Is My Firm Big Enough for Six Sigma?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums Software/IT Is My Firm Big Enough for Six Sigma?

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    We are a $4 million per year software company with 35 employees running very lean at the current time and had our first quarter of profitability in 6-years since the company was sold in 2002.  Can we really afford to have full-time “Master Black Belts” and full-time “Black Belts” in a small company?  I am really afraid of the cost of implementing Six Sigma in our company.  Any thoughts out there?



    I guess it will be common sense if I say – a BB should be a good start. He will pay off his salary if he does real improvements
    Trouble is you need someone seriously good not just a show package.
    An idea: Ask the person if he is willing to work for a % of savings. If the savings are substantial he’ll benefit + it will ensure he works for real benefits. It may be difficult but it will be a win-win situation
    regards Rajesh



    Rajesh makes a good suggestion. The BB would likely pay for himself/herself plus you can get a variety of inexpensive Lean Six Sigma courseware and your BB could teach internal courses as justified. LSS no longer needs to be expensive.


    Don Strayer

    No firm is too small.  COPQ is much higher than many small companies realize and the benefits of quality improvement and management nearly always pay for themselves.  Quality is free, as Phillip Crosby noted.  That said, there are some caveats I use for small, and especially for very small businesses:
    – Small, rapid projects.  If you don’t have the manpower for dedicated project teams and if you don’t get rapid return on investment you’ll probably abandon the effort.
    – Focus on core, value added processes — i.e. processes that really matter to your customers.  You may realize savings when you improve internal operations and support functions but your customers won’t know or care.  You may be better off not doing these at all or paying someone else to do them.
    – Keep it simple.  There are well over 100 tools in the six sigma toolkit.  Some are highly statistical and/or complex.  Others are designed to elicit and exploit the group knowlege of teams.  You may not have the expertise or manpower for either.  When I work with very small businesses I rarely use much more than a Charter, Time Value Chart, Fishbone, and Control Plan.  You may not want to get this lean on your toolkit but I find that it works.
    – It’s part of the job, not a separate role.  You may not be able staff a six sigma group with full time black belts, or even a single full-time black belt.  Even if you can, that may not be the best idea since everyone else will tend to see that person as responsible.  And, let’s face it, when things get tough that position is likely among the first to go.  For six sigma to really work it needs to become part of the way everyone works.  That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be a six sigma expert, or even know that they are using six sigma techniques.

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