Six Sigma Basics

What is Six Sigma?

Six SigmaSix Sigma was established in the mid 1980s as a means to improve manufacturing operations. These projects are designed to improve processes by identifying and removing the reason for the defects or errors.

The name Six Sigma, is derived from the theory that states, if you start at your mean and eliminate any defects within six standard deviations, you will theoretically eliminate all defects or errors.

Roles within the Company

Six Sigma is a complicated process with complex terminology. It is recommended to have a team within your company dedicated to perfecting your company’s Six Sigma strategies. Within every team there should be an Executive Leader. This is usually taken on by the CEO or any other top management position. Having someone in upper management in a leadership position will help others in the company understand the importance and help the program succeed.

There is a serious of certification courses which focus on methods, statistical tools and team skills. Once this series of courses are completed, usually within a month or so, the team member will emerge with a Black Belt in Six Sigma. It is required to have this certification to complete Six Sigma projects. Once a team member receives a Black Belt, they then have the ability to oversee projects and are responsible for the operation and outcome of those projects.

As a team member becomes more educated and experienced with Six Sigma, they can advance to Master Black Belt. The responsibility of selecting, training and mentoring new black belts into the Six Sigma program falls on them.

The Five Steps of Six Sigma


During the defining step, it is imperative to define different processes and teams within your business. Some of these include: defining your customer expectations, defining the business processes that need to be addressed and perfected, defining the project boundaries, create a map and timeline for the project and create a team for the project.


This is the initial measurement of your business. Here is where your team gathers data and measures the existing processes.


Once you have collected all the data, it’s time to analyze and determine course of action. Here’s where you identify gaps in your processes that have room for improvement. It is at this stage, you determine which course of action your team sees as the best to correct inefficiencies in company processes.


Once a course of action has been set, it’s time to test theories. Test each theory and then analyze it to determine the best solution for the current problem. Once all the tests are completed, and a best solution is proposed, strategize on an implementation plan.


This is where you develop procedures, create control plans, and then train the rest of your staff on the new implementation.

Many times a Six Sigma project may include a warehouse management system to streamline and automate your warehouse.

To learn if this type of system is best for you, contact MSA Systems today at 408-252-9000.

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