Six Sigma Quality in Operations and Supply Chain


In the world of modern business, managers and their leaders try to use a variety of tactics and strategies in order to achieve a certain increase in their profits, gather a solid client base, and demonstrate high-level professionalism in their work. Six Sigma is one of the approaches that aim to develop organizational processes through defining and eliminating defects and errors and reducing cycle times (Evans & Lindsay 2015).

Chapter 12 about Six Sigma quality in the book Operations and Supply Chain Management by Jacobs and Chase (2013) describes the chosen method with a number of techniques focused on organizational improvement. To understand this process, it is not enough to give definitions and evaluate Sig Sigma through the prism of total quality management. One should pose specific questions about this tool, learn how to take a step properly in every new situation, and understand the methods and specifics of using Six Sigma in business to complete organizational goals and establish trustful relationships with customers.

Six Sigma Introduction

There are many interpretations of Six Sigma in modern business. It is a set of techniques with the help of which it is possible to improve a working process from multiple perspectives. The peculiar feature of this process is the necessity to focus on outputs that may be critical to clients (Evans & Lindsay 2015). Six Sigma helps eliminate defects and evaluate quality deviation with maximum excellence being achieved. Defects are the components of the system that cannot meet the customers’ demands within a certain time frame. Six Sigma can detect two defects per every billion units (Jacobs & Chase 2013). Therefore, statistical tools should be properly identified and explained in every organization.

Managers should use Six Sigma to learn their clients better and clarify what kind of products must be offered or when competition between companies cannot be neglected. The main outcomes of this process are increased customer satisfaction and firm revenue. When managers know their customers, they understand what kind of service should be offered and what kind of product may be introduced. At the same time, the evaluation of the company’s resources and demands makes managers think about employees and provide them with appropriate working conditions. These are the reasons why organizations prefer to choose this single method instead of working with several options in order to demonstrate the same results.

Six Sigma Understanding

The use of Six Sigma in organizations may lead to the creation of a number of questions, focusing on the methods’ comparison, business preferences, and other details that play a role in choosing this technique. Some organizations find it enough to know how the system can work and what results may be achieved. However, in many companies, managers want to know how Six Sigma is applied to different industries and why the chosen system is sustainable.

Waste elimination is the core aspect of the Six Sigma model. Therefore, it is reasonable to know if this method slows down production time. Finally, a better understanding of Six Sigma can be gained through experimentation, practice, and the experiences of other companies like its founder, Motorola (Evans & Lindsay 2015). Managers who choose Six Sigma usually succeed in continuous reinforcement and obtain positive rewards for their business growth and the development of every employee. However, it is not enough to define the advantages of the method and use it all the time. Organizational success is a possibility to define the differences from other ideas compared to Six Sigma.

Six Sigma Philosophy in Total Quality Management

Organizations that deal with goods and customers are free to use Six Sigma under any conditions and anytime. Its philosophy is based on five main principles, including definition, measurement, analysis, improvement, and control, also known as DMAIC (Jacobs & Chase 2013). Though the results of the Six Sigma model implementation depend on revenue changes and the self-responsibilities of managers to analyze and recognize problematic aspects, the role of clients cannot be ignored.

This method defines customers as the main judges of quality and products (Evans & Lindsay 2015). The interpretation of quality is an imperative concept because it determines if Six Sigma is successful and failed in business. It has to be implemented on a company-wide scale so total quality management can demonstrate success in inputs and outputs (Jacobs & Chase 2013). The assessment of the market value and the comparison of the goods that are actually introduced promote the establishment of the quality criteria according to which revenue predictions can be made, and new improvement goals are defined regarding the recent achievements.

Six Sigma Methodology

Total quality management focuses on the introduction of a careful design for products or services and ensuring that organizations are able to meet the standards of the offered design. Six Sigma consists of several projects, and the most important one is based on the standards of the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDCA) cycle. It is the already mentioned DMAIN method according to which customers cannot be ignored but have to consider in decision-making. In addition to this method, the Six Sigma process may include several important analytical tools like flowcharts, run charts, and opportunity flow diagrams (Jacobs & Chase 2013).

The list of tools that can be introduced as a part of the Six Sigma model is long with a variety of goals that may be achieved. For example, there is a failure mode and effect analysis approach in terms of which the identification and estimation of risks are possible. The design of experiments (DOE) is a multivariate testing method where the change of variables allows determining the most influential factors of the work (Jacobs & Chase 2013). The strength of this method is the possibility of experimentation in managing employees and clients.


The effectiveness of the methods in the Six Sigma model depends on how well employees can understand their roles and participate in different activities. The relation between Six Sigma and total quality management was thoroughly explained in the study of Chiarini (2013). Direct participation of employees and their abilities to evaluate resources and outcomes increase the health and safety of all stakeholders. The core aspect of Six Sigma is poor quality cost reduction. It helps to identify the needs of customers and increase their satisfaction. Such factors as staff hierarchy and effective working environment contribute to the creation of health projects and the elimination of unclear steps and ineffective techniques.

In general, the establishment of Six Sigma in companies is one of the main steps in their long-life improvement. Being a complex set of techniques, this method has to be taken systematically. First, it is required to identify the goals of a project with the necessary improvement aspects. The next stage is the evaluation of the resources with the help of which it is possible to gather information and make certain conclusions.

Finally, the involvement of employees, their managers, and leaders cannot be ignored because they are the main instruments of Six Sigma. Despite the already mentioned steps and factors, one should memorize that the success of this model depends on the possibility to recognize and use the opinions of customers as the leading judges of a working process and the quality of products. As soon as all these aspects are taken into consideration, and the roles are defined, Six Sigma can work in and for a company.


To conclude, total quality management cannot be discussed without mentioning the Six Sigma method. It is one of the most effective and successful projects where the connection between customers and a company occurs. Customer satisfaction, quality control, increased revenue, and defect elimination is the crucial outcomes that positively affect business growth. Managers should also understand their roles as the main decision-makers.

They must choose methods and tools like flowcharts or diagrams to analyze the situation and clarify if the required improvement is achieved or not. Customer involvement makes this technique interesting for many organizations because it allows concentrating on quality management and people who want to use offered products and services. Improvement of services through the prism of Six Sigma is a unique opportunity for modern business companies to understand their abilities, learn new aspects, and contribute to future progress without significant losses and expenses. The chosen chapter helps understand the basics of Six Sigma with all its pros and cons.

Reference List

Chiarini, A 2013, ‘Relationships between total quality management and Six Sigma inside European manufacturing companies: a dedicated survey’, International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 179-194.

Evans, J & Lindsay, W 2015, An introduction to six sigma and process improvement, 2nd edn, Cengage Learning, Stamford, CT.

Jacobs, F & Chase, R 2013, Operations and supply chain management, 14th edn, McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY.

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