Managing Quality Research Paper

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Managing Quality With Six Sigma

Of the many Total Quality Management (TQM) frameworks in use for streamlining production, improving quality and creating more effective production and service delivery strategies, Six Sigma has proven to be one of the most effective. The intent of this analysis is to evaluate how Six Sigma continues to be one of the most effective quality management techniques for simplifying, streamlining and accelerating customer-centered change into enterprises (Mast, 2007). Six Sigma is often used in conjunction with agile development and production techniques, TQM frameworks including Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). When Six Sigma is used as part of these broader frameworks it is typically relied on to drive greater cost and time savings out of processes that have grown archaic and out of step with customers (Cocolicchio, 2007). The best practices of Six Sigma project management and execution center on aligning company processes, programs and strategies so that they make a significant and profitable contributions to customer satisfaction and loyalty (Fundin, Cronemyr, 2003).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Research Paper on Managing Quality Assignment

One of the most significant contributions of Six Sigma from a sales and marketing standpoint is to ensure the new product development and introduction (NPDI) process is effective and targeted to the most important customer needs (Pestorius, 2007). Six Sigma used from this standpoint has proven to be very effective in removing any variation in new product definition, from specification through functional prototype and finally delivered product (Cocolicchio, 2007). Increasingly Six Sigma is being used for also streamlining services-based business models with the primary objective of these projects integrating the many departments and functional areas of a business critical for fulfilling customer expectations (Mast, 2007). Best practices in using Six Sigma from a services standpoint also centers on making entirely new platforms and programs for delivering unique customer experiences as well (Pestorius, 2007). Companies committed to delivering exceptional customer experiences are quick to use Six Sigma to measure the overall value of their design, development and product prototype efforts and the corresponding effects on their company's profitability and performance (Hasan, Kerr, 2003).

Defining and Deploying Six Sigma in Enterprises

Six Sigma is predicated on a structured, scalable and proven methodology that can be applied to a multitude of scenarios, problem areas ands strategic areas in need of improvement within enterprises. In the context of the NPDI process, Six Sigma continues to be highly effective in defining the optimal mix of cross-functional coordination points within and outside an enterprise creating new products and services. When Six Sigma is used as part of any new product development process, the continual improvement in development, engineering, sourcing, supply chain and production are all attained (Hasan, Kerr, 2003). Practitioners are quick to point out that when Six Sigma is part of the NPDI process there is less variation in project and product definition and a significant reduction in scope creep as well (Pestorius, 2007). Six Sigma can revolutionize the NPDI process and engrain it into a culture so pervasively that it can permanently change a company for the better. Often when the financial performance and Return on Investment (ROI) of Six Sigma projects and programs show positive gain in financial gains, TQM and its related concepts become a core part of company cultures (Sherman, 2006). Six Sigma is delivering measurable financial gains across many different projects, ranging from operations, and supply chain management to marketing, pricing, customer service and the nascent area of service lifecycle management that concentrates on monetizing warranties (Fundin, Cronemyr, 2003). Six Sigma begins to have a galvanizing effect on a company's culture over time when significant results across each area of a business' value chain are reported in financial terms that CEOs and the board of directors can have confidence in being able to achieve on a consistent basis (Mast, 2007).

The cultural strength of Six Sigma to re-order a culture is seen in the history of TQM and its galvanizing effect at General Electric. Jack Welch brought a culture of accountability, metrics and measurement of performance including Six Sigma to GE as he believed the many unprofitable processes and businesses they were in at the time could be turned around with the technique. He also believed that Six Sigma held the secrets to effectively competing with the most lethal competitors at the time, the Japanese, who had en masse adopted TQM techniques and were beating the U.S. manufacturers on quality soundly (Mast, 2007). What Jack Welch showed was that by being entirely committed to Six Sigma and the results this TQM technique could bring across the entire value chain of GE, the corporate culture could also go through a transformation as well. What Jack Welch fought at GE to change the culture to one of higher performance is fairly common across many other corporations as well. There is fear of change, loss of status, and most critical to employees, loss of their access to information and eventual loss of their jobs. What GE did was to give employees an opportunity to contribute to the TQM initiatives and strategies to gain greater insights into how TQM strategies would impact their job s. This is another best practice in the use of TQM strategies in general and Six Sigma specifically (Sherman, 2006). What Jack Welch had done was completely redefine the culture of GE based on Six Sigma, making the two so tightly intertwined with each other that employees over time automatically though in its terms when planning and executing projects. The focus on results measurable from a TQM standpoint and the role of Six Sigma becomes part of the collective intelligence and persona of a company when done well (Mast, 2007). Successful deployments of Six Sigma revolutionize cultures as the text and course materials have powerfully demonstrated.

Six Sigma projects are deployed using a common methodology that begins with defining the enterprise-level objectives and then progresses through business transformation, process improvement and business unit improvements at the product, costing and process levels (Hasan, Kerr, 2003). Change management is also a critically important factor in the development and execution of Six Sigma projects and initiatives (Fundin, Cronemyr, 2003). Best practices in Six Sigma project management and implementation can effectively coordinate each phase of the Six Sigma methodology while staying focused on the strategic goals and objectives of the plan. This is one aspect of Six Sigma strategy performance that becomes more achievable over time, as the culture of a given organization becomes more engrained with TQM analytics, frameworks and initiatives over time (Sherman, 2006).

At the center of the Six Sigma methodology is the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC) Model (Hasan, Kerr, 2003). Each of the steps is briefly defined in Figure 1, the Six Sigma DMAIC Process.

Figure 1: Six Sigma DMAIC Process

Sources:

(Fundin, Cronemyr, 2003)

(Pestorius, 2007)

The DMAIC framework in many respects aligns with the NPDI process that is used in many consumer, commercial and service-based businesses for launching their new products. Due to this close alignment of the DMAIC and new product development strategies, Six Sigma is used extensively for coordinating cross-functional teams and strategies across many different departments at once. The Define Phase for example is where the business case, mapping of a specific business process, Voice of the Customer (VoC) feedback is gained and the specific customer requirements are defined (Fundin, Cronemyr, 2003). This is very comparable to the development of a new product that is based on a market requirements document (MRD) which in turns drives development across the enterprise. The Measure Phase is directly comparable to the market research phase of evaluating a new product concept through consumer and market-based feedback. The Analyze Phase is essential in both Six Sigma development and in the new product development phase as it isolates the customer problems and pain points a product's unique… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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