Why Design for Six Sigma (DfSS)?

Process improvement strategies such as Six Sigma help to understand and tackle bottlenecks in production (or even logistical, and financial) processes in a structured manner. However, about 75% of production problems can be traced back to bad choices in the design phase. Also, lack of satisfaction is strongly related to misinterpretation – or even no identification - of customer needs. Design for Six Sigma (DfSS) is a powerful tool for developing new products. Therefore, DfSS is the Six Sigma approach for reasearch and development projects: DfSS allows design teams to predict product performance, defect rates, and customer satisfaction before the product is launched. DfSS uses advanced (statistical) tools to obtain the needs of customers, and derive engineering system parameter requirements that increase product and service effectiveness.


How to implement DfSS?

Implementation of DfSS consists of the following steps:

  1. Identify scope of the program (process versus service/product design).
  2. Assess potential impact of DfSS on the organization (type of involvement necessary).
  3. Decide on the implementation approach (scaled or full; marketing to be part of the initial program or phased in later).
  4. Establish steering board for the implementation (by business sector).
  5. Train program Champions, project sponsors, Belts and project teams.
  6. Coach Belts, teams and project sponsors through the successful completion of their first projects.


What are the pitfalls when implementing DfSS?

  • If you decide to implement DfSS, do not get carried away trying to re-build your product development process to match the textbook DfSS roadmap. Instead, make the DfSS method fit your process.
  • Practitioners need to be aware that even the best statistical model is an approximation to reality.
  • It is natural to consider yourself or your organization to be unique — so unique that you may even think that what has worked for others could not possibly work for you. However, DfSS has proven itself in many research and development companies where it has been applied. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you are the lone exception to the rule.
  • Training and certification are important aspects of an overall deployment effort because they build competency within the organization. But sometimes teams are more focused on training and certification goals, and fail to support project execution. Without adequate mentoring and coaching support after their initial training, Belts may select projects simply to meet the certification targets or projects may be inordinately delayed.
  • Support and commitment for a DfSS deployment, from the leadership of an organization, is the key driver for success. Leadership must walk the talk and continuously emphasize the importance of it at all forums. Support should be forthcoming not only from senior leadership, but also from leadership at all levels in the organization.


CQM can help you get the best results!

CQM has built an excellent name with guiding DfSS projects, training, and coaching activities for more than 35 years. If you want to receive more information about CQM’s expertise please contact us. 


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