DevFactory Explains Six Sigma, Production Excellence
At its most simple, Six Sigma is the pursuit of perfection in the manufacturing process, notes the team at DevFactory, the world’s first software factory. The goal of Six Sigma is to remove any barriers to excellence and eliminate obstacles that can lead to defects in the creation of a product. The tools of Six Sigma reduce any variability in the process of manufacturing to lower the chance of errors or problems.
The term ‘Six Sigma’ refers to a process. Although it originated at Motorola in the early 1980s, Six Sigma really took off as a process under Jack Welch during his time at GE. The process is now used in a number of different industries.
According to the team at DevFactory, the term “Sigma” is used in statistics to measure the distance that a process is from being perfect. A Sigma rating refers to the number of products made by a process that are completely without blemish or defect. Detecting the defects in the manufacturing process gives a professional the ability to remove those defects, notes the DevFactory team, resulting in a finished product is that is as near to perfect as possible.
On the ratings scale, Six Sigma is the most ideal. A process that earns a Six Sigma rating can’t have more than 3.4 defects per million. As DevFactory points out, a rating of Six Sigma means that a particular process is nearly flawless.
Six Sigma at Motorola
The roots for concept of Six Sigma started to develop in the late 1970s. One of Motorola’s factories in the US was taken over by a firm from Japan. The firm made considerable changes to the operation of the factory, note the team at DevFactory. With the new management in place, the factory started to produce its primary product, televisions, with 1/20 of the number of defects compared to the televisions produced when Motorola was still running the factory.
The vast difference between the factory’s results before the new firm and after made Motorola wake up and see that their quality control was lacking. In 1981, a new CEO of the company issued a challenge to improve performance and quality 10 times over the next five years.
Mike Harry, considered by many to be a founding father of Six Sigma, joined the company in 1984. Harry partnered with Bill Smith, an engineer who was also a founding father of Six Sigma. According to DevFactory, the pair found that manufactured products had the best performance after getting into the hands of the customer if they had fewer issues or non-conformities during the manufacturing process. They worked to create ways to remove defects during the manufacturing process.
DevFactory Identifies Six Sigma Methodologies
Two methodologies are used in the Six Sigma system. The method used depends on the root of the issue. A process known as “Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control” (DMAIC) is used when an already-existing process needs to be adjusted or improved. “Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify” (DMADV) is used to develop new products or completely new processes.
DMAIC has five phases. In the first phase, “Define,” the issue, problem or goal is specifically outlined. The “Measure” phase involves the collection of data and performance, focusing on key areas in the current production process.
During the “Analyze” phase, Six Sigma professionals examine cause and effect relationships in the process and attempt to find the cause of any defects. In this phase, they determine when the current process can be improved or whether it needs to be changed completely. In the next phase, “Improve,” they attempt to fix issues by attacking the specific causes of the defects directly. In the final phase, “Control,” DevFactory states the Six Sigma professionals create systems that will prevent any deviations that lead to defects.
The other method, DMADV, is sometimes called Design for Six Sigma, or DFSS. The end goal of DFSS is slightly different than DMAIC, as a completely new process is created. The first three phases of the method, Define, Measure and Analyze, as similar. During the Design phase, the professionals create goals that work with the strategy of the company and the demands of the customer.
During the Measure phase, the professionals identify risks in the production process, characteristics that are critical to quality (CTQs), the capabilities of the product and the process capability. During the Analyze phase, they develop alternative plans. Following that, during the Design phase, they create the alternative based on the analysis that they just completed. The final phase in the process is the Verfiy phase, during which they review the design, create test runs and give the design to the owners of the process.
DevFactory On Six Sigma Roles In Employee Training
Six Sigma professionals all undergo extensive training to learn the system’s methods and how to implement them. The roles are all ranked in a hierarchal fashion, meaning that some professionals are ranked above others based on extensive training and experience. Similar to martial arts, the Six Sigma system uses belt colors to show how much training a person has and his or her rank.
White belts have a basic understanding of the Six Sigma practice but are usually not a part of the project team. Yellow belts are slightly above white belts. They have some training and are part of the project team. Green belts are the employees on a project who actually implement Six Sigma practices, notes the DevFactory team.
Green belts are supervised by black belts, who focus solely on Six Sigma and on statistics. Basic black belts and green belts might be trained and led by Master black belts, who also usually act as the consultant on a project. Master black belts ensure that Six Sigma is being applied in all areas.
At the executive level, there are two Six Sigma rankings, Champions and Executives. Champions put Six Sigma into place across a company, not just across a single project. They are typically employees in upper management positions. Executives are the CEOs and other top management employees at a company.
The software team at DevFactory recognizes the importance of implementing procedures that optimize production and development, and contribute to a flawless final product.
DevFactory takes an assembly line approach to the development and production of software. They use techniques such as Six Sigma to reduce defects and Just-in-Time to prevent waste. The company’s process is overseen by the Japanese philosophy of kaizen, which seeks to continually improve the process of manufacturing.