Critical Factors for Successful Six Sigma Implementation

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Critical Factors for successful Six Sigma Implementation
(Published in NCQM Journal April 2004) By Hemant Urdhwareshe, General Manager Product Engineering, Cummins India Limited. Six Sigma approach is one of the most widely discussed topics by business executives for the last few years. It all began when Motorola started talking about Six Sigma and then Jack Welch embraced it for GE when Six Sigma became a hot cake. While Six Sigma was somewhat suddenly known to many, its evolution is not as sudden as it appears. Like other improvement approaches, there are companies that were immensely benefited by deploying Six Sigma and there are others who were not very excited with their implementation. What factors make the difference? From my experience in Cummins, with suppliers and what I read in many articles, I intend to share the factors that I feel have significant impact on the success of Six Sigma.

Success factors at a glance


Management commitment: indicators time and Critical priority for Six Sigma, involvement in project selection and reviews, competent people and resources allocated Existence of basic system such as QS-9000, ISO TS Critical 16949, measurement of quality cost Implementation partner: Qualification competence, sufficient time allocation, and Major

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Number of black and green belts: Thumb rule is 1 BB Critical for 100 employees. It is important to have critical mass of black and green belts. This is about 30% of engineers/managers Project selection and scoping: Projects must be in Critical line with strategic goals of the company. Should not be too big ('boiling the ocean') or too small. Software used for analysis. Popular is Minitab. Other Major softwares is Statistica. Use of Excel is adequate for projects that are less intensive in use of advanced statistical tools Linkage of successful project leadership and team Critical support to recognition and reward system






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Accountability for sponsors/champions: Critical Organizational support, resources, people support, regular progress reviews Co-location of belts: facilitates good interaction Major between belts to learn from each other and help. Publishing success stories, special recognition of Critical 'best' Six Sigma project, Extra benefits to extraordinary achievers, visibility of Six Sigma

1. Commitment and involvement of top management: The first and perhaps the most important factor is commitment and involvement of the management in driving Six Sigma. While each management will claim that they are fully committed, there are some clear indicators whether the management means this. • How much time top management spends for steering committee to drive implementation, review projects selection and closures, extend help realizing the need. • Leading and or sponsoring Six Sigma projects. This is a very strong message to the organization that the management means Six Sigma. • Align Six Sigma projects to strategic goals/objectives of the company. This is important to get advantage in business by implementing Six Sigma. A formal way of driving Six Sigma is through steering committee of senior leadership team: A typical steering committee may look like shown in the figure below:


2. Existence of basic quality system: It is sometimes forgotten that a company must have done the basic groundwork by implementing quality system such as QS-9000 or ISO TS 16949 or at least ISO 9000. One can’t move to graduation without getting through the secondary school exam! Six Sigma methodology helps identification of cause and effects relationships between results (‘Y’s) and factors (‘X’s).Some of these relationships are already known through documented wisdom (quality assurance standards). It is expensive to reinvent these using Six Sigma! For example, a company obviously needs to have system for drawing and specification control, calibration of measuring and test equipment, training people,...
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