Six Sigma Tools for Process Improvement...

Six Sigma Tools for Process Improvement are significant elements that are essential for your business process improvement. These tools help in identifying the flaws and weaknesses and eliminating them for an error-free result.

If you use the process systematically, it will help in increasing your employees’ productivity and drive profits.

In this post, we will talk about the seven most essential tools that will help in business process improvement:-


Business Process Mapping:

It is the process of recording the activities of the business processes. This tool consists of roles and responsibilities, criteria involved in the process. It gives you a clear picture of each of the operations, such as the job of people within the process and ensures everyone is clear about their roles.

Types of Maps:

Flowchart – One of the most popular types of maps. Though it is not so flexible, it is easier to make it quickly. You can draw it with your hands, or in MS Office.

Value stream map – A more intense option to the flowchart. It is used across lean six sigma operations.

SIPOC – (Supplier, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, Customer) diagram – This diagram visually documents your business process from beginning to end.

Swimlane Diagram – It is used in process flow diagrams, that visually differentiates job sharing and responsibilities for sub-processes of a business process.


7 Elements of Waste:

7 Wastes process map will help you achieve the ideal state that you desire for by helping you to identify the waste and eliminate them.


Over Production – Building an excess quantity of units or more than the customer needs is sheer waste and produces more cost than required. The solution is to schedule and provide the exact amount that needs to be immediately sold/shipped.

Waiting – Waiting occurs when goods are not moving or being processed. Connecting processes together so that one feeds directly into the next can reduce waiting.

Transporting – Transporting product between processes incurs the cost and doesn’t add value to the product. Mapping the product flows can make it easier to visualize the extra time wasted either done manually or with the machine.

Processing – The waste of excess processing leads to a waste of money and time. If you can invest in smaller, more manageable tools where possible and combining steps will significantly decrease the waste of unnecessary processing.

Inventory – Excess inventory increases cash to spend, produces more handling and storage charges which you may never recover.

Motion – Excess motion is dangerous in terms of safety and health issues as well. For example, motion to accommodate a machine or frame a house; these can be achieved by resetting design, tools, and employees.

Defects – Quality defects lead to rework or scrap the product. It adds up to a massive cost to organizations.


Value Stream Mapping:

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a work environment efficiency tool which is constructed to combine material processing steps with information flow, including other related data. It is widely used in lean manufacturing but can be used in any industry.

The process map includes all the steps involved in the business process; process map, timeline, and information flow. The timeline appears from the process map and abstracts all the data during the process. The information flow describes how each of these steps cooperates.

VSM helps you create a robust implementation plan that will help to maximize your available resources and also help to ensure that materials and time are used efficiently.


RACI Matrix:

RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrix is nothing but a method of nominating each task to the members of the project and so that each of the functions can be done without any repetition.

In a RACI Matrix table, left side column consists of the specified tasks, and the top row includes the team member names. The intersection cells have the letter (R, A, C, I) corresponding to what a team member will handle within the assignment. This matrix enables you to recognize the gaps in the team structure and which roles you need to fill.



This methodology is simple, comprehensive, gives quick impact, and can be universally applied in areas such as production, office, and information systems.

Sort – Listing out the tasks in order of high importance to least importance and handle them accordingly.

Straighten – Arrange the items/tasks in such a way that minimizes travel/search wastes for the quick and simple flow of the items to be picked or tasks to be completed first.

Shine – It is the stage where you need to keep the work area intensively clean

Standardize – You can color code, create standard signage format, color scheme, font, and appearance.

Sustain– You should always audit the processes, and there must be controls and measures defined


Cause and Effect Analysis:

This analysis is also known as Fishbone or Ishikawa or X-Y diagram. It is a systematic way to explore different causes leading to an uncertain condition. All the members discuss and analyze the problem condition. The final product of the exercise looks similar to Fishbone.


The steps to perform this analysis are:-

– Brainstorm all potential reasons for the problems. Subject Matter Experts and the Black Belt can expedite the brainstorming.

– You can divide the significant causes under various categories

– While brainstorming, you need to shortlist and prioritize the only potential causes.

– Now you can draw the fishbone diagram after you have prepared the categories

– At last, you can figure out the root causes of the problems.


Mistake Proofing (Poke Yoke):

It is a technique to prevent defects and identify defects as soon as possible. The primary use of this process is to eliminate product defects by preventing unintentional human errors.

These tools will highly support your business improvement process and are used globally in various industries. However, depending upon the industry and situations, you may utilize them to get an error-free and the best output.


Author Bio:

Jane Thomson is a Content Marketing Manager at GreyCampus with five years rich experience on developing content for professional certification courses like PMP- Project Management Professional, PMI-ACP, Six Sigma, Prince2, and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).