Six Sigma is a detailed method of process improvement management that uses data to refine business practices, minimise errors and help a business reach its full potential. Developed by Motorola in the 1980s, Six Sigma was introduced to reduce errors in business processes, the knock-on effect to productivity and profits resulting in the huge success that the company saw the following decade.
Six Sigma analyses data at a minute level, allowing management to make changes based on the most detailed level of information. This helps to keep errors at a minimum and focuses every part of the business process in the most productive direction.
This overview will cover the following:
- What Six Sigma is and how it works
- Six Sigma Belts
- Benefits of Six Sigma
- Is Six Sigma right for your business?
- Cost of Six Sigma Training
- The best Six Sigma training providers in the UK
Six Sigma: What is it & how does it work?
Six Sigma is a globally recognised business refinement methodology that is intended to minimise defects (e.g. process flaws + customer satisfaction) at every stage of an enterprise’s processes. By reducing – or even eliminating – defects it is not uncommon for businesses utilising Six Sigma methods to notice improvements in:
- Cost savings
Six Sigma works by collecting and analysing data on the Key Input Process Variables that exist within and determine pre-existing company operations, and then formulating a precise action plan based on the findings. This action plan is then tested to ensure the Key Process Output Variables are satisfactory and as planned, before being implemented on a larger scale. On-going monitoring is carried out to track progress towards measurable business specific goals.
Six Sigma Belts
All company employees have very specific Six Sigma roles, with a clearly defined hierarchy and chain of command. The names of these roles are based on martial arts grading:
- White Belt
- Yellow Belt
- Green Belt
- Black Belt
Six Sigma Benefits
There are many benefits to using the Six Sigma methodology and many of these can apply to a variety of different sectors, such as manufacturing, R&D and service industries. These benefits include:
- Improved Customer Service
- Reduced Time Cycle
- Focused Strategy
- Improved Time Management
- Employee Development
- Cost Savings
Improved Customer Service
The main aim of Six Sigma is to eliminate 99.9997% of all errors within a business process. When originally established, Six Sigma was aimed at manufacturing processes, however as its tenets have been adopted by the wider business world, ‘errors’ has come to mean anything from actual flaws in the system through to customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, Six Sigma can be a useful tool in improving the way a business works, streamlining processes to ensure a smoother customer journey.
This in turn:
- Reduces waiting times – Faster feedback to consumer queries is a hallmark of a well-respected, reliable and trustworthy business.
- Improved Quality – Improving the quality of the product you manufacture or the service you offer is sure to boost the satisfaction for the end user
With easier transactions for your customer, faster service times and a generally higher level of service, customers will feel more valued and have a greater sense of loyalty to the service or product you offer.
Reduced Cycle Time
When implemented correctly, Six Sigma can reduce a business’ cycle times significantly. By using a data-driven approach, each project is built upon solid analytical foundations that pinpoint and eliminate inefficient processes.
This helps your business work more efficiently – manufacturing more high quality goods or supplying a wider range of high quality services to your customers.
By using Six Sigma analytical tools, many internal processes can be refined and focused to ensure that the level of complexity within your business is reduced. The allows your business to direct actions, improve yield and reduce waste.
Focus is at the heart of the Six Sigma method and can have an enormous effect on profits and efficiency.
Improved Time Management
Six Sigma, while looking at improving efficiency of a business as whole, also looks to individual employees to manage their time efficiently. By implementing Six Sigma techniques such as setting SMART goals and action plans on an individual level, an employee is able to improve both job satisfaction and performance.
Six Sigma training can also benefit staff directly as it ensures that everyone, from the most junior worker to the most senior executive, understands the overall aim of the action plan, their individual role in achieving it, and how to use the skills they have learned to carry out that role.
Staff satisfaction and morale is improved, and there is a greater sense of team spirit because everyone is working towards the same goal, with clearly defined roles and strategies.
There are plenty of Six Sigma training courses available in the UK and Expert Market works with some of the leading providers. To get the best offers available, just complete the form at the top of the page.
All of these benefits can add up to a vast increase of profits, especially over the medium and long term. By systematically measuring the parts of your business that are not reaching their full potential and then undertaking a course of action – dictated by the Six Sigma philosophy – your business can make huge savings due to the elimination of waste within company processes..
Is Six Sigma Right For Your Business?
Nearly all businesses can benefit from the streamlining and analytical nature of Six Sigma. Whether it is a cost-efficient method for you to employ, however, will depend on a few factors.
Although all businesses can benefit from its implementation, Six Sigma may not be ideal for certain small businesses. The larger a business is, the more likely it will benefit from an analytical approach to the sorts of errors and inefficiency that can become undetected in a complex venture.
However, small companies are still able to utilise Six Sigma and take advantage of the teachings, but they may find it more cost effective to do so through cheaper online courses rather than the more expensive training options on offer. Making sure you understand the type of help it can provide to your business is key to choosing the right option.
Costs Of Six Sigma Training
Six Sigma training covers several levels and can be completed in a number of different ways. Candidates can opt to work their way through each level, or apply directly for the higher level certification, depending on their individual circumstances and experience.
The initial training introduces the concept of Six Sigma, and outlines how the strategy works; this is known as White Belt. Further training covers the specifics of the different roles (e.g. Yellow Belt), and some of the management tools used in the programme (e.g. Green Belt), as well as giving opportunities for work based projects (e.g. Black Belt).
Upper level training is spread out over a longer time and candidates can elect different focus areas depending on the needs of the organisation. You should bear in mind that achievement at the upper levels is assessed through a combination of self-study exams and work based projects.
General Cost Guide
There are four levels of Six Sigma to choose from:
|Yellow Belt||£600 – 800||3|
(5 days per month for 2 months)
(5 days per month for 5 months)
Introductory training courses are usually a day long, whilst Yellow Belt courses last for around 3 days. Green Belt training is more extensive, usually consisting of 10-15 days of training spread over a few weeks, while Black Belt level requires 15-21 days of training, undertaken over the course of a few months, to enable in-depth work-based learning tasks to be completed.
Many providers also offer bespoke packages for individual companies to ensure training is specifically focused on the needs of the organisation.
When budgeting for a training program, it is important to take into account any possible additional costs. Some course fees do not include the relevant software, which will then have to be purchased separately. Certification or project assessment may also need to be paid independently from the overall fee.
Best Companies for Six Sigma Training
As a dedicated B2B supplier network, Expert Market takes pride in only working with the most reputable companies in the market. We work with a range of high quality Six Sigma training suppliers, including some of the best on the market:
- British Quality Foundation – Based in London and Europe’s biggest corporate membership body focusing on business improvement.
- Six Sigma Group Ltd – Based in Rugby. Delivers Lean Six Sigma training with a practical emphasis.
- Carnegie Enterprise Ltd – Based in Dunfermline. Works with public and private sector companies in the UK and internationally. Can give briefing sessions to senior management prior to booking.
- The Manufacturing Institute – Based in Manchester. A charity devoted to improving the efficiency of manufacturing organisations.
- Six Sigma Training Solutions – Based in Newport, South Wales. Offers Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma training.
- The Six Sigma School – Based in Rochester. Training is delivered exclusively via E-Learning.
- Systonomy – Based in London. Focuses on delivering training in IT, software development and engineering environments.
- Zenith Lean – Based in Wrexham. Offering online courses and a progressive training method. Masters level tutors and experienced staff.
- E-Careers – Based in Berkshire. Have over 300,000 students worldwide and over 180 specialist tutors
- Claudius Consulting – Based in York. Specialises in Six Sigma training and offers a Master Black Belt level.
Six Sigma is not the only opportunity to maximise a business’s potential. Other methods include:
- Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma
Essentially Six Sigma light, Lean Six Sigma is a speedier and streamlined version without some of the complexities inherent in full Six Sigma training. It can be used with or without specialist software and is thought to be a good choice in businesses that use manufacturing and production.
Standing for Capability Maturity Model Integration, CMMI uses a training and assessment model to help improve performance. Developed and marketed by Carnegie Mellon University, it had been mostly utilised in the software industry. In recent years, however, it has been found to have great benefits in other sectors.
SPC stands for Statistical Process Control and originates from the 1920’s. It has since been developed and customised to suit all manner of businesses. SPC has been proven to increase product quality and reduce variation in manufacturing. It achieves this by utilising statistics and data.
To learn more about Six Sigma we recommend following the links throughout this page. This will help you refine what you are looking for. Once you know which Six Sigma course you’re interested in just fill in the form at the top of the page and we’ll take care of the rest.