RFP for starting six sigma in our organization

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    Keith Burgh

    My organization has decided to implement Six Sigma and I am on the team to develop an RFP for services.  These services include training, consulting for start-up and tools or applications for use.  I would welcome some examples or directions on how to create an RFP for Six Sigma and then some advice on how to choose the best consutling organization to meet our needs.  Any roadblocks, or areas we need to be aware of, or any adivce to help us find the best consulting organizations to work with.



    Develop a ranked list of criterion for evaluating consultants.  You can use two sources of information for this – a QFD that captures internal requirements and benchmarking which captures experience of others.
    Weight each of the factors
    Determine how the different vendors stackup to your requirements.
    At my organization, some factors that were considered were

    Access to six sigma expert outside of class without being prohibitively expensive.
    Evaluating the quality of training material
    And most importantly evaluating the particular individual who would be teaching weeks 2 & 3.  A lot of stats and you can loose folks quickly depending on the instructor



    Drop me a note at [email protected], and I’ll send you some material that should help.  I gave a paper at SME on “Staying out of the Hands of Charlatans”, and I’ll give you a copy of the slides.  I also have some other stuff that should help.


    Arturo Ruiz Falcó

    Denton, I´d be appreciate if you could send these materials. It will be helpful to keep off charlatans. Thanks in advance and best regards, 
    [email protected]


    Joy Cowling

    Make sure you find out what the plan is for making you self-sufficient?  What kind fo access will you have to materials after the consultants are gone?  You will need files that you can modify to fit your business.  The philosophy on that is very different among consultants.  Make sure you have an arrangement that works for you.  Get that in writing up front.  I’ve seen people get burned by not doing so.


    Rob Williamson

    Our team has provided RFP assistance for several organizations from a technical standpoint in terms of your IT concerns and needs.  For Six Sigma Training and consulting, I have heard many good things about STAT-A-MATRIX. 



    Dear Keith:I can help with what you need. I work primarily now in process improvement, but formerly was a Sr. Partner in a Six Sigma firm, that provided professional services (at very high fees) to large corporations. I am an “unbiased” 3rd party that has details for “how to implement six sigma in your corporation” and from that publication, includes how to select vendors, what to look for, traps to beward of, etc. I am also very familiar with most of the vendors out there.I’m happy to help you in whatever way I can, so let me know. I can be reached at the email address:
    [email protected]
    or by telephone at my office
    703-492-7568Delaine Campbell



    Focusing only on the “solution” (sic Six Sigma services) is risky.  Be sure to have in place a “change management” initiative (e.g. SEI’s Managing Technological Change (MTC) course or equivalent and/or other corporate cultural change efforts going on) to ensure the Six Sigma effort doesn’t unravel in 12 months.  Also make sure your RFP provides for training Champions (part of the MTC course)
        Six Sigma Academy in Arizona is one source for you needs.
         Hope this helps.
    Bob “always giving his 2-cents worth” Hanrahan



    Some hopefully helpful thoughts, but perhaps a bit controversial.
    1.  Why is the organization embarking on Six Sigma?  Is it in the top 3 priorities on the CEO’s agenda — not just lip service, but a Jack Welch/Larry Bossidy type commitment?
    The answer to this question should guide the development of your RFP and selection of potential vendors, because depending on your answer your organization’s success with Six Sigma will hinge on the implementation strategy you develop.  Specifically, if Six Sigma really is at the top of the CEO/President’s agenda then the aggressive organiztion-wide implementation approach recommended by most Six Sigma providers can work. 
    The strategy typically involves, basically, overwhelming the built-in resistance to change through getting lots of people trained coupled with very vocal, visible leadership from the top.  Many people will still see Six Sigma as the next “program of the month” but they will come around as they begin to see that Six Sigma is for real based on those that actively participate being rewarded with promotion and recognition and the sustained interest and enthusiasm of top management. 
    If this is the route you are looking to take then you need a resource that has the capacity and the tools to support a large-scale, aggressive roll-out — i.e. well packaged training that can be delivered on-site or available in public sessions, software to support project tracking and perhaps availability of on-line training, etc.
    If Six Sigma is not really at the top of the CEO/President’s agenda — i.e. they are doing it because your competitors are or because they read an article by Jack Welch etc. — then you will need a very different implementation approach and a different set of competencies from the resource you select.  In this environment the mass roll-out strategy favored by the big companies and big consultants typically does not work well.  These are the companies that have spent millions on Six Sigma and 18 – 24 months later they have lots of people trained, but little results and flagging momentum for the effort.  Top Management has checked off the “Six Sigma Box” and moved on to something else.  Six Sigma will have made an impact on the organization by increasing the capability of those trained and getting some results on a number of improvement projects but will not have made a lasting impact on the culture of the organization. 
    No amount of training in “Change Management” can overcome the fact that Six Sigma is not really at the very top of the CEO/President’s Agenda.  However, there is an alternative implementation strategy for organizations in this boat. 
    It is dependent on finding a resource who is very good at helping the leadership team identify a critical few high priority improvement opportunities linked to strategic objectives, and focusing your implementation on delivering results quickly to increase top management’s confidence and buy-in for Six Sigma.  This “narrow and deep” implementation approach is designed to break down resistance to change in the organization by creating “pockets of excellence” that begin to get other Senior Leaders interested in duplicating the success in their area of the organization.
    In this scenario people are trained and engaged “just-in-time” and alot of attention is placed on ensuring that every project launched is 100% successful and managed to very tight completion timeframes.  Often, companies will use a toolset side-by-side with DMAIC that is specifically designed to deliver “quick-wins” to put money in the bank to fund going after the tougher problems with longer cycle Black Belt Projects.
    In this scenario, at least for the the first 12 – 18 months, the bells and whistles like on-line training and project tracking software that are designed to support rapid organization-wide roll-out are much less important.
    What is important is selecting a resource that understands how to integrate Six Sigma into the business strategy right from the start and has the credibilty to work at the Senior Leader level to help them reach consensus on the right pace and focus of the implementation based on a realistic assessment of organization readiness.
    Six Sigma has real value and real staying power, but as more companies fail because they adopt “me too” approach to implementing Six Sigma without the REAL commitment at the top it will lose credibility and wind up on the same organization-change scrap heap as Reengineering, TQM etc.
    Officially stepping down off the Soap Box!  Hope this was helpful.  If so, and you would like to talk further, I can be reached via email at [email protected] or at (616) 383 3400.



    I would recommend using a group that has good solid experience using Six Sigma within your industry or service.  It has been my experience learning by example works best.  Using examples with industrial specs and requirenments will looses a student focused on transactional activity and vica versa.

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