Table of Contents
Intro: To survive and to thrive in today’s fiercely competitive Business World, Quality is one of the most important and prioritized contributors. It enables a business to cut its own niche. Therefore, Quality Function Deployment (QFD) across all the verticals has become one of the primary responsibilities of a business. Commencing its journey quite a few decades ago, QFD has crossed quite a few layers. Total Quality Management (TQM) and Six Sigma are the flourishing towers. This article is a comprehensive walk through the entire gamut.
Quality Function Deployment is nothing but the ‘Voice of a Customer’ inscribing to the ‘Voice of a Designer’.
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Customer Centricity is essential for any organization’s survival, as well as success. Quality function deployment (QFD) is an essential tool to accomplish customer satisfaction aka customer delight. The term is also synonymous to Matrix Product Planning, Decision Matrices, and Customer Driven Engineering.
Quality: The Essential Ingredient
According to the renowned Quality Management Luminary Dr Joseph Juran, quality means fitness for use. Another legendary Quality Management Guru, Philip B. Crosby, advocates for conformation to requirements.
Dr Joseph Juran in his Quality Trilogy emphasizes on three cornerstones: Quality Planning, Quality Improvement, and Quality Control. The trilogy shows how an organization can improve in every aspect by a better understanding of the relationship amongst these three.
If we dive deep, Quality is a subjective term which has its own set of a definition based on the respective industry, sector, or function. But irrespective of the cases, in technical practice, quality of a product or service must fulfil two characteristics:
- Ability to meet up with the stated or implied needs
- Free from any deficiency
Quality Function Deployment: What is it in an actual sense?
If we break the term down, it consists of three words:
- Quality: It is all about meeting the customers’ demands
- Function: It is about focusing on what must be done
- Deployment: It is about who will do what and when
Quality Function Deployment is all about listening to the customers’ voice and translating their needs, wants, & expectations into appropriate technical requirements necessary for each stage of product development and/or production through a well-structured & well-established method or procedure.
QFD converts customer requirements into company requirements; and it manifests at every sphere of the organization starting from research & development to engineering & manufacturing, to marketing & sales, and distribution.
Therefore, if we summarize, it would boil down to:
- Understanding customer requirements
- An optimum combination of quality thinking, psychology, and knowledge
- Maximizing positive quality that adds value
- Comprehensive quality system for customer satisfaction
- A strategy to stay ahead of the game
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Origin of Quality Function Deployment:
Tracing back to history, it was the late 1960s then, and the place was Japan. Professor Yoji Akao and Professor Shigeru Mizuno were aiming to develop a quality assurance method which can translate customers’ needs into a product with a design-based implementation that comes before its manufacturing stage. It was the proper constructive origin of Quality Function Development.
Before that, certain quality control methods – for example, Ishikawa – were introduced, which primarily aimed at fixing a problem during or after manufacturing. But those were never any sort of preventions. By 1972, this approach had been well demonstrated at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe Shipyard. The first book on the subject was published in the Japanese language in 1978, which was later translated into English in 1994 (Mizuno and Akao, 1994).
What are the pre-requisites?
Data collection through Market research and listening to the VOC (Voice of Customers) are of paramount importance. In Quality Function Deployment, the aim is to establish a capability-building process to meet or exceed customer demands.
To carry out this effectively, the necessary pre-requisites are: understanding the market, knowing the customer segments, researching the customer demographics and psychographics thoroughly, knowing the competition and their offerings, to name a few.
It is very important to understand the needs, wants, and demands of customers – both spoken and unspoken – well to achieve a successful Quality Function Deployment. Otherwise, it is almost next to impossible to deliver quality products or services which can attract the target customers.
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Why Does A Business Need A Quality Function Deployment In Place?
Customers are the key concerns for any sort of business; keeping them satisfied is their primary aim. With this context, a proactive product or service design and development as per the customers demand works wonder compared to any sort of reactive treatment. Quality is a prime responsibility for any sort of organization, and also for everyone associated with that organization.
Quality Function Deployment is a team methodology which not only gives impetus to the employees with greater involvement and focus if we consider the intra-organizational perspective, it also helps the organization in determining most effective engineering and analytical applications such as Problem Solving, Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA), Statistical Process Control, etc.
At a broader organizational horizon, its implementation aims to satisfy three-fold purposes:
- Enabling the businesses not only to produce higher quality products but also to market them faster and at a lower cost.
- Achieving customer-driven product design.
- Establishment of a tracking system for future design with an ultimate aim to process improvement.
How Do We Derive Benefits through Quality Function Deployment?
- Customer needs are better understood
- Improved organization on developed projects
- Improved introduction to production
- Fewer changes/corrections throughout the process
- Fewer manufacturing start-up problems
- Improved documentation
- Enhanced reputation about quality
- Positive impact on brand value
- Enhanced revenue
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Quality Function Deployment: A Four Phased Process
The principles that QFD uses is extracted from the Concurrent Engineering in cross-functional teams and are involved in all phases of product development. From the initial planning stage to product control, each of the four phases uses a matrix to translate customer requirements into design, production, and every corner of the organizational processes (Becker Associates Inc., 2000).
Phase 1: Product Planning
In this phase, following items are being documented: requirements of the customers, warranty data, competitive opportunities, product measurements, competing product measures, and the technical ability of the organization. This phase is critical in terms of getting good data from customers which lays the foundation for the rest of the process. This phase is predominantly led by the marketing department and many organizations only get through this phase of a QFD process.
Phase 2: Product Design
Engineering Department leads this phase. Creativity and innovative idea are the key factorials here. The primary functionalities of this phase are product conceptualization and parts specification documentation. Initially, the parts are determined according to customer needs and then those are deployed into phase 3: process planning.
Phase 3: Process Planning
This phase is being taken care of by Manufacturing Engineering. Manufacturing processes are flowcharted in this phase. Along with it, process parameters / targeted values are also documented.
Phase 4: Process Control
This is the final phase. The performance indicators are created in this step to monitor the production process, maintenance schedule, and skill development for operators. Along with, process risk is also assessed. And accordingly, controls are applied in order to prevent failures. This phase is led by the Quality Assurance Department in conjunction with the Manufacturing Department.
QFD: The Unique Value Proposition
What Systemic Gears Are To Be Taken Care Of?
Quality function deployment encompasses all nooks and corners of an organization, facilitates the simultaneous product & process design, and finally integrates to other quality tools such as Taguchi methods etc. The organizational components included in the Quality Function Deployment are:
- Customer requirements
- Design requirements
- Component characteristics
- Operational requirements
- Working procedures
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A Spotlight Is Always On Customers:
Customer is the most important external stakeholder of an organization. An organization’s backbone gets stronger with appropriate value addition to its customers and with repeat sales. Hence, the assortment of customer requirements (both fresh and repeat) is the brick level foundation for laying a successful QFD. This entire continuum is composed of three distinct factorials:
- The Customer Chain
- What do we mean by Customer in QFD?
- Understanding Customer Requirements
Understanding the customer chain is of absolute necessity to derive a full picture of the customers. Today’s business world contains varied types of customer chain. Such chain starts with the company’s immediate customer and ends with the end-consumer passing through various intermediate stages. To elaborate this point further, this chain may be short or maybe elaborated and complex depending on the complexity of the business.
To elaborate the concept with an example,
A Manufacturing Business
§ The Product Owners / Dealers
§ The Product Users / Consumers
A Breakfast Cereal Producer Business
§ The Super Market
§ Parents / People who buy it
§ People / Children who eat it
An Aircraft Seat Producing Business
§ Aircraft Manufacturer
§ Aircraft Lease Company
For a company with complex customer chain, a system similar to Supply Chain Analysis to be used to identify the customer chain.
Moving ahead, other than external customers, a business has its internal customers too – more so for a multi-staged product or business. This is a very important consideration for QFD. To understand the pertinence of internal customers, let’s dissect the below example.
Assume that a Business House deals with fishing boats. It has got an order where customers (external) asked for an aluminium-based vessel. But the internal customer – the production team – doesn’t prefer to use aluminium because of some technical reasons. Therefore, they opted for a wooden vessel. However, this internal decision contradicts with the external customer’s demand; and as a consequence, their satisfaction quotient drops down. Were QFD in place, such situations would have been avoided through a properly designed process and protocol.
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How To Set Up A House of Quality?
Step 1: Customer Requirements – “Voice of the Customer”
In the first step of any QFD project, two factorials are to be determined:
- What market segments will be analyzed during the process
- Who the existing, as well as target customers, are
The team then accumulates information on customer requirements for their intended products or service. Usually, quality tools such as Affinity Diagrams or Tree Diagrams are used to organize and evaluate the data.
Step 2: Regulatory Requirements
Customers may not aware of the availability of all the products or services. Therefore, they may not be able to match their requirements with the available options always. Therefore, the team must document the requirements duly as dictated by Management or Regulatory Standards that the product must adhere to.
Step 3: Customer Importance Ratings
This is the step where customers rate their requirements on a scale of 1 to 5. At a later stage, in the relationship matrix, this number will further be used.
Step 4: Customer Rating of the Competition
For any business to acquire a tremendous competitive edge is to know how customers rate the competitors. It is also a good idea to understand how customers rate their products/services. This is a sort of remodelling which gives birth to additional rooms that identify sales opportunities, goals for continuous improvement, customer feedback, etc.
Step 5: Technical Descriptors: The Voice of the Engineer
These attributes of the products and services can be measured and benchmarked against the competition. Some technical descriptors do exist from before and those can be used to determine standardized product specification. However, defining and determining new descriptors provides the scope of meeting customized requirements.
Step 6: Direction of Improvements
Determination of technical descriptors must be made as to the direction of movement for each descriptor in terms of Whats and Hows. ‘What’ could be factored in through Usability, Performance, etc. And ‘How’ can be measured through Customer Importance, Customer Ratings, Technical Details, etc.
Step 7: Relationship Matrix
Here the team determines the relationship between customer needs and the company’s ability to meet those needs. The point of concern here is the strength of the relationship between technical descriptors and customer needs. This relationship can either be weak, moderate, or strong; and is expressed by three numeric values: 1, 3, and 9.
Step 8: Organizational Difficulty
The rate of design is attributed in terms of organizational difficulty. It is also very much possible that some attributes are in direct conflict.
Step 9: Technical Analysis of Competitor Products
This is about conducting a comparison of competitors’ technical descriptors to better understand the competition. This process involves the reverse engineering of the competitors’ products to determine specific values for competitor technical descriptors.
Step10: Target Values for Technical Descriptors
At this stage, target values are being established for each technical descriptors. These target values represent the “how much” aspect of technical descriptors, and can then act as a baseline to compare with.
Step11: Correlation Matrix
This is the step wherefrom the term ‘House of Quality’ has been derived; because it makes the matrix look like a rooftop of a house. However, this correlation matrix is probably the least use room in the ‘House of Quality’, though it is a big help to the designer engineers towards comprehensiveness. This phase determines how each of the technical descriptors impact each other. What needs to be documented is strong negative relations between technical descriptors to eliminating the physical contradictions.
Step 12: Absolute Importance
Finally, this is the stage where the technical descriptors are evaluated for their absolute importance. This calculation reveals which technical aspects of the products are of importance to the customers.
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Total Quality Management: An Approach
If we talk about Quality Function Deployment, Total Quality Management (TQM) is something which cannot be left untouched. It describes a management approach toward achieving long-term success through customer satisfaction. Such an endeavour encompasses efforts in improving the processes, products, services, and organizational work culture.
This concept has been originated in the 1950s and has gained its popularity in the early 1980s. Since then, it’s been steadily continuing.
Total quality describes the culture, attitude, and organization of a company towards the mission of customer delight. A quality culture demands quality in all spheres of the Company including operations. Bringing in quality in operations demands processes to be carried out right the first time by eradicating or minimizing the defects and wastes.
To implement the Total Quality Management (TQM) successfully, a Business must concentrate on following eight key elements:
The above eight elements can be categorized into four groups according to their function:
- Foundation Level: Ethics, integrity, and trust are the three pillars that act as the foundation upon which the entire TQM system can be laid down. It not only fosters openness, fairness, and sincerity, it also encourages and reinforces individual employee participation. These three elements, although contributes differently, always move in conjunction.
- Building Bricks: Being laid upon a strong foundation, TQM needs this stage to reach the roof of recognition. The three building blocks of this stage is Training, Teamwork, and Leadership. Training confers to the high productivity of employees through skill up-gradation and capability building. No business can scale up with individual effort and in isolation. Therefore managing teams to attain the business objectives with a proper symbiosis of employees’ fair share is a must-have for a Business. Mainly three types of teams exist in a TQM organization:
- Quality Improvement Teams or Excellence Teams (QITs): These teams are temporary in nature and usually formed to solve some specific problems.
- Problem Solving Teams (PSTs): These are also temporary teams, but are of shorter duration than QITs.
- Natural Work Teams (NWTs): Such teams are comprised of skilled workers or employees at varying levels. They use the concepts of self-management, employee involvement, and quality circles.
Leadership is the most important element in TQM. It is present at every sphere and in every level of an organization. Leadership in TQM requires inscribing an inspiring vision, instilling values, and making strategic directions constituted with apt decision making.
- Binding Mortar: This is the stage through which all other stages are glued together. And essentially, communication is its ingredient. The success of TQM demands establishing a successful communication chain across the organization piercing all the vertical and horizontal layers. This stage includes communication in all directions: upward, downward, and lateral.
- Roof: This stage includes the last and final element, Recognition. This satisfies the answer of WIIFM: what’s in it for me, which is the ultimate success element – both for the organization and the employees. Employee recognition contributed to their self-esteem, productivity, quality, and the amount of effort they impart to a task in-hand. Recognition comes in its best when it follows immediately after a performance or an action. Recognition comes in various ways, places, and times.
- Ways: It can come either in monetary form or in non-monetary form. The non-monetary form includes a personal letter from Top Management, awards, certificates, trophies, etc.
- Places: An appreciation is always preferred in public and the dressing-down in isolation. Therefore, the recognition of a good performer can happen in presence of top management, performance board, or in presence of department.
- Times: The best time to recognize is immediately after the successful completion of a task. The scheduling can be defined basis the Company practice and policy.
7 Principles of TQM:
Structuring A System of Leadership:
Structuring a well-thought-out leadership system across the organization enhances overall business management and productivity. A full commitment from the top level of the hierarchy is needed. A big picture vision needs to be broken down to task level and task level activities are needed to be conferred to the business objectives by cascading through layers.
Strategic Planning and Quality Control:
To make a strategic plan for constant improvement, having a laser-like focus and a strong perspective on quality in every sphere of the organization is needed. A desire to bring in perfection at workplace operations and an emphasis on consistency, stability, and steadiness enhance productivity. This drives productive processes for creating products and managing customer satisfaction.
Quality Control (QC) is also encompassed in strategic planning. QC caters to expedite the product delivery, company-wide compliance with procedure, waste elimination and reduction, and focusing on customer satisfaction.
Customer and Market Focus:
Customer satisfaction is the ultimate objective of any revenue-oriented business. And to achieve it, a thorough knowledge of industry and market segment is needed – both at global and at the national level. And then, it needs to be matched with customer demographics and psychographic.
Information and Analysis:
Data and information are of paramount importance for any business. Analyzing the available information not only eradicates the chances of a bad decision but also helps in future forecasting. Therefore importance to be given in measuring the business data and continuity across the organizational levels, and time should be kept aside for the same.
Human Resource Management:
For attaining the higher goal of business objectives, while companies are too focused on customer centricity, employee centricity is also gaining gradual prominence. Because all the employees are a Company’s internal customer as well as Brand Promoter. Because, in majority cases, it’s not the CXOs or Top Managements who deal with customers, but the employees down the lines do that. Therefore, if the employees are happy, satisfied, and motivated enough, they will do their best to attain customer delight.
Each employee has a different satisfaction quotient. It also varies across the generations. Some are happy with commercials and perks, while others seek growth. Identifying their satisfaction quotient, evaluating their potential, providing ample growth opportunity through capability building, managing their compensation and benefits are some of the areas amongst many that are of prime importance in this regard.
Functional Operation and Process Management:
This is all about a focus on manufacturing, functional operations, working systems, and devising adequate plans with granularity.
Streamlining Efficiency and Business Results:
To improve the customer service within the company, product performance and finance within the business, and customer service, a holistic improvement in every part of an existing business model is required. If needed, a new business model may also be incorporated either through replacement or in conjunction with the existing one.
The benefits that an organization may reap through streamlining the efficiency include improved organization, better feedback, better performance standards, increased customer growth, increased customer loyalty, brand recognition, improved products, and better offer for products & services.
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12 Steps to Implement a Total Quality Management System
Step 1: Clarify Vision, Mission, and Values
What employees do is tied up to the organizational strategy and objective. On the reverse side, Organizational strategies and objectives are broken down to employee actionable. Therefore, every employee in an organization must have a clear understanding of where the organization is headed (i.e. Vision of the Organization), what it hopes to accomplish (inscribed in Mission Statement), and its values & operational principles that set the priorities and facilitates decision making.
Step 2: Identify Critical Success Factors (CSFs)
Critical success factors are the performance-based measures to gauge how well the organization is performing. Some examples of CSF are Financial Performance, Customer Satisfaction, Process Improvement, Market Share, Employee Satisfaction, Market Metrics, etc. Each organization has to identify its own set of CSFs.
Step 3: Developing Measures and Metrics to Track CSF Data
Once the CSFs are identified, they are needed to be tracked regularly to monitor the progress. This can be done through the reporting process.
Step 4: Identify Key Customer Group
For an organization to exist, survive, and thrive, identifying their key customer group is of utmost priority. Because, basis this, they would be able to identify their customer requirements; and accordingly, they can formulate their products and services. A blatant mistake that many organizations do in this case is not acknowledging their employees as key customers. A few examples of Key Customer Groups are employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, volunteers, and other various external stakeholders.
Step 5: Solicit Customer Feedback
Getting feedback from the customers is the most pertinent way for an organization to understand how well their products/services are performing. Therefore, the business should create a structured framework to solicit feedback from customers to understand what’s important to them. Here, formulating the right questions and usage of proper tools is very important to reach the near most accuracy.
Step 6: Develop a Survey Tool
Formulating an appropriate and adequate Survey Tool is of a requirement to extract the most of the meanings, and that too rightfully, from the customer satisfaction survey or the market analysis coupled with customer priorities. If the customers care more about quality than the costs, and if the business continues to develop cost-effective products rather than the premium set of products, it’s obvious that won’t help the business to attain its objectives.
Step 7: Survey each customer group
For each customer group, a business needs to formulate a framework customized to that group. It will help to establish the baseline data on that set of customers’ perception about the product or service under scrutiny. This gives a starting point for further improvement.
Step 8: Developing the Further Improvement Plan
Based on the baseline so developed through the survey, the next doable is formulating the action plan for each customer group. Some of the smart goals that may be thought of to include are various process improvement initiatives, various leadership development initiatives (for example: Transform Your Employees to Transform Your Business), performance management, etc.
Step 9: Resurvey
Resurveying the key customers on an interim basis would give the business a gauge about how they are progressing, and also about whether they are on the track or off the track. Also, it will indicate if the customers’ needs and demands are changed. Thus, it will give a scope to the business to readjust their focus.
Step 10: Monitor CSF
CSFs should be and must be monitored periodically and consistently to ensure steady progress towards the pre-set goal. This allows the readjustment of doable and if needed, the course correction.
Step 11: Incorporate Satisfaction Data into Marketing Plans
The data so derived through the erstwhile phases is the input for a marketing plan that needs to be laid down for the onward journey. A lot of companies miss the boat just by not letting the other people know about what they do well and what their customers think they are great at. Customers feel confident about a company if they see the company is transparent, and if they know their internal processes – more so if those processes add value to the products or services that customers are seeking.
Step 12: Technology
With the advent of technological revolution, apt usage of technology gives the businesses a glittering touch of radical improvement. However, the challenge here is: the applications are short-lived. Any recent versions are getting obsolete in almost no time, and the next version is awaiting on the doorstep. Therefore, the organizations always need to be on their toes in terms of constant up-gradation. Although this incurs significant cost based on the scale and scope of the organization, the benefits they so derive overshoot all sorts of investments.
Tools That Being Used for Total Quality Management:
Pareto principle correlates few with most. It states most of the effects are caused by fewer causes. If we attempt to narrate it quantitatively, it comes down to 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the causes (machines, raw materials, operators, etc). Pareto charts reveal how to achieve maximum gain with minimum efforts or investments, along with where to put in the necessary efforts or investments.
A scatter plot is seemingly a line graph, but with no line drawn; only the points are plotted on the chart area. Y-axis represents the parameters we would like to predict. And X-axis represents the measuring period being considered. This graph defines the relationship between two variables. However the challenge here is: both the variables may independently relate to a third variable, and therefore the result so derived may represent something far from reality.
A control chart is a device of Statistical Process Control, which is meant for the production process control system. It enables the control of variation distribution, rather than focusing on to control each variation. This chart is used to calculate the upper and lower limit of control and tolerance for a process. The stability and trend of the process are represented by the plotted line. And the action can be taken based on the variation from the plotted line. This corresponds to a proactive approach, thus restricting the overcorrection and rejection.
Cause-and-Effect, Fishbone, Ishikawa Diagram:
The whole-sole purpose of such kind of diagram is to establish a relationship between cause and effect. Dispersion analysis, process classification, and cause enumeration are the three basic varieties of such diagram. While the ‘cause’ represents the contributing factors, the ‘effect’ enumerates the persisting or foreshadowing problem that to be solved, the opportunities to be grasped, or the results aiming for. The advantage of using this diagram is: it has the capability of handling a very complex problem. And in most of the cases, it follows time direction, but not the quantity.
Histogram or Bar-Graph:
With this chart, patterns that a set of data follows get revealed that are otherwise difficult to detect from a tabular representation. It is one of the most visible and easily comprehensible forms of representation. Readers can easily conclude it. The graph is represented with continuous variables. This can also be used for comparative purposes.
Check sheets offer the flexibility of interpreting the data from the form itself. However, it needs customization, which means forms are to be generated basis the data to be entered. It cannot be used for a standardized purpose. It solves the problem of repetitive data: be it qualitative, be it quantitative. And the most profitable part of its usage is: adaptable to different data gathering situations. It’s easy and quick to use, and minimum effort is needed from readers’ end to interpret.
This contains issue-specific or situation-specific items. Checklists are predominantly being used to ensure if all the steps are followed or all the prescribed actions are taken under a specific set of operational conditions. This device is not for collecting data; instead, it is used for check. It is simple, precise, and effective.
Flow Charts or Run Charts:
This stratification technique is used to see the pattern derived from the data collected from various sources. A flowchart is a pictorial representation of sequential steps of various processes ranging from start to end. Usually, manufacturing processes, service processes, administrative processes, or a project plan is described with this tool.
A run chart is for a quick, visual analysis of a problem. It is useful for monitoring the process data during a period and also for an easy-to-analyze display. Another important function it performs is to spot and interpret the runs and trends.
Six Sigma Concept:
Six sigma provides the organization with the necessary tools to improve their business process capability. It improves operational performance through the implementation of rigorous and systematic method leveraging various tools. It consists of direct and tangible application based implementation in all corners of manufacturing processes. It is also being used in service-related organizations to identify the bottlenecks and to improve performance.
The whole concept of Six Sigma boils down to three porticos:
- To make the processes predictable and stable, any sort of variation has to be reduced at the optimum extent.
- In any sort of manufacturing and service-based business, process variations are the products of characteristics or inputs. And these all can be measured, analyzed, controlled, and improved.
- The success of the six sigma approach, like any other, lies in sustaining the result achieved. And this needs a commitment across the organization, coupled with the support from top management.
How does it benefit the organization?
- Indicates the well-controlled process
- Process limits defined in control chart vary within the range of ±3s from the central line
- In a control chart, requirement/tolerance limit deflects within a range of ±6s from the central line
- Six Sigma emphasizes the DMAIC approach to problem-solving: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
- Creates a management environment to Support Business Strategy
- It imparts statistical thinking at all levels with the implementation of advanced statistics and project management
What philosophy does Six Sigma follow?
Six sigma works with the philosophy of considering all the work as processes which follow the DMAIC approach of problem-solving. It is usually expressed as y=f(x), where the output (i.e. ‘y’) is represented as a function of input (i.e. ‘x’).
What different tools are being used?
To drive process improvement, both qualitative and quantitative techniques/tools are being used here, such as Statistical Process Control (SPC), Control Charts, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and Process Mapping, to name a few.
The other set of tools that are in prominence are: variance analysis, linear modelling, ANOVA tests, correlations, regression analysis and fitting, scatter diagrams, boxplots, etc. Other extensively used methods include Cost-Benefit Analysis, Design of Experiment (DoE), Control Charts and Control Plans, Root Cause Analysis, The Why Why, Value Stream Mapping, Pareto Charts, etc.
However, six sigma professionals do not agree on exactly which set of tools to use for a constitution.
What’s the methodology?
Six Sigma rigorously and extensively uses the DMAIC approach, which results in long-lasting solutions. While DMAIC is not the only methodology being used, definitely it is the most widely adopted and recognized one.
How do you account the deflection?
Six sigma quality performance means 3.4 defects per million opportunities, which means a variation of ±3σ. And this accounts for a 1.5σ shift in the mean.
What is The Foundational Thought of Six Sigma?
The concept of six sigma carries a clear and concise aim: achieving optimal customer satisfaction through the delivery of near-perfect goods and services to attain Business Transformation.
Towards the achievement for the same, it follows a two-pronged approach:
What are the 5 Key Principles?
What makes six sigma special?
- Makes the processes measurable and quantifiable.
- Helps to easily assess the financial returns.
- With this approach, a quality improvement project can always be tracked and assessed against the associated costs and goals.
- Is strongly driven by management support and leadership.
- As it induces cultural transformation in every corner of the organization, it achieves higher sustainability compared to any other methods.
- It emphasizes the importance of data-based decision making by being backed up with statistical methods.
- It advocates data-based decision making, reduces the assumption-based possibility, and eliminates the subjectivity in the entire decision-making process
Phases of Six Sigma: The DMAIC Methodology
Each of the steps is supplemented by proven tools, thereby making the process repeatable and systematic. Please refer to the tools section to correlate.
Six Sigma Methodology:
Brain Storming: It is the most utilized process of any problem-solving method and the most foundational step. Creative ideas emerge through this process. A lead black belt or green belt holder usually facilitates and moderates the session.
Root Cause Analysis / The 5 Whys: This analytical technique is used to reach to the core issue and to gain clarity.
Voice of the Customer: This process is used to capture the customer feedback, to satisfy the customers with the best products or services.
The 5S System: This technique has been originated from the Japanese principle of workplace energies. The 5S system aims for waste removal and bottleneck elimination from inefficient tools, equipment, or resources in the workplace.
The five-stepped process is:
Kaizen: It is a powerful strategy for business improvement practising continuous monitoring, identifying, and executing improvements. It is particularly used in the manufacturing sector to ensure waste reduction and inefficiency elimination even to the smallest extent.
Benchmarking: Benchmarking employs a standard set of measurements to facilitate the comparison between actual and target.
Poka-Yoke (Mistake Proofing): Poka-Yoke is a Japanese term conferring to avoidance of errors. It prevents the chances of mistakes even before they occur. This technique is mostly used to spot and remove inefficiencies and human errors during the manufacturing process.
Value Stream Mapping: This is the method of future foreshadowing. It is about charting the current flow of materials and information to design a future project. This is mainly to induce leaner operations.
Six Sigma Levels:
- This is the simplest stage
- Any newcomer can join
- People work in teams on problem-solving projects
- Participants are required to understand the basic six sigma concepts
Here the participants:
- Take part as a project team member
- Review process improvements
- Gain an understanding of the various methodologies and the DMAIC
Six Sigma Green Belt Certification:
Here the employees need to fulfil the following criteria:
- Minimum of three years of full-time employment
- Understanding the problem-solving tools and methodologies
- Hands-on project
- Guidance for blackbelt projects in data collection and analysis
- Lead Green Belt projects or teams
Six Sigma Black Belt Certification:
This level requires the following criteria to be fulfilled:
- Minimum 3 years of fulltime employment
- Work experience in a core knowledge area
- Completion of minimum 2 six sigma projects and furnishing proof for that
- Expertise in multivariate metrics application to diverse the business change settings
- Leading the diverse teams in problem-solving projects
- Training and coaching the project teams
Six Sigma Master Black Belt Certification:
At this level, a candidate must:
- Have a black belt certification
- Either to have a minimum of 5 years of fulltime employment or evidence-based completion of 10 six sigma projects
- Carry a proven work portfolio that confirms the specific requirements
- Have coached and trained Green Belts and Black Belts
- Develop key metrics ad strategies
- Have a working experience as six sigma technologist at an organizational level and also as an internal business transformation advisor
Disclaimer for Six Sigma:
However, in today’s result-driven paradigm, we cannot overstate the importance of Six Sigma. It is well evident and well-proven that efficiency translates into cost. However, the benefits surpass the associated cost. While – on one hand – the processes are being made more effective through elimination/reduction of defects and improvement in yield, six sigma also improves Organizations’ financial bottom line with its well-proven principles and methods.
By far, Quality Function Deployment has proven its employability very strongly to meet up the customers’ needs and demands; and has gained wider acceptance in the global business world.
If we cast our eyes in future, the recent experiments and studies show its walk-in four major areas:
- The underlying design model of QFD
- The incorporation of necessary design methods
- Design practice / Approach to design within the QFD context
- QFD implementations to solve miscellaneous problems
Although the application of Quality Function Deployment is hugely manifested across the sectors, research publication work majorly concentrates on product or process development. Only a limited number of publications focus on the use of QFD in part planning, process planning, and production planning.
Further work on the underlying design model and integration of further design methods are necessary to enhance the capability and usefulness of Quality Function Deployment. Moreover, product-specific design process chain framework should be provided for ensuring the Concurrent Engineering Approach to Design.
Information Source Accreditation:
- American Society for Quality
- Institute of Manufacturing Education and Consultancy Services, University of Cambridge
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