Six Sigma is much more than just a way of thinking about process improvement and the DMAIC framework. There are a large number of tools which can help you on your projects, to get the analysis and improvements that your company needs.
These are a series of tasks to follow to make up a whole project:
- DMAIC – the main process improvement framework
- Design for Six Sigma (DFSS or DMADV) – a version of DMAIC for if a complete process creation from scratch is needed (usually if no process currently exists)
Plan before action!
- Project Charter is the main output of the planning stage, and acts as somewhere between a business plan and a plan ‘contract’
- Gantt Charts show the timetable for your project in an easy-to-interpret manner
These are used to look at how the process operates now
- SIPOC / COPIS – process overview showing clearly the inputs and outputs, giving a quick summary
- Swimlane Diagrams – good for mapping linear (simple) processes between several departments
- Fishbone diagrams break down the current issue so that you can see exactly what needs focusing on.
- Value Stream Maps – all actions from start to finish in the process
- Check sheet – a very simple but powerful tool that can be used to collate issues and see which ones are most affecting the business in terms of generating defects
Useful for turning raw data into usable information and prioritizing issues.
- Histograms and Scatter diagrams are great ways to show your data graphically for easy analysis
- Pareto Analysis – statistically you can tackle most of a problem with a very small fraction of the time of what it would take to solve every last issue. Pareto Analysis helps you prioritize to get the most efficient solution.
- Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
- Brainstorming and Nominal Group Technique are two great methods for producing solutions to an issue
- Multivoting can be used to rank and prioritize the improvement methods you’ve found
- 5S / CANDO is a Lean framework for keeping a workplace efficient
- Poka Yoke makes it impossible for defects to be made (or at least go undetected) in future
If you don’t want to keep looking at Six Sigma lookup tables, you can change between DPMO (proportion of operations that end in error) and sigma level in excel:
I’m adding new tools all the time so if you want a specific one check back later or mention it in the comments.