Successfully implementing Six Sigma depends on numerous factors that are not necessarily related to the work itself, such as the company’s culture and the commitment of upper management and project leaders. It also takes a commitment of time and resources, both human and financial.

A deficiency in any of these areas can ultimately lead to deployment failure. But, having all of the right components in place can lead to Six Sigma project success and the overall success of the company implementing it.

If you’re curious as to whether Six Sigma can help solve your organization’s current problems and project failures, here are some questions you should ask before implementing the strategy on your next project.

Are You Ready for the Commitment and Sacrifice?

Implementing Six Sigma does not guarantee success. Like any other quality strategy, it is only as good as the people and resources behind it. Six Sigma works because it gets to the root of a problem, but in order to get down to that level, an organization must align their management teams, human resources, communications and all other invested employees. This requires a genuine commitment on everyone’s part – not just from executives and stakeholders.

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A Six Sigma Black Belt who has been properly trained will understand how all of the tools of Six Sigma work together for effective project resolution. Companies of any size can benefit greatly from Six Sigma strategies, and the ones who decide the outcome is worth the commitment and sacrifice can be highly successful.

Why Will Six Sigma Projects Be Different?

Within many organizations, a string of quality-improvement programs has been implemented only to warrant short-lived and lukewarm results. When this happens, many executives will reach for the next potential tool, and sometimes that tool is Six Sigma. The problem with this mindset is that if Six Sigma is grouped together with their previous quality-improvement ‘duds,’ real success will be an uphill battle.

It is vital to instill the mentality that Six Sigma is the methodology that is going to make the difference and show long-lasting, positive results in your process-improvement initiatives. One of the things that sets Six Sigma apart from other quality programs is that it includes a control phase, which keeps process improvements moving forward. Also, Six Sigma projects are directly linked to business metrics and to the bottom line, so progress can be measured almost immediately.

Once you’ve answered the questions above and decided to implement a Six Sigma project, where is the best place to begin?

Can You Attain Buy-in From Upper Management?

Most projects start by “talking to management” and getting them onboard. With Six Sigma, this is not just a cliché but a mandatory first step. Again, Six Sigma implementation takes a lot of energy, time, commitment and resources, and those on top need to lead the charge – and fund the project.

You’ll need to build a project charter and supporting infrastructure of guidelines and policies that outline everything from how to value Six Sigma, to the selection of your project Black Belts. A baseline assessment should be completed in every process and measures should be put in place to keep customers’ needs the priority. These support systems must be in place before training can begin, and once it does, it’s important to always keep the focus on the results you want the training to achieve.

Are You Prepared for the Cost?

Six Sigma projects require the allocation of finances, and companies adopting the strategies need to be prepared for these costs and consider them an investment with a potentially incredible ROI. Know that much of your budget will go to expenses like training, consultation, and facilitation, as well as things like travel expenses, software and laptop computers. The salary of the Black Belt and other potential Six Sigma professionals must also be considered.

There’s no doubt that Six Sigma implementation comes with its expenses, any good quality program does. If your organization is interested in giving Six Sigma a try, you’ll want to realistically analyze your budget and resources to identify your initial investment.

Six Sigma is a big step that can offer even bigger results, but only you and your company can determine if it’s a step worth adopting. If you decide to implement Six Sigma, remember that planning is key, as is commitment and passion for positive change.

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