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What can Six Sigma do for your business?

What can Six Sigma do for your business?

Six Sigma was originally created as a quality control program for the manufacturing industry with the aim of reducing defects. It has since evolved into a more general business management approach, and while it’s mainly used by large companies, smaller companies can also benefit from implementing its principles.

Six Sigma focuses on specific areas of a business – for example, reducing costs or improving customer satisfaction.

One methodology used by the concept looks at:

  • Defining the end goal.
  • Measuring processes.
  • Analysing data for cause and effect.
  • Improving processes based on data analysis.
  • Controlling future processes to reduce defects.

Defining goals

As with any process, it's important to understand your end goal. Do you want to improve customer service, or do you want to make your business model leaner and improve profitability? Once you define your goal, it will be much easier to determine how to get there.

Measuring processes

If you run a café, for example, analysing your current processes could involve timing how long it takes to get a meal out of the kitchen or make a coffee. Once you have measured processes, you can then start working out how to save time. For example, would it help to pay an extra staff member so one person can make the coffee and the other froth milk to get it out quicker? Alternatively, could coffee defects be reduced by taking more time to prepare it, leading to a better-quality product and possibly a higher number of return customers?

Analysing data and improving processes

Six Sigma can help root out problems by analysing data, which allows you to fix them quicker. For tradespeople, analysing data could involve timing how long it takes to get to a job and how long you spend on site. This can help you determine what is taking up the most amount of time. If you were to do one thing differently, such as schedule hard jobs during non-peak hours, which means less travelling time, what impact would this have on labour costs?

Working out cause and effect is a great way to change business processes without overhauling your business model.

Reducing defects

Regular customers frequent your business because they expect a certain level of standard. Any deviation from that can result in dissatisfied customers. Knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable will help your business perform better by improving customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma can be a financial asset to your company by reducing costs and boosting profits. However, knowing how to use it doesn’t have to be a complicated process – simply take key aspects of the principle and apply them to your business.

Another methodology to come out of the manufacturing industry is lean manufacturing. Find out the benefits of implementing lean principles in your business. 

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