Programs for quality improvement such as statistical process control and total quality management have been used for years in operations management. These conventional approaches have changed to give birth to Six Sigma concept. Six Sigma is used by operations manager interested in advancing their performance in their organizations. They are effective for operations that need quality control and methodologies within their businesses (Bertels, 2003). The approach combines valuable Six Sigma approaches in a widespread program that assists participants in producing extraordinary output for the business organizations (Coryea, 2006). Through Six Sigma operation managers get an opportunity to advance their operational processes while gaining credentials and valuable skills that can be utilized immediately in their operations (Paul, 2009). This paper exposes Six Sigma concepts and how they help operations managers to achieve organizational success.
Six Sigma involves a set of values including attaining of improved quality operations through participation, and a continuous improvement approach by the organization seeking to attain high quality results (Coryea, 2006). Operations in projects are based on cost-benefits analysis In the Six Sigma approach to operations management, improved efforts are prioritized in order to get increased return on investment (Zinkgraf, 1999).
Implementing Six Sigma initiatives begins with the executive. Top management need to be committed fully to the initiative (Coryea, 2006). The executive is normally obligated to facilitate implementation of the identified operations management initiative in specific projects. Top management needs a clear understanding of the needed dedication in order to successfully implement Six Sigma in their business organization (Roland, 2001). Improving project operations comes from management of key organizational processes and advancing significant operational and performance metrics (Zinkgraf, 1999).
Six sigma approaches and tools are effective in advancing a business’s operational processes. Project management and Six Sigma are equivalent in a number of ways (Taylor, 2008). Both persistently seek new approaches of effectively managing teams and projects, both are present in a world of phases, and life cycles. Both need a highly skilled and competent project coordinators and facilitators that result in a project team toward the success of any project. For any significant metric to be advanced, the underlying techniques need to be improved. The five significant phases in implementing Six Sigma and advancing the organization’s operations include; Define and plan, measure, analyze, verify & validate, and then control the metrics (Keller, 2001).
In a Six Sigma, a project commences by defining and planning all parameters to see to it that the operations management aspect of the project is initially planned in the right manner (Charles, 2003). During the define and planning phase, operations managers create project timelines, embark on training programs for their teams on the phases, come up with a charter for the project, establish project implementation teams and gain appropriate support for the stakeholders and the top management (Roger, 2002). In this phase all crucial measures that are aligning to the strategies of the project and the organization need to be agreed upon. Such measures need to indicate a sustained progress for them to be successful in implementing the project (Roger, 2002).
Measuring stage comes after define and planning phase. A number of projects tend to skip this crucial phase, doing this can result in a long term ramifications. During the measure phase, project teams need to establish a strategy of gathering data and seeing to it that there is precision of the measurement process (Charles, 2003). Project data might be specifically required but unavailable, available but inaccurate, available but irrelevant, or even available but too small or too much for analysis. Charts are normally created during this phase to assist the project team members in understanding the project processes and any crucial matters to take note of (Barnard, 2005).
After collecting data and creating charts, members of the project team need to commence looking for guides on approaches of improving processes with the use of significant metrics (Jas, 2010). They then need to utilize the statistical approaches in stratifying the data and deciding the logical subsequent phases, constraints, identification of any arising issues, or bottlenecks, and concentrate on key drivers of measurement and evaluation (Charles, 2003).
Verification and validation phase comes prior to implementing and giving recommendations on creating changes to the final process. Without verification and validation, there is little practical approach of ensuring that a recommendation makes a sustainable and positive change, which in this case happens to be the ultimate objective of Six Sigma approach to operations and project management (Charles, 2003).
On verifying and validating the necessary recommended improvements to the project, control phase ought to be executed before handing over to the final project owners and other necessary stakeholders (Donald, 2004). During the control process, the business organization needs to train the project team members on interpretation and maintaining of various crucial metric charts. A reaction and audit project plan will be implemented at the control phase (Christopher, 2011). This will ensure that the advancements are upheld over the long term to help the organization avoid the challenge of continuously fixing the same challenge repeatedly.