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Six Sigma Tools

Tools to achieve the benefits of zero defects

Six Sigma tools are the meat and potatoes of the Six Sigma methodology. Without the right tools, you cannot hope to build a truly effecient business.

These tools allow you to implement the methods that can transform your business from mediocre to zero defect.

What follows is a list of some of the more important Six Sigma tools that are used to implement real change in a business that has significant problems.

  1. Quality Function Deployment (QFD). QFD helps Six Sigma Black Belts drive customer-focused development across the design process. With QFD, a business identifies, communicates, and prioritizes customer needs and expectations--their set of requirements. Using QFD, Six Sigma teams make a business more able to focus on the activities that most please the customer, beat competitors, and are in accord with the organization. These concepts were started in the Japanese ship-building industry back in the 1960s.

  2. The Cause and Effect, or C&E, Matrix. This is a Six Sigma tool that permits project leaders to facilitate team decision-making. Selecting, prioritizing, and analyzing the data to be able to see problems in the process of the business. The C&E Matrix comes into play in the Measure phase of the DMAIC methodology. It's used to obtain team consensus so there can be alignment between the factors in a process and that process' outcomes.

  3. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). FMEA is used by Six Sigma teams to cut off weaknesses in a product or process. It sees these things in advance, before they even happen. FMEA comes into play before a company implements new products, services, or processes. Once failure scenarios for these have been identified by the team, measures are put into place to prevent them. The objective is to improve quality, performance, and reliability. On November 4, 1949, the U.S. Military Procedure MIL-P-1629, better known as "Procedures for Performing a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis", first conceived of FMEA.

  4. T-Test - Sometimes called the Student T-Test. A statistical technique that you can use to determine if a sample is likely part of a larger population. Another way to say it is whether the means or averages of 2 samples or populations are equal. This method is often called the test of the null hypothesis. The primary assumptions for use are normal distributions and equal variances. Excellent for ensuring that your process is still working correctly.

  5. Control Charts. These are used for continuous processes. The graphical representation of the process over time shows you when it is going wrong. When the process passes statistical limits set on the chart then you know action is needed to correct a problem. Control charts consist of a centerline, upper and lower statistically determined control limits, and performance data which are plotted over time.

  6. Design of Experiments (DOE). When you want to know whether a theory is true or not, you test it. DOE is used to perform experiments to test multiple ideas about a process. DOE uses a statistical method called analysis of variance to obtain its results.


    With these Six Sigma Tools in your toolchest, you are prepared for solving many of the problems that your business has or will have. You can expect to see problems in their infancy, when they can be solved with out major difficulty.

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