At the risk of confusing you, let me say that “implementing Six Sigma” is merely the use of well-accepted Quality tools. The simple fact is you have to make a determination FIRST of the business objectives of your organization, THEN create a plan that will help you achieve those objectives.
Here’s some “alphabet soup” which may help you, put in plain English.
FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) -
You look at your processes and determine what could go wrong to cause a nonconforming product or service.
Once you have a list of what could go wrong, you determine the “probability” of it going wrong (how frequently.)
Next you determine the damage or “effect” the nonconformance will have on the product or service (severity.)
You can either go by “numbers” or “gut instinct” to determine the points in your process which should get priority treatment in preventive action or mistake proofing.
DMAIC - (DMAIC is an acronym for five interconnected phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.)
The DMAIC process is the heart of Six Sigma. DMAIC refers to a data-driven quality strategy for improving processes, and is an integral part of the company’s Six Sigma Quality Initiative.
DOE (Design of Experiments)
This is a topic which probably not applicable to giant products or projects like hydroelectric generating dams. Google the term to see if it may be applicable to your operation and come back to us with questions.
PDCA (Plan Do Check Act)
This is the “grandfather” of the SS DMAIC. Many folks would agree it is all you really need in addition to senior management involvement and agreement on goals. Deming, one of the major Quality gurus, was a great champion of this method. ISO9001:2000 even includes it as part of its suggested methodology for Quality Management Systems.
In my opinion, Six Sigma initiatives are valuable in examining existing processes or methodologies for improvement. Many Six Sigma folks have perverted the concepts of Six Sigma into short term quick “fixes” which often ignore impact on other parts of the organization or its supply chain. For example, a BAD Six Sigma Lean Project will demand JIT (just in time) delivery from suppliers, resulting in a great reduction in inventory holding costs for the buyer, but creating a great inventory holding cost on the supplier when the production time cycle is longer than the JIT window demanded by the buyer.
The smart organization will look at “Six Sigma” as nothing more than a particular aggregation of existing quality tools which may or may not have real value for the organization and its supply chain.
Of all quality tools, my experience tells me that a rigorous FMEA combined with equally rigorous PDCA, injected with creative mistake proofing will deliver valuable results for any organization and the term Six Sigma need never be mentioned.