manufacturing and services. There are similar CSFs in manufacturing and services but their order of preference differs between two. This difference in order of preference can also be observed within the literature involving Six Sigma implementation in services. The paper by Antony b shows that linking Six Sigma to business strategy is the most important of success factors whereas some other literatures discuss that top management commitment is the most important one, followed by education and training Johnson and Swisher, ; Henderson and Evans, CTQs show similarities in terms of cycle time and cost.

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The reason for this difference can be because of more customer contact in services. KPIs for both manufacturing and services show much similarity and are not much discussed in literatures. The application of tools and techniques has similarities in usage of flowcharts, process map, histograms, Pareto analysis, etc. The use of statistical tools and techniques such as SPC and regression analysis is more prominent in manufacturing may be because of ease of data collection and continuity of the process.

The tools and techniques such as gauge repeatability and reproducibility is commonly used in manufacturing but not so in services, the reason is non-repeatable nature of service processes Does et al. First, although the industry has an increased interest in Six Sigma implementation and many companies have gained the profits and advantages from this disciplined approach, the literature is limited and the research impacts of Six Sigma implementation and factors contributing to its success remain unclear.

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Many articles on the impact analysis of operations performance do not mention the detailed improvements in the operating areas, but focus on the overall bottom line impact. Therefore, it is necessary to do a deeper and more detailed study in this area. Second, only a few articles were found that dealt with factors in the area of success factor analysis to Six Sigma implementation. Existing studies are not well integrated and current concepts in the field of Six Sigma are largely based on case studies, anecdotal evidences and are prescriptive in nature.

Consequently there is little consensus on which factors are critical to the success of the approach Nonthaleerak and Hendry, ; Brady, Most of the articles concentrated on few success factors and reported that top management commitment is the main factor to Six Sigma success Goh, ; Henderson and Evans, To fill this gap, Antony and Baneulas identified 10 typical CSFs from their review of literature.

Several others also provided sets of CSFs which have similarities or differences among them. It could be argued that this list of CSFs is comprehensive and that many of the issues are in common with those found for any implementation process, and are thus not specific to Six Sigma. However, all of the papers that identify these issues are descriptive in nature and there is a need to verify them through rigorous empirical research.

Finally, some authors have called for theoretic research Nonthaleerak and Hendry, ; Schroeder et al. Management research is mainly based on deductive theory testing and positivistic research methodologies Alvesson and Willmott, These methodologies incorporate a more scientific approach with the formulation of theories and the use of large data samples to observe their validity.

However, these approaches mostly fail to give deep insights and rich data in Six Sigma practice within service organizations. Schroeder et al. Antony et al. In this section we describe the three phase approach for this study. First phase involved literature review and exploratory case studies.

A small-scale questionnaire survey and 15 case studies were done in the second phase. The third phase included a large-scale questionnaire survey and further case studies. Questionnaire structure and design for each phase is also discussed. Then details about the measures are provided. Finally, we explain how we test the sample bias, which population is targeted, and how to proceed for the data collection.

This phase focused on providing the necessary breadth to produce an understanding of the implementation of Six Sigma in service organizations and from which reliable patterns and theories can be formed. Next phase of this research focused on the issues uncovered by the first. The phase is termed as macro study Leonard and McAdam, , and it provides an overview not only of Six Sigma implementation in services, but also a database of critical success factors CSFs , critical-to-quality CTQ characteristics, key performance indicators KPIs , and set of tools and techniques STTs.

The study included two services one is library and the other one is a call center. During this phase, interviews were conducted with a black belt, who was considered by the organization as most knowledgeable and responsible for Six Sigma implementation.

Strategic management applied to the Six-Sigma suitability appraisal for R&D in FMCG companies

The BB provided an essential insight and understanding of Six Sigma implementation in service organizations. The other methods of data collection in this phase involved documentation and archival records. Once the macro study is completed and insights are developed, preparation for next phase was done to focus on additional relevant questions that had arisen in phase one.

This next phase involved a small-scale questionnaire survey and simultaneous case studies. The study included multiple respondents which overcame the problem of using single respondent in phase one.

What is Six Sigma?

It also provided a degree of validation. At this phase a questionnaire survey of Singapore service organizations was conducted to understand the status of Six Sigma implementation. The survey was exploratory in nature as the objective was to gain insights about Six Sigma in service organizations. This kind of survey helps to uncover or provide preliminary evidence of association among concepts. Further, it can help to explore the valid boundary of a theory Forza, There are five parts in the questionnaire.

The first part of the questionnaire is intended to get some general information of the respondent company, which includes the type of service organization, the size of the company, the type of company local, multinational, or joint venture , whether they have quality department, there is a proper quality system in place, any business process improvement initiatives they are doing, and finally whether they have implemented Six Sigma.