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How does Six Sigma give you the winning edge?

What improvements will you make to your manufacturing processes to get ahead of your competitors and set the stage for economic advantage? Will you make strategic investments for research and development or is it customer satisfaction and quality that you are after? While you would want to implement all these processes, your ultimate goal would be to realize your potential and meet organizational goals. But with the economy in a lurch, organizations have to deal with rising costs and erratic customer requirements to provide the best possible solutions. This can be achieved by bringing about process improvements that will help limit resources so that there is no wastage. The idea of implementing a standard for process improvements is not new. Motorola was a pioneer, developing the Six Sigma set of standards way back in the 80’s. It was developed as an alternative to traditional quality measurement standards, which though effective, were not fool proof enough.  But with Six Sigma, Motorola saw great profit improvements, and many organizations replicated its success. Based on the DMAIC process, it involves defining the system, measuring the key aspects of the system, analysing the data involved, improving, and controlling processes. These processes are brought about by individuals, who in Six Sigma parlance are designated as Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts, and Yellow Belts. They use statistical quality control to evaluate the process capability and make suggestions for improvements. The idea behind using specially designated individuals, is to “professionalize” processes and achieve the highest possible quality in implementation. While it does have its detractors who argue about the negative effects of overreliance on statistical tools and lack of documentation, the fact is that it has survived and has been successfully implemented in large-scale organizations across sectors. That’s because, Six Sigma has evolved over time and morphed from being just a standard to a way of doing business. As Geoff Tennant mentions in his book, “Six Sigma is a vision; a philosophy; a symbol; a metric; a goal”, and perhaps that’s what contributes to its success.
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How does Six Sigma give you the winning edge?

518
How does Six Sigma give you the winning edge?

What improvements will you make to your manufacturing processes to get ahead of your competitors and set the stage for economic advantage? Will you make strategic investments for research and development or is it customer satisfaction and quality that you are after? While you would want to implement all these processes, your ultimate goal would be to realize your potential and meet organizational goals.

But with the economy in a lurch, organizations have to deal with rising costs and erratic customer requirements to provide the best possible solutions. This can be achieved by bringing about process improvements that will help limit resources so that there is no wastage.

The idea of implementing a standard for process improvements is not new. Motorola was a pioneer, developing the Six Sigma set of standards way back in the 80’s. It was developed as an alternative to traditional quality measurement standards, which though effective, were not fool proof enough.  But with Six Sigma, Motorola saw great profit improvements, and many organizations replicated its success.

Based on the DMAIC process, it involves defining the system, measuring the key aspects of the system, analysing the data involved, improving, and controlling processes.

These processes are brought about by individuals, who in Six Sigma parlance are designated as Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts, and Yellow Belts. They use statistical quality control to evaluate the process capability and make suggestions for improvements.

The idea behind using specially designated individuals, is to “professionalize” processes and achieve the highest possible quality in implementation.

While it does have its detractors who argue about the negative effects of overreliance on statistical tools and lack of documentation, the fact is that it has survived and has been successfully implemented in large-scale organizations across sectors.

That’s because, Six Sigma has evolved over time and morphed from being just a standard to a way of doing business. As Geoff Tennant mentions in his book, “Six Sigma is a vision; a philosophy; a symbol; a metric; a goal”, and perhaps that’s what contributes to its success.

Shweta

Shweta Iyer

Blog Author

A writer, traveller and culture enthusiast, Shweta has had the opportunity to live in six different countries and visit many more. She loves researching and understanding the Internet of things and its impact on life. When she is not writing blogs, she’s busy running behind her 6 year old with a bowl of veggies

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Essential Guide to Six Sigma Black Belt Certification

What is Six Sigma Black Belt?  Black Belts are skilled in analysing huge chunks of data, managing different projects and organising the team dynamics within the organisation, with respect to quality improvements in processes. So, in essence they act as change agents who are dedicated to problem solving and ensuring quality adherence within processes and the organization.  The title “Black Belt” has been inspired by martial arts and holds an integral meaning within the Six Sigma philosophy. The lean Six Sigma is a problem solving technique that encourages the user to adopt a no-waste approach to enhance the performance and customer satisfaction of the brand. The Six Sigma Black Belt developer measures, structures, and analyses the performance related issues of the system in accordance with the Six Sigma rule.  The basic purpose of this is to lead the project in a way that yields the best results. Black Belt Certification also trains candidates to understand, improve and improvise the concepts of variation, and deploy different roles to different teams in a method that is meticulous and process oriented.  The IASSC certified Six Sigma Black Belt Exam is a closed book proctored exam where candidates have to answer 150 questions in a span of 4 hours. The paper has a combination of objective questions, long answers and non-graded questions. With this certification, developers can improve their interpersonal skills, become better managers and apply for better and more prestigious positions in the firm as well.  Who can do Six Sigma Black Belt Course? Developers and industry professionals with enough work experience and industry knowledge can opt for the Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Also, note that only full-time positions are available in the Six Sigma framework. Some other aspects that are considered by recruiters are; Organisational skills and the ability to assign tasks to different departments  Ability to figure out quick and proactive measures to improve performance  Problem identification and solving skills  Understand team dynamics and take initiative for projects Work on extensive databases and find out patterns  Be up to date with the latest trends of the industry  Have the technical skills, understand common DFSS and DFX methods  The candidate must have the basic academic credentials and professional work experience of over 3 years. Other than that, you need the other standard skills like coding, technical knowledge, communication skills and analytical abilities.  How to get certified in Six Sigma Black Belt? For IASSC To get certified in the Six Sigma Black Belt, you have to first apply for and clear the IASSC exam which consists of 150 questions that you will have to complete in a span of 4 hours. These questions can contain a mix of objective questions, subjective questions and detailed answers. There are about 800 centres all over India where you can opt for giving your exams. All you have to do is contact the KnowledgeHut representative who will order a voucher for you. This is going to cost extra as the certification exam fee is not included in the course fee. For CSSC For the CSSC Six Sigma Black Belt certification exam, follow these steps: Visit the official website of CSSC through this link. Click on ‘Add to cart’. A pop-up will appear. Select ‘Checkout’.  Enter the required details. Make the payment to finish placing your order. For ASQ Go to the official website of Prometric. Click on Schedule Your Exam present under the Test Takers section. Search for Six Sigma Black Belt in the search bar. Once you find it, click on Read More. Under the Actions table, select the Schedule option. Select your Country on the next page. Read the Information Review. Click on Next. Agree to the Privacy Policy. Enter your details like the Eligibility ID. Next, select the Black Belt for the Appointments Selection. On the next page, select the date and time for your exam. Your exam will be scheduled. What are the roles & responsibilities of a Six Sigma Black Belt Certified Professional?  Every Black Belt Six Sigma professional would be proficient in dealing with huge amounts of statistical data along with excellent managerial skills and analytical knowledge. This makes the professional responsible for inter-department management, organising team dynamics and taking care of the internal setup of the company. Six Sigma certification prepares one to understand processes, reasons for failure and steps for mitigation of errors.  Six Sigma professionals are proficient in the Six Sigma philosophies, which enable them to establish better, more flexible and transparent communication channels between employees and hierarchies. They are also liable for gathering insights, sorting them and storing them in a systematic manner and then analyse it in a way that yields the best results.  The professionals also have to understand the different GAP analysis and SWOT analysis that help determine the strengths, weaknesses, threats and potential opportunities that would help the organization reach new heights.  The Six Sigma Black Belt certified candidates are responsible for the entire management, deployment of the resources and its follow-up within the organisation. This also prepares the professional to anticipate the possible risks and take the initiatives that would help them overcome these liabilities that covers the losses and enhances your profits.  What are the benefits to get Black Belt Certification? A Six Sigma degree and the Black Belt certification has far reaching career and personal benefits. This degree covers a smart mix of technical, theoretical and practical topics that would help you understand the happenings of the industry in a more detailed way, and how best you can tailor the Six Sigma to suit the needs of your organization and enhance your problem solving skills. Overall the Six Sigma helps you Improve your managerial and organisational skills  Develop better interpersonal relations with other people and departments  Boost the overall performance of the enterprise in a way that is beneficial to all the parties involved To develop a plan for holistic and sustainable growth of the sector and the company  Helps you gain better deeper insights into the market that gives you an edge over your peers  Formulate better business principles to ensure cost reduction and time saving techniques Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Exam Requirements There are no specific requirements or academic degrees that you would need to be eligible for the Six Sigma degree. However, recruiters do have a preference for professionals who have a technical background and are well versed with concepts like database management, programming languages, handling statistics and coding.  Candidates should know how to implement Six Sigma across the organization, be aware of quality benchmarks and factors that lead a project to success. Here are some of the other requirements that might be expected from the Six Sigma candidates that you should know about; Basic managerial skills and interpersonal skills Technical knowledge and industry experience Knowledge about the inter department workings Knowledge of tools for tracking project progress Team management Here are the specific requirements of the exam according to the accrediting body: IASSC There are no prerequisites. ASQ One completed project with signed affidavit or two completed projects with signed affidavits Three years of work experience in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. CSSC There are no prerequisites. Here is the exam format for Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Exam: ASQType of questionsNo of questionsDurationOpen/closedMCQ165 for computer 150 for paper based Four and a half hourFour hoursOpen book IASSCType of questionsNo of questionsDurationOpen/closedMCQ150Four hoursClosed bookCSSC  Type of questionsNo of questionsDurationOpen/closedMCQ150Non-timedOpen bookHow to apply for Six Sigma Black Belt exam?  The Six Sigma certification would be a great addition to your resume, opening new opportunities for candidates in a sector of their choice. The Black Belt degree makes you more eligible and capable of handling the internal affairs of the company, build strong teams and set in order processes that will help chart the path to success. It teaches you all about the ways in which you can gather the best of the resources and deploy them in a way that is productive for the organisation.  To get the black belt degree though you need to attempt and pass an exam that requires a fair bit of preparation to clear.   The certification exams are conducted by a number of reputed bodies, chief among them being the IASSC, CSSC and ASQ.  The IASSC Black Belt exam paper is divided into 150 questions that cover major sections of the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Body of Knowledge. Studying these topics and appearing for the exam ensures that you have through knowledge of tackling on-the-job situations.  Once you have signed up for the exam by following the relevant procedures and paying the fee, you can sit for the exam and give it your best shot.  While this is quite an arduous exam, proper preparation will ensure that you clear at the first attempt. Enrolling for a Lean Six Sigma training that is provided by an accredited body will ensure that you have all the right resources and guidance to clear the exam.    What is the average salary of a Six Sigma Black Belt certified professional? As more and more organizations are going Lean the need for certified Six Sigma Black belt professionals is on the rise. This demand has ensured a subsequent increase in the salary that Six Sigma professionals earn.  Also, as a black belt certified professional, you can take on the following roles: Trainer/Coach Manager Influencer Process/Product/Project Manager Business Analyst Quality Assurance While the average salary of a Six Sigma Black belt certified professional is $104,019 per year, this largely depends on your industry experience, technical expertise and the country you’re working in.  The average salary of a Director of Quality with a Six Sigma Black Belt is $116,169 per year. A Process Manager and a Senior Process Manager can earn an average of $81,013 and $97,997 per year.  *All the figures are from Indeed.com's salary estimation based on job advertisements and 512,851 employees. 
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Essential Guide to Six Sigma Black Belt Certificat...

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What is Six Sigma - An Essential Guide

Six Sigma is a methodology providing the organization with the tools for improving the quality of the business processes. It leads to a decrease in process variation and increase in performance helping in reducing defects and improving employee morale, profits, and quality of services or products. There have been different definitions proposed for Six Sigma with the following common threads:  Using teams that have been assigned well-defined projects and can directly impact the bottom line of the organization Training people of all levels in statistical thinking and providing extensive training in project management and advanced statistics to key people Emphasizing on the DMAIC approach for solving problems Creating a management environment supporting the initiatives as a business strategy Different Definitions of Six Sigma  Let’s discuss the different definitions of Six Sigma:  Philosophy Six Sigma defines all the work as processes that follow the DMAIC approach of defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling. For the processes, you require inputs (x) which will produce outputs (y). For controlling the outputs, you need to control the inputs. This can be expressed as y=f(x). Tools For implementing the six sigma approach, certain tools or quantitative and qualitative techniques are required for driving process improvement. These tools include process mapping, control charts, statistical process control (SPC), and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).  Although, no specific set of tools have been selected as the tools for six sigma. Methodology In this view of six sigma, there is recognition of the rigorous and underlying approach named as DMAIC. It involves defining the steps a practitioner must follow. This includes identification of the problem and implementing a long-lasting solution. There are other six sigma methodology but DMAIC is the most recognized and adopted. Metrics The quality performance according to six sigma is 3.4 defects per million products or services.  Lean and Six Sigma Lean approach is another methodology that focuses on starting up the process emphasizing on the business model over the business plan. It also includes encouraging the process of development and customer discovery and iterating for achieving the right market fit or product.  There is no significant difference between lean and six sigma. More often than not, the term ‘lean six sigma’ is used because, for process improvement, both approaches are used for attaining positive results. The focus of six sigma is to enhance process control and reduce process variation. Lean works on promoting work flow and standardization and driving out waste like non-value added procedures and processes. Lean six sigma is a data-driven philosophy that believes in preventing defects over detecting defects. It reduces waste, variation, and cycle time for driving bottom line results and customer satisfaction and promoting the use of work flow and standardization.  There are three main elements of lean six sigma which reinforce each other:  Process and Methodology - These are a series of phases organizing the problem-solving tools for ensuring that all the root causes are found a solution can be implemented. Tools and techniques - There is a comprehensive set of analytical techniques and tools that are used for identifying and solving problems. Mindset and culture - This is a way of thinking relying on processes and data for achieving continuous improvement and operational performance goals. To achieve quality improvement goals, there are a few principles. Let’s discuss what are these principles and how do they work: 1. Focusing on the customer If you are taking an approach to Six Sigma, it is important that you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. When you are working for making improvements on a single process, the scope will be limited with limited concentrations. But, when we work on six sigma, we don’t work with a single process. We use the principles of six sigma for driving the business forward.  The primary thing of what we want to achieve through six sigma is delivering the value and improving the value for the customer. You don’t have to optimize the production process for a product or a service that no one wants.   2. Understanding how work is done For making any improvements to the process, you must know how the process occurs. There are documentation for processes and workflows that you can use for business process management. You can use a technique named process mining where software is used for analyzing the work done by the team so that you can find how tasks are done.  Once you have documented the process, you must use some tools for checking that the work is done in the correct way. This is known as conformance checking. 3. Making a smooth flow of processes One of the main aspects of six sigma is making everything process driven. For achieving this you need to figure out what the problem is and understand it. Bottleneck is a common problem occurring within a process where a certain process is performing below the standard. There are tools that can be used for identifying and highlighting bottlenecks. 4. Reducing waste and concentrating on value If you want to prioritize value, then you need to eliminate everything that doesn’t add to the value. According to Rene T. Domingo, you can eliminate waste by following these 5 steps: Making it visible Being conscious of it Being accountable for it Measuring it Reducing or eliminating it  5. Removing variations by stopping defects To reduce defects, you need to optimize a process and run it right every time. For this, you need to standardize your processes. For cutting more defective output, you need to remove variation had let the process run every time at its best level.  Standardization is the key thing to focus on while manufacturing products and working with industrial and mechanical styled production systems.  6. Collaborating for getting the buy-in from the team While it is the job of analysts and managers to make decisions, employees that are involved in the process can have some important insights as well. Different team members involved in the process improvement project are titles like process owner, process champion, green belts, and black belts. For getting buy-in, involving the staff is essential, at least through consultation. 7. Making your efforts scientific and systematic There is a scientific quality to six sigma resonating in the data-driven world we are currently living in. Now that we have so much data on how things are operated, you have to find ways for leveraging that data for creating and maintaining improvements.  Success factors in implementing Six Sigma Once you have implemented the principles of six sigma, you must be aware of the factors determining the success of the methodology. Here are such factors: 1. Leadership responsibility The leader of a project plays an important role in making a project successful. They are responsible for prioritizing all the business activities and ensuring that the team has the resources to begin the production process.  2. Resource allocation A project manager is responsible for employing the right members of the team. It the employed members are six sigma certified members, they can be assigned with the task of monitoring the process of project development. Also, they will already be familiar with the techniques and methods of six sigma.  3. Training It is important that all the employees of the organization go through a proper training session to get all the required information regarding the project. Also, they must be familiar with the tools that will help in the successful completion of the project. 4. Project Approach The status of the project should be reviewed regularly by a senior management team, stakeholders through team meetings. All the members working on the project can share their suggestions and feedback in these meetings.  5. Reporting All the procedures involved in the six sigma must be documented correctly. This will help the organization know about the financial impact made by the implementation of six sigma methodologies.  
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Project Quality Management: The Key Indicator of Project Success

The PMBOK® defines quality as the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.  A project is said to be meeting its quality expectations when all the project requirements agreed at the inception of the project are met, and thus the resulting product or service is usable for the relevant stakeholders.  Quality is Subjective  Quality for one individual will not be adequate for another. For example, the youth will consider a mobile phone as being of high quality based on its look and feel, brand name and its specification such as camera quality, memory capacity, screen resolution, ability to connect with other devices etc. and based on the support to run applications on the phone. However, for someone in the age group of 60 and above, the ability to take a phone call or send an SMS and whether this can be done without much hassle alone may define the quality of the mobile phone.  To understand the quality requirements tailored to projects, it is necessary to have an exhaustive Quality Management training such as the Certified Manager of Quality Training. Quality has many faces The definition of quality depends on the context and the business domain. For a service-oriented organization such as a bank, a restaurant, an airline etc. quality of service is identified through the level of customer satisfaction. For a product such as a mobile phone, a vehicle, a computer etc. quality means conformance to product specifications and its fitness for use.  In the context of healthcare sector, mission-critical military activities etc. quality is measured through precision and accuracy. Precision refers to the granularity of measurement and how fine the outcome can be measured. Accuracy simply put is the correctness of the output or being close to the desired value.   Here are the four things #CIOs need to know about quality https://t.co/gRfqoTEUB7 #Qualitymanagement pic.twitter.com/KHMz5iC6RN — CIOReview (@cioreview) January 7, 2018 Quality is everybody’s responsibility  Quality in project management is two-fold. Project Quality and Product Quality. Project quality is to ensure that the project is executed in line with the triple constraints of time, cost, and scope. If the project is within the defined tolerance levels of these three dimensions, then we can say that the project is of high quality. Projects are carried out to develop a solution; i.e. product, service or a result. If this solution meets its specification or meets the needs of the stakeholders then it is said that the solution is of high quality.   Meeting the quality expectations is not merely the responsibility of the project manager, but of everyone involved in the project. Achieving quality involves cost where it is the responsibility of everyone involved in the project to manage the same. Increased efforts and costs can increase the quality of output but a ceiling on this investment has to be fixed. Yes, it is the responsibility of the project manager to manage this ceiling value and to ensure optimal levels of quality within the project but he or she can only do this with the support of his team members. The optimal level of quality can be achieved when the incremental cost of achieving quality is equal to the incremental revenue from such quality improvements.    What digital transformation means for the future of #qualitymanagement: https://t.co/0gyCaHsKtb — Sparta Systems (@SpartaSystems) January 17, 2018 Cost of Quality In order to achieve this, the project will have to incur some cost and this is known as Cost of Quality. This includes all costs incurred over the life of the product by investment in preventing non-conformance to requirements, appraising the product or service for conformance to requirements and failing to meet requirements or in other words rework. Thus, the cost of quality is of two main types- Cost of Conformance – This is the money spent during the project to avoid failures through prevention or appraisal. Prevention costs are costs incurred to prevent errors by the way of training, documentation, maintenance of equipment, quality control etc. Appraisal costs are incurred to assess the quality by the way of testing (quality assurance), inspections, etc. Cost of Non-Conformance – This involves the money spent during and after the project because of failures. Two main types of such costs are cost of internal failure and cost of external failures. Internal failure costs involve rework, scrap costs that are incurred before the solution is released. External failure costs are more critical where these are incurred to rectify damages of products failing once released to the customer. Such costs include liabilities, warranty, loss of business, damage to image etc.   Quality Management is an important aspect of Project Management. PMI® thus has given a central position to the same when defining the knowledge areas in the PMBOK™. It is thus important for project managers and team members alike to understand the importance of quality and to better manage projects to achieve all expectations pertaining to quality.  
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