The Six Sigma expert uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to drive process improvement. Although the tools, themselves, are not unique, the way they are applied and integrated as part of a system is.
Six Sigma professionals do not always agree as to exactly which tools constitute the set. Some of the statistical and graphical tools commonly used in improvement projects are listed below.
Defining a problem, improvement opportunity, or requirements:
- Project charter to define the focus, scope, direction, and motivation for the improvement team
- Voice of the customer to understand feedback from current and future customers indicating offerings that satisfy, delight, and dissatisfy them
- Value stream map to provide an overview of an entire process, starting and finishing at the customer, and analyzing what is required to meet customer needs
Measuring process performance:
Analyzing processes to determine root causes of variation, defects, or poor performance:
Improving process performance by addressing root causes:
- Design of experiments (DOE) to solve problems from complex processes or systems where there are many factors influencing the outcome and where it is impossible to isolate one factor or variable from the others
- Kaizen event to introduce rapid change by focusing on a narrow project and using the ideas and motivation of the people who do the work
Controlling the improved process and future performance:
Additionally, Six Sigma team leaders often use project management tools such as Gantt charts and team engagement tools like brainstorming and nominal group technique.
More Perspectives on the Six Sigma Toolkit
Light Bulb Moment (open access)
Consider the define-measure-analyze-improve-control (DMAIC) roadmap and maximize quality tools along the improvement journey.
A Webcast Overview of the Seven Lean Six Sigma Tools (ASQ members only)
The installments in this series provide an overview of seven common Lean Six Sigma tools: 5S system, seven wastes, value stream mapping, kaizen, flow, visual workspace, and voice of the customer.
Which Control Chart Should You Use? (members only)
While control charts can be effective for evaluating performance and improvement in a Six Sigma project, project managers should carefully evaluate different charts available to ensure the selection provides the most useful information for the project.
Six Sigma Case Studies
Read case studies that feature details on the use of quality tools in the context of Six Sigma improvement projects.
Explore the tools that can help you identify causes, understand processes, collect and analyze data, generate ideas, keep projects on track, and make informed decisions for all of your continuous improvement activities.