In a fast-paced world, it’s easier than you think to let things slip by. Several things can go wrong on a project. For example, the data used for a project was inaccurate, your team’s deadline has come and passed, or your product isn’t sitting right with its target demographics. To ensure success, many use the Six Sigma methodology.
Particularly when you’re working hard on developing a product for your business, the Six Sigma process can come in handy. After pouring a ton of man-hours into the development of a product, chances are that you really don’t want it to fail. But how do you ensure that a product doesn’t have any defects and won’t interfere with your bottom line?
What Is Six Sigma?
The Six Sigma methodologies are a series of processes and quality improvement initiatives that aim to rid a business’s product development cycle of defects and waste. It’s pretty ambitious, but Six Sigma is a tried and true method of what’s known as a ‘continuous improvement’ methodology.
The name Six Sigma is taken from statistics and refers to the process capability of quality control, which is extremely important to the Six Sigma methodology.
Six Sigma’s methodologies are based on two concepts: DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC is used to improve older, more established business processes, while DMADV is usually applied to newer business processes.
DMAIC is an acronym that refers to a series of steps taken to improve a process. It consists of define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.
To implement this system, a business professional must:
- Define a system
- Measure aspects and collect data
- Analyze the data
- Improve the process
- Control the future process
By clearly stating its goals, a business team can keep an eye out for any problematic features that may arise in its developmental process.
Like DMAIC, DMADV is also an acronym. It refers to how project managers and team members at a business must define, measure, analyze, design, and verify. These steps are broken down below.
- Define. What are the goals of the project or product?
- Measure. Team members need to measure product capabilities and manage risks.
- Analyze. Analyzing pertinent info and data is crucial to improving business processes.
- Design. Create a new design. Scrap what didn’t work before and design something that does based on the data collected.
- Verify. Checking your new design means implementing the processes and seeing if your intended business improvements come to fruition.
What Is Six Sigma Used For?
So what are the basic underlying principles of Six Sigma? Let’s break it down.
- Process Improvement. Although nothing is perfect, the point of the Six Sigma process is to help you get as close to perfection as possible. Using DMAIC and DMADV, Six Sigma is a great way to try to improve your business’s output by reducing defects and waste.
- Data Measurement and Data Analysis. Data can be used to determine the success of nearly everything. Each product that you use in your daily life has gone through many cycles of quality control to ensure it’s fulfilling its intended uses. By harnessing the power of data, Six Sigma can be used to continuously improve business processes.
- Product Improvements. What happens when a product fails? It’s bound to be a disappointment, but it is also an opportunity to review mistakes and improve upon them. Using data as mentioned earlier, project managers can scrap ineffective designs and spearhead new experiments and ideas.
- Increase Customer Satisfaction. Overall, this is the ultimate goal of the Six Sigma process. By minimizing waste and variation, products and services are more likely to achieve success with customers.
Six Sigma Belt Levels
There are various levels of Six Sigma methodologies. Modeled after the karate belt system, a Six Sigma belt level denotes an individual’s level of expertise within the method.
Let’s look at the belts and what they mean for business professionals.
As you may have guessed, the white belt shows someone has a fundamental grasp on the Six Sigma methodologies. This individual hasn’t taken their Six Sigma skills to the next level with a Six Sigma certification or online course.
Those with a yellow belt have an understanding of basic and intermediate concepts within the Six Sigma framework. Yellow belt professionals are familiar with core Six Sigma concepts and can deliver them on a wider scale.
Yellow belt professionals may have attended a few courses or seminars to improve their Six Sigma skills.
Six Sigma green belts have considerable knowledge of what goes into implementing the two Six Sigma methodologies. They can effectively change the course of a business’s development cycle.
Project leads and support staff should ideally have at least a Six Sigma green belt certification.
As with the karate belt system, the Six Sigma black belt signifies an impressive level of mastery in Six Sigma implementation. It takes extensive Six Sigma training to become a black belt.
Those looking to earn a Six Sigma black belt need to get certified and learn how to assist their team members in the development process. Those who have a black belt will know a lot about statistics, including standard deviations, distributions, case studies, and standard error. A black belt can lead a team effectively and implement successful business strategies.
After the black belt, there are also more advanced levels of Six Sigma.
Learning Six Sigma
Learning Six Sigma is useful whether you want to become a black belt, or just want to learn a little more about how to implement effective strategies that minimize defects.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Six Sigma?
Depending on the program, it could take anywhere from one to three months. This is the standard length for many Lean Six Sigma certification courses.
How to Learn Six Sigma: Step-by-Step
Let’s look at the steps you should take to learn Six Sigma.
- Enroll in a class. There is no shortage of great online courses and Six Sigma training to take advantage of. These various classes give you the building blocks you need to learn the Six Sigma methodologies.
- Earn a certificate. With many courses, you can earn a Six Sigma certification. These allow you to enhance your resume and show hiring managers and existing employers that you’re familiar with good business practices.
- Earn training at various belt levels. Your learning journey is never quite over. Once you have mastered a yellow belt or green belt, why not take it to the next tier? With higher Six Sigma belts, the more you can do with the qualification. For example, at the higher black belt levels, you can become a Six Sigma mentor and program lead.
The Best Six Sigma Courses and Training
Luckily, there are quite a few Six Sigma training courses, classes, and certification programs for anyone looking to reduce waste and risk during the production cycle. Learning Six Sigma is easy and usually affordable.
Online Six Sigma Classes
There are many Six Sigma training options available online, including some offered by Six Sigma’s own institutes. Below is a look at the best online education options.
- Provider: Udemy
- Time: About 9 hours
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $40
For those who want to take their white and yellow belt training to the next level and possibly even become a project manager, this Udemy course is perfect. Although there are no prerequisites, familiarity with basic statistical concepts, especially Six Sigma, is recommended.
Over nine hours and 44 lectures, learners will gain insight and knowledge into best business practices that will help you gain the potential to lead a project. This class doesn’t provide a Six Sigma green belt certification but will assist you in preparing for the exam.
Six Sigma Global Institute: Six Sigma Belt Certification Online
- Provider: Six Sigma Global Institute
- Time: Varies
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $100+
Instead of limiting yourself to taking a specific course to earn a belt, there’s also a place where you can go to train for any belt level. The Six Sigma Global Institute is an accredited organization that provides many Six Sigma courses.
The institute offers courses at each belt level, varying in cost and length. All of the courses are self-paced and flexible.
Six Sigma Global Institute offers yellow belt, green belt, black belt, and master black belt courses. In each, you will become familiar with Six Sigma methodologies, eventually reaching the master black belt. Once you are at this belt level, you will be ready to teach others to master the development process.
The institute has intimate ties with many Fortune 500 companies, providing a valuable pipeline for future careers and showing that the methods are tried and true.
Free Six Sigma Courses
Not everyone has the means to shell out hundreds of dollars for professional courses, so exploring free options is also necessary. There are quite a few high-quality, free online courses that can get you started in improving businesses.
Six Sigma White Belt Training & Certification
- Provider: Aveta Business Institute
- Time: January 1, 2021 – February 28, 2021 (8 weeks)
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
In this textbook-structured Six Sigma course, students will learn the basics for free. Not only will individuals learn the ins and outs of Six Sigma, but they will also tackle core problems that may be faced while implementing the methodologies.
Overall, the central tenets of this free Six Sigma course are:
- Issues that Six Sigma faces
- Quality improvement methods
Aveta Business Institute also allows participants to take other classes and earn Six Sigma certifications.
- Provider: edX
- Time: Eight weeks
- Prerequisites: none
- Price: Free
EdX has a great collection of Six Sigma courses you can choose from. Of these, the Analyze, Improve, Control course covers all the critical phases of the DMAIC process.
In this online course, students will focus primarily on data and the importance of learning data visualization to improve a business.
This course teaches everything from standard deviations to linear regressions. While there are no prerequisites, it’s advisable to have some sort of basic statistical knowledge. Jumping right into analyzing data may be a little intimidating if you don’t know much about statistics.
The course is entirely self-paced, allowing you to learn on your own time. Afterward, you have the opportunity to earn certificates through edX, including the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt: Quantitative Tools for Quality and Productivity or the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.
The Best Six Sigma Books
Although there is an abundance of online resources for Six Sigma, don’t forget that good old fashioned books can also teach you a lot about the methodologies.
Lean Six Sigma for Dummies by John Morgan
The ‘For Dummies’ books are fantastic for beginners in nearly any subject. This is especially relevant for things like Six Sigma, as it’s not a simple concept. This book on Lean Six Sigma is a valuable and easy to process resource.
it is perfect for project managers curious about SixSigma implementation or those who are looking for a new way to improve business practices. If you’re stuck in an ineffective development cycle at work, try this book.
The Six Sigma Handbook by Thomas Pyzdek and Paul Keller
This industry-approved handbook on Six Sigma is currently in its 5th edition, and it’s no surprise why. Thomas Pyzdek and Paul Keller have created and honed a foolproof method for learning Six Sigma. The book is aimed at assisting project managers, employees, and other business professionals with increasing profitability, productivity, and quality control.
The authors outline the DMAIC process and go into each aspect in great detail. Both authors have decades of Lean Six Sigma experience, so you can rest easy knowing that these two know what they’re talking about.
Six Sigma: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide: A Complete Training & Reference Guide for White Belts, Yellow Belts, Green Belts, and Black Belts by The Council for Six Sigma Certification
This impressive tome on everything Six Sigma is published by The Council for Six Sigma Certification. It contains basic history and information for beginners, and more advanced techniques and concepts for those studying for their Six Sigma green belts or master black belts.
This book is a great resource, no matter your particular position within a company. It doubles as a training manual for employees and offers invaluable advice for increasing productivity and profitability.
Over eight units, The Council for Six Sigma Certification gives readers an inside look at Six Sigma’s application in industries such as health care, human resources, military, and finance. These examples are an excellent way to illustrate the effectiveness of Six Sigma methodologies.
Online Six Sigma Resources
These resources allow you to casually explore how Six Sigma can increase the success of a business.
This is probably the first resource you should check, as it’s jam-packed with nearly everything you need to know about Six Sigma.
This site starts with the basics, outlined in a simple way, and also offers information for advanced Six Sigma professionals. The site has various courses and provides essential tools like the comprehensive Six Sigma glossary.
If you’re looking to earn a green belt certification, GoLearnSixSigma will point you in the right direction.
Six Sigma Online from Aveta Business Institute
Along with offering online courses, the Aveta Business Institute is also a great resource for Six Sigma information. It has information on everything you need to know about Six Sigma, including news, templates, and implementation tips.
They also offer a glossary of terms and pages business practices, tools, and which businesses benefit the most from Six Sigma. With the free Six Sigma resources on the Aveta Business Institute website, you’ll be able to lead a team or help produce a product with minimal waste and defects.
Should You Study Six Sigma?
If you have been experiencing roadblocks while working on important projects, learning the Six Sigma methodologies might be the boost you need. Should you study Six Sigma? Yes. As with business practices like Kanban and Scrum, Six Sigma aims to improve many aspects of the development process.
If you want to reduce waste and product defects, learning Six Sigma has the potential to take your project to the next level. There’s no shortage of resources, online Six Sigma classes, and other training programs to help you improve processes at your place of employment.