Operations Strategy: Design for Six Sigma - Getting it Right the First Time


Operations Strategy: Design for Six Sigma - Getting it Right the First Time

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 - 9:42
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 09:40
As discussed previously, Lean Six Sigma (LSS) DMAIC can help to ensure existing processes and products are as waste-free as possible, but what can be done to ensure new systems, processes and products are optimized prior to deployment? Fortunately, there is another methodology in the LSS toolkit, known as Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).

Remodeling versus Building from Scratch

To help understand the difference between Lean Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma, think of the concept of converting an existing home to meet optimum energy efficiency standards, versus building a new, state-of-the art, energy-efficient home to your specifications. Using data to incorporate the most energy-efficient materials and features possible, everything that can be a wasteful power drain on the home is eliminated. 

The DFSS approach, when applied to new organizational operations, works the same way. It focuses on designing processes, products and systems that contain minimum variation and waste. Similar to LSS DMAIC, the focus is on identifying data to make informed decisions. 

The DFSS methodology focuses on the concept of responding to the “Voice of the X.” This means listening to the voice of the administration, customers, suppliers and anyone else who will directly impact your processes or supply chain. The purpose is to clearly define the following:

  • What is required?
  • When it is required?
  • Who requires it?
  • How they require it?
  • Where it is required?
  • Why is it required? 

This helps establish the rationale for what steps are involved in a new process and the features required. This helps eliminate the risk of implementing a process that is not optimized and ensures that only value-added services are provided, in the most systematic manner possible. 

DFSS in Action

As part of IBM's improvement strategy, IBM applied DFSS and developed robust processes to support over 33,000 suppliers in a real-time environment.

Let Us Hear From You

Now that we have wrapped up our series on Six Sigma programs, what are your thoughts? Do you think these strategies can be combined to make improvements in your supply chain?



Monica Painter Ms. Monica Painter is a Partner with IBM Global Business Services. She is IBM’s Global Leader for Lean and “Green” Six Sigma and she is the Operations Strategy Leader for the Public Sector’s Operations and Supply Chain Management Practice. She has twenty years of client sales, engagement management, consulting, team facilitation, and management experience. She also has a strong background in business transformation and innovation, business process management, supply chain management, change management, including strategic alignment, organization design and development, stakeholder analysis and communication, business performance improvement including analytics, and change acceleration. Ms. Painter is a certified Master Black Belt and is known across industry as a Subject Matter Expert.

She holds a B.S. in Marketing and Management from The McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia, and an MBA specializing in Organization Behavior & Finance from The Wallace E. Carroll School of Management, Boston College.

Monica Painter (monica.painter@us.ibm.com)