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Process Improvement is the accepted methodology for improving businesses. The principal quality systems -- Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, ISO9000, QS9000 -- are all focused on process improvement. ISO9000 and QS9000 focus on the quality system. TQM and Six Sigma (in the broad sense) address the whole business. The greatest Value (return for invested effort) from any quality system is obtained when the processes being improved align with the strategic and financial plans for the business.

The Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology combines the team-based Process Improvement methodology of TQM with the process measurement strengths of Six Sigma. The customer requirements analysis of Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and the cost analysis and team brainstorming of Value Analysis (VA) are integrated into the Brecker Six Sigma Methodology to yield better results, faster.

Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology

The four-phase Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology ensures alignment of Six Sigma projects with strategic and financial plans.

Most Six Sigma programs train Black Belts to carry out improvement projects using the statistically-based Six Sigma Process Improvement methodology. Comprehensive programs also train Champions to oversee the Six Sigma effort and to assign projects to Black Belts. Some programs train Black Belts to facilitate team-based process improvement (an extension of TQM). The Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology trains Six Sigma Leaders to lead teams in applying QFD and Value Analysis methodologies in addition to Six Sigma process improvement and TQM team facilitation.

Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Process

Six Sigma Value Analysis Workshops (Phase 2) are used to identify, evaluate, and prioritize potential improvements. As shown by many TQM failures (high implementation and training costs with few significant results), the bottom-up projects of the traditional approach may not produce the desired financial results. Value Analysis techniques are used to quantify cost and productivity issues. Six Sigma techniques are used to quantify quality issues. Potential solutions are developed and prioritized. Six Sigma Leaders then lead multi-functional teams in implementing high priority projects (Phase 3).

Phase 1 takes the Six Sigma Improvement Process to the business level. General customer and business needs are identified. The value of product lines / services and business processes are evaluated. Specific product / services and processes to improve and business processes to re-engineer are selected. Six Sigma Value Analysis Workshops (Phase 2) and Re-engineering Workshops are used to determine potential solutions.

Product Line - Location Pilot

The complete improvement process above can be piloted at the product / service line or location (plant, HQ) level. Facilitated Six Sigma Value Analysis Workshops with teams including potential Six Sigma Leaders would identify and prioritize specific improvement projects. The potential Six Sigma Leaders would be coached in leading multi-functional teams addressing the high potential solutions. The Six Sigma Leaders and teams would apply the Six Sigma Process Improvement, QFD, Value Analysis, and productivity improvement methodologies in implementing product / service and process improvements (Phase 3).

Smaller businesses or smaller units of large corporations can continue to obtain the benefits of Six Sigma in this manner without the expense of large scale black belt training. Team leaders would gradually acquire the skills of Six Sigma Leaders. Low cost supplemental training would be used to train a limited number of Six Sigma Leaders as additional projects are undertaken.

When an organization decides to commit to a full-scale Six Sigma Improvement System, the system and training can be customized to fit the needs of the specific business. The general approach is the same, but the Six Sigma statistical tools, additional statistical tools, QFD and productivity methodologies, and team approach are adapted to business and personnel needs. Combining training with implementation of improvements leads to virtual self-funding -- there is no need for costly up-front training.

The full benefits of the Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology are obtained through the application of the Value methodology to the business. The contribution to Value-Added of all products / services and processes including business processes is determined and analyzed using Re-engineering techniques. Improvement areas are selected and objectives are set.

Six Sigma Leaders

Six Sigma Leaders training is combined with the implementation of coordinated Six Sigma improvement projects. Potential Six Sigma Leaders experience the general improvement methodology in the Six Sigma - Value Analysis Workshop (Phase 2). They are coached in applying Six Sigma, Value Analysis, QFD, and productivity techniques in Product / Process Re-Design Workshops (Phase 3). In addition, Leaders are trained in Six Sigma and other statistical techniques as they lead their assigned teams through the analysis and improvement of a specific product / service and processes. Training is customized to the needs of the particular business, process, and personnel.

Continuous Improvement

The quality journey is continuous -- never-ending. Over time, products / services change, customers change, processes change, people change, suppliers change. Quality may change suddenly or deteriorate slowly. Serious problems need to be addressed as soon as they become evident. ISO9000 and QS9000 (automotive) both require Corrective Action Systems to document and resolve serious quality problems. QS9000 (and now ISO9000-2000) requires a Continuous Improvement system to eliminate waste and to prevent small problems from becoming big problems.

Cost and productivity also need to be evaluated periodically. New materials, new suppliers, new processes, new scheduling techniques to accommodate volume and product mix changes, etc. may make cost and productivity improvements possible. Therefore, a Continuous Improvement (CI) system that not only resolves quality problems but also evaluates potential cost and productivity improvements is desired. Periodic Six Sigma Value Analysis workshops accomplish this quality, productivity, cost review.

ISO9000-2000

The Continuous Improvement (CI) requirements of QS9000 and ISO9000-2000 can be satisfied with a system incorporating Six Sigma - Value Analysis workshops and including techniques used in DFM and QFD workshops. For example, the monitoring of Critical to Quality variables (CTQs) -- determined in QFD / DFM workshops -- allows early detection of deteriorating process quality. Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is useful in identifying the sources of variation and reducing their effect.

The more definitive QS9000 system requirements can be incorporated into manufacturing CI systems.

  • Identification of special characteristics (CTQs)
  • Design and Process FMEAs
  • Measurement systems analysis
  • Control plans for CTQs
Service industries would usually focus more on QFD and CTQs and less on statistical control plans. The techniques incorporated into the CI system would be customized to fit the business.

The implementation of a CI system requires the training of personnel to lead the continuous improvement efforts. Leaders for Six Sigma - Value Analysis workshops would be trained in Value Analysis, TQM, and basic Six Sigma techniques. More in depth statistical application training can be acquired in Six Sigma Leaders training. The Brecker Six Sigma Improvement Methodology described above would more than satisfy the requirements for a CI system.


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Last updated 6/14/01