Over the past 30 years, numerous businesses in various industries have implemented Six Sigma methodology, allowing them to deliver top-quality service and products while virtually eliminating internal inefficiencies and defects.

Although most businesses understand the concepts behind Six Sigma, implementing it requires not just a general understanding but a comprehensive strategy that outlines the necessary elements for a successful quality program. Without this plan in place, team members can be left scrambling to invent their own version of the program, which endangers its very purpose.

Here are a few fundamental tips to keep in mind when implementing a successful Six Sigma program.

team communicationCreate a Common Goal

Once an organization decides to implement a Six Sigma quality program, its very next order of business should be to get all team members on the same page. Team members should include employees close to production as well as administration and service providers. Through an executive directive, a common goal must be established for all employees in order to reduce variability, and goals and ideas of excellence should be defined and given to all team members.

Standardize the Methodology

In order for a Six Sigma project to be successful, it must define a standard approach. Otherwise, too many individuals on the team will spend countless hours redefining it again and again. Standardizing processes to achieve Six Sigma allows individuals to focus on reducing the standard deviation within their individual projects rather than obsessing over what method is to be used. Standardization creates a common approach, which means execution time of projects can be greatly reduced. It also creates a common language and cause, allowing for a true culture of teamwork.

Define Cp and Cpk

Achieving a high Cp and Cpk value means a team has been successful in reaching its Six Sigma goals, but first these goals must be established. Whatever goal is chosen, it should be directly tied to the organization’s quality goal which is established in the project charter.

For true Six Sigma success, the quality goal shouldn’t be vague like “zero defects,” which is simply not realistic. Instead, the organization should set a specific value or challenge ensuring the Cp and Cpk are stringent, but achievable.

Map the Plan

To keep the quality program focused and running on time, a plan should be mapped out, teams should be identified and processes scheduled. Organizations should be aware that process improvement programs can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete. During this period, it must invest its resources, time and money wisely.

During the planning stage, managers should consider hiring an outside consultant who will train and coach employees as the Six Sigma program is developed and then eventually oversee its implementation.

Set Times to Present the Ongoing Data

Throughout the program’s implementation, reviews and audits should be held to ensure progress is being made. Data should be presented and teams should describe their progress, milestones, roadblocks, needs and findings.

Create Methodologies for Optimizing Nontechnical Processes

Invisible processes, such as those found in the purchasing and finance departments, must also be defined, measured, quantified and optimized despite being non-physical or non-tangible in nature.

When properly implemented, Six Sigma reduces inefficiencies and can produce very high yields and returns. In order to be successful, organizations must plan accordingly, invest wisely and have long-term goals in place. Developing a cohesive and comprehensive strategy for implementing Six Sigma only increases the likelihood of a company achieving these business goals.