Process improvement

An organization needs to continuously improve its business processes as they are essentially a pre-requisite to staying alive in today’s competitive market.  This article shares some deep insights on the systematic approach offered by Six Sigma towards process improvement.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is basically a measurement based management strategy which is used for the optimization of internal processes. Six Sigma aims to improve the underlying processes and help in increasing customer satisfaction. This methodology reduces the waste and variations in the processes. This ultimately leads to the consistent and optimal performance of the processes involved in a business as the defects (errors) are lowered and the efficiency is increased.

DMAIC Model for Process Quality Improvement

The DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) model is basically designed for quality improvement and waste reduction (only for existing processes).


The main aim of this phase is to recapitulate the complete project plan. The phase is completely focused on identifying the:

  • Scope and goals of the project
  • Internal and external customers
  • Problems and defects in the processes
  • Requirements of the customers.

Here, opportunities for six sigma processes are identified using the inputs from the voice of customers, businesses, processes and sometimes employees also.  Based on these inputs, a high-level process map and project plan is developed. Thereafter, a Project charter is prepared which serves as an initial blueprint for any six sigma project. The Project Charter contains:

  • Business case
  • Problem statement
  • Goal Statement
  • Project scope
  • Team and responsibilities
  • Estimated time/ roadmap
  • Project benefits

Before going ahead the project charter is duly approved and signed by the top management.


All the Lean Six Sigma green belt professionals collect the data which is relevant as per the scope of the project. These professionals focus on identifying the essential parameters which can be quantified and they even look out for ways to measure these parameters using different techniques.

After the data is collected by quantification, it is analyzed through frequency distributions which further help to ascertain the nature of data.


The Lean Six Sigma Analyze phase helps to identify the root cause pertaining to business inefficiency. The lean six sigma green belt professionals identify the loopholes between the actual and the targeted performance.  This helps them to determine the opportunities for process improvement.

A drill-down approach is followed to reach the exact root cause of the process inefficiency. The phase kicks off by exploring all possible causes and then deducing the final root cause by verifying and validating the processes with the help of hypothesis and statistical tools.


This phase aims to find potential solutions to all the identified problems. Apart from determining the solutions, this phase helps in finding ways to implement and test the solutions with respect to the action plan suggested.  The main goal of this phase is to mitigate the risks and improve customer satisfaction and feedback.


The control phase generates a detailed solution monitoring plan which ensures the consistency of the performance by holding the gains. Here the post-implementation outputs are evaluated and the progress is ascertained. Based on the results, necessary corrections and modifications are made to the processes.

Winding Up:

Lean Six Sigma needs full support from the top management in order to realize its full potential. Basically, it follows a top-down approach where the top management’s commitment is the key to the success of lean six sigma projects.

Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt, Black belts or Master Black belt professionals should seek the best possible management support in order to bring successful process improvement. The results are exceptional and in fact quadrupled when the commitment is driven from all the three key pillars of organizational support i.e. top management, stakeholders and employees.

It is really important to implement Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology in organizational processes which will help in improving the bottom line profits as well as customer loyalty.

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