Six Sigma, E-Commerce Pose New Challenges

Article

Kendall, Jenny; Fulenwider, Donna   (2000, ASQ)  

Quality Progress    Vol. 33    No. 7
QICID: 13933    July 2000    pp. 31-37
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Article Abstract

Companies feel a need to become more flexible and ready to respond to rapid changes due to the growth of e-commerce. Corporate systems for responding to such changes have the same role as that of the central nervous system in the human body. The challenges of the modern business environment require the ability to take purposeful action on the basis of collected information, just as the central nervous system is able to receive information and translate the information into the appropriate action. Organizations must have an active and functional system that receives, organizes, disseminates, and translates data into effective business decisions. There is an information technology dimension to the adoption of systems such as Six Sigma or e-commerce. To ensure that IT infrastructure can handle required data analysis, companies can assess the way IT functions as the central nervous system of their organizations and determine the IT considerations to be addressed when introducing initiatives like Six Sigma. Critical to the success of Six Sigma is the existence of a functioning data warehouse. While the e-business environment may not change basic business processes in fundamental ways, time factors become more important. The volume of data generated by Internet transactions requires a scalable approach and shorter cycle times, but organizational systems must facilitate the intelligent distribution of information and encourage collaboration as well as disseminate it rapidly. For Six Sigma, IT must support data access, statistical methods application, and dissemination of results. Collecting and accessing data represent processes in themselves. A successful firm recognized for its use of Six Sigma delivered Six Sigma quality charts on network availability, performance, utilization, and problem management time-to-restore in a Web-enabled application to its major suppliers and internal customers. All of the charts allow for drilling down in the Web-enabled application. Automation at the control stage provides value for the company by increasing productivity, giving suppliers and customers measurable data to compare service level agreements, helping technicians focus their improvement efforts by offering the right data, allowing a common software interface for distribution, and facilitating use overall for intended customers. To sustain such Six Sigma benefits, entities must be collaborative and linked via their information infrastructures.

Keywords

Data collection,E-commerce,Six Sigma,Information management,Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP)


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