The power of synergy!

Synergy – the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously- Mark Twain

Microsoft Corporation, the leading developer of personal computer software systems and applications is today a household name worldwide. The company also publishes books and multimedia titles, produces its own line of hybrid tablet computers, offers email services,  sells electronic game systems, computer peripherals,  and portable media players. 


With their offices throughout the world, research and development center at its corporate headquarters in Redmond Washington, the company also operates research labs in Cambridge, England, Beijing, China, Sadashivnagar, Bangalore, India, Santa Barbara, California  Cambridge, Massachusetts  New York, New York, and Montreal, Canada

Early History 

In 1975  Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen, two young college-going friends from Seattle, converted BASIC, a popular mainframe computer programming language, for use on an early personal computer (PC), the Altair. 

Shortly thereafter, they founded Microsoft, deriving the name from the two words e.g. microcomputer and software, and combining the first words named their company as MICROSOFT.

Truly a star was born by the name MICROSOFT that changed the history of the world.

For the next few years, they refined BASIC and developed other programming languages alongside.

 In 1980 IBM ( International MachinesCorporation) asked Microsoft to produce the essential software, or operating system for its first personal computer, the IBM PC. 

In a dramatic move, Microsoft purchased an operating system from another company, modified it, and renamed it MS-DOS  (Microsoft Disk Operating System). This was yet another turning point in the history of Microsoft. MS-DOS was released with the IBM PC in 1981 which set a trend thereafter and most manufacturers of personal computers licensed MS-DOS as their operating system. 

This generated vast revenues for Microsoft. 

By the early 1990s, it had sold more than 100 million copies of the program and defeated rival operating systems such as CP/M  and IBM OS/2. Microsoft further strengthened its position in operating systems with WINDOWS. The third version of WINDOWS, released in 1990, gained an immense following due to its speed in operating and ease of learning.

A revolution was created with more and more users worldwide used and propagated the Microsoft WINDOWS.

Microsoft started becoming a popular choice against Apple Computer’s Mac.

Simultaneously Microsoft also researched and developed other software e.g.  word -processing and spreadsheet programs which outsmarted old rivals Lotus and WordPerfect in the process.

The march of Microsoft was relentless and Microsoft dramatically expanded its electronic publishing division, which was already created in 1985 and was notable for the success of its multimedia encyclopedia ENCARTA.


What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a statistical term that measures how far a given process ( to develop and deliver the product/services) deviates from perfection in bringing the ultimate joy to the customer.

Six Sigma was originally developed by Motorola in 1986  by  Jack Welch who made it a central focus of his business strategy at General Electric in 1995.

Microsoft experience of Six Sigma is an outstanding case study. The secret behind the success of their Sharpe software and products/ services using Six sigma is exemplified by the fact that Microsoft is said to have become the poster child for Six Sigma implementation.

 What is the need for Six Sigma?

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. 

The goal is to deliver flawless products/services to the customer/end-user to give him ultimate joy while consuming and give him satisfaction. It also builds a loyal customer base and combats competition. 

Six Sigma also standardizes the production and logistics of the company which has its own benefits.

How does Six Sigma Work?

Six Sigma is defined or implemented by applying DMAIC in an organization.

DMAIC is an acronym for five interconnected phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

D stands for Define.(Define project boundaries ­ the stop and start of the process)

M stands for measure (Measure the performance of the Core Business Process involved.)

A stands for Analyse (Analyze the data collected and process map to determine root causes of defects and opportunities for improvement.)

I stands for Improvement (Identify gaps between current performance and goal performance)

C stands for Control.(Control the improvements to keep the process on the new course.)

What does DMADV  stand for in Six Sigma

DMADV is an abbreviation for;






How can it benefit an organization

Since it is a customer-driven concept to bring delight to the customer it improvises the processes involved in developing the product/services in an organization. Each process is micromanaged and the defects are eliminated during each process.

The ultimate result is evolving a quality-oriented product. The entire organization is affected by this quality culture and delivering quality becomes the common language at the organization.

Is Six Sigma successful

 Yes! Six Sigma is extremely successful. Most Fortune 500 companies implement this as the concept itself builds a strong brand image of the company. Consumers are sure of a quality product/services delivered to them. 

Not only that in the case of dissatisfaction the company owns the responsibility by either taking it back or refunding the money according to their policy. The return/refund policy is well defined and the customer is well educated on the policy.

How does Six Sigma work

The Six Sigma work on consciously applying the core principles e.g.

  • Always focus on the customer.
  • Understand how work really happens.
  • Make your processes flow smoothly.
  • Reduce waste and concentrate on value.
  • Stop defects through removing variation.
  • Get buy-in from the team through collaboration.
  • Make your efforts systematic and scientific.

Experience of Microsoft  with Six Sigma

Microsoft experience of Six Sigma is an outstanding case study. The secret behind the success of their Sharpe software and products/ services using Six sigma is exemplified by the fact that Microsoft is said to have become the poster child for Six Sigma implementation.

While the success of Microsoft arguably leveled off in the mid-90s due to competition with Apple, Microsoft made some dramatic changes. They refocused their strategy for the better, turning operations toward developing consumer and enterprise web-based software solutions.

The mid-90s also ushered the era of the Internet and it was a kind of huge paradigm shift for Information Technology. The marketplace not only offered huge potential for the IT products manufacturers, the challenge to manufacture quantity and quality IT products poised a greater challenge to them.

 Microsoft recognized both the potential and challenge and adopted it to increase efficiency.

Six Sigma was a natural choice for Microsoft to meet the demand challenges.

Microsoft adopted Lean Six Sigma  to enhance its capabilities by


Process Improvement 

Process Improvement at Microsoft was implemented by DMAIC for quality improvement and problem reduction for existing processes.

Waste Elimination

Waste elimination is important savings for an organization which ultimately builds the profit for an organization. Process owners are always looking for ways to prevent waste.  Waste is an action or a step in a process that does not add value for the customer virtually, but the elimination of waste adds profit for the organization that can be passed to the customer which can benefit the customer eventually. Lean Six Sigma solutions at Microsoft played a vital role to eliminate the waste.

There are eight major types of waste that were included at Microsoft to raise the efficiency 

  1. Defects – A defect occurs when a product or service falls short of the customer’s expectations.
  2. Overproduction – also incur losses by making more products than customers demand. It leads to squandered resources and unnecessary inventory carrying costs. Both of these factors cost money and reduce the profitability of the organization. The long-term cure for overproduction is to implement a pull system that changes production philosophy from made-to-stock to made-to-order. Microsoft tuned this with the needs of the customer and made an easier time with scheduling and forecasting to prevent large inventories.
  3. Waiting – Although this may seem harmless, it is expensive. Material and employees that sit idle incur losses and add no value which can be passed on to the customer.  This was implemented at Microsoft by eliminating bottlenecks in the production process and improving communications that helped reduce idle time.
  4. Non-Value Added Processing – Inspecting the product is an important step in the process when the product is made right the first time and subsequently repeated in the process and productions. This is eliminated by applying Lean Six Sigma. Yet another step towards minimizing losses and adding profit to the organization which can build net worth or may be utilized for the benefit of the customer. Microsoft implemented this by Using Value Stream Mapping to analyze processes to find how much value each step gives to give quality products/services to the customer. Evaluating the process and the production every step helped identify wasted effort.
  5. Transportation and logistics – play an important component in adding cost in making a product/service available to the customer. While in time every time deliverance of product/service enhances the satisfaction of a customer it builds great confidence in the psyche of the customer. Delivery of products with their range and ideal product mix makes lot profitable and easier for the dealer/distributor network and inventory control at retail outlets. Also in house production line and sequence saves costs which can add value to the profit or passing value to the customer. The Lean Six Sigma implementation has enabled these cost savings to Microsoft which has high production and service output.
  6. Inventory – Inventory build-up occupies space and consumes money. It also encourages other types of waste from overproduction, higher defects and non-value added processing. Eliminating work in progress by reducing gaps in the production process and improving forecasting methods Microsoft reduced the need for inventory at all levels.
  7. Motion – The production process flow completed with the minimum amount of motion possible helps save energy consumption. Using more motion than is needed is a waste of resources. Online assembly work minimizing motion also helps reduce the cost of production. Machines and work stations floor plans designed to minimize movement have helped ease working at Microsoft productions unit saving cost to add profit to the organization.
  8. Unused Employee Talent – Human relation development activities have greatly enhanced the work environment and foster Employees to generate new ideas and innovation. Microsoft has encouraged human relation development activities at all workplaces and created a remarkable congenial atmosphere to foster great innovati

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Customer Relations

Microsoft has greatly emphasized its customer relations in their success stories. The company walks the extra mile in not only bringing customer satisfaction but takes it to the next level of customer delight with exclamation mark AHA! by the customers.

Effective customer service management needs to reduce overall costs while increasing overall customer experience and value to the customer. To bring joy to the customers Microsoft has been using the use of lean six sigma as a model for customer service management decisions.

The lean customer service organization

A lean approach to customer service by Microsoft is envisaged by evaluating each process involved in customer care and identifying waste or inefficiencies that add costs to the organization. It eventually involves setting the goal of only 3.4 errors per million customer service opportunities.

This is achieved by eliminating slow or inefficient systems, unorganized resources, or lack of training or missing skills among customer service team members.

The Six Sigma approach to perfect customer service

Microsoft customer service is built on four major customer service core components. It denotes exceptional customer experience using Microsoft products/services.

1. Customer service tasks

This involves Customer service tasks performed on the day-to-day actions and processes that customer care representatives perform for customers each day over a phone or in personal interactions. They are performed with responsive, management, courteous tone, and giving options to the customers.

2. Customer service treatment

Customer service representatives are trained  to Reducing negativity and  encouraging the creation of positive emotions to ensure that the recipe for customer loyalty is mixed with each customer interaction,

3. Customer service metrics

Customer service metrics comprises of 

  • getting customer action and customer emotion right,
  • adding up to the desired outcome
  • increasing customer retention
  • increasing overall customer conversion

All in all, does it set a standard that is an advantage that can be used for future customer acquisitions. Getting perfect service metrics means measuring the effect of planning and executed action. 

4.  Customer service training

If the metrics show the desired results from the customer service strategy implemented at Microsoft, it will further ensure that the cycle is perpetuated and perfect training is evolved.

Perfect training will further ensure that existing team members refine their ability to execute the overall service strategy and that new customer service team members quickly gain the necessary vision and develop the abilities to be effective in their actions, emotions, and understand the metrics or deliverables that determine success.

How did Microsoft use Lean Six sigma?

Microsoft used Lean Six Sigma tools like value stream mapping to analyze customer demand and satisfy them This enabled Microsoft to develop their Windows CE OS platform which is compatible with networking noncomputer devices, televisions, and personal digital assistants, etc.

The CE OS platform also paved the way for future successes at Microsoft.

What is Microsoft/Six Sigma in the present days?

Microsoft has always been a reflexive and responsive organization, adapting to emerging technologies and new market opportunities, whether it is through process improvement, waste elimination, or customer relations

Throughout the late 2010s, Six Sigma has helped Microsoft to reorganize their leadership and management structure,  increasing sales for portable devices like smartphones and tablets and setting the benchmark for freshers’ understanding their roles and goals to bring value to their multitude buyers worldwide. 

What is Microsoft After Bill Gates?

In 2000 company cofounder Gates relinquished his role as CEO of Microsoft to Steve Ballmer, whom Gates had met briefly at Harvard University in the 1970s. He handed over the title of chief software architect in 2006 to Ray Ozzie, a chief developer of the computer networking package Lotus Notes in the 1990s. In 2008 Gates left the day-to-day running of the company to Ballmer, Ozzie, and other managers, though he remained as chairman of the board. Ozzie stepped down in 2010, and longtime Microsoft executive Satya Nadella replaced Ballmer as CEO in 2014.

Microsoft has a rich legacy of being a customer-oriented company. The trend set by Bill Gates will continue as the system will always dominate the culture exemplified by him.

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