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The TQM Magazine

Integrating six sigma with quality management systems


Tilo Pfeifer Wolf Reissiger Claudia Canales

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Tilo Pfeifer Wolf Reissiger Claudia Canales, (2004),"Integrating six sigma with quality management systems", The TQM
Magazine, Vol. 16 Iss 4 pp. 241 - 249
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Integrating six sigma


with quality management
systems

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Tilo Pfeifer
Wolf Reissiger and
Claudia Canales

The authors
Tilo Pfeifer is a Professor, and Wolf Reissiger and
Claudia Canales are scientific assistants, at the Chair of
Metrology and Quality Management, Laboratory for Machine
Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) at RWTH Aachen,
Aachen, Germany.

Keywords
Quality programmes, ISO 9000 series, Quality management,
Cross-functional integration

Abstract
The six sigma concept gains more and more importance because
of its successful implementation in many European companies. It
can be assumed that it will also play a role for small and medium
enterprises as a competitive criteria in the future. Approaches
are to be found in order to implement six sigma even in
companies with low financial and personal capacities. Six sigma
should be integrated with established quality concepts whereby
quality management systems are the most disseminated
approaches. The challenge is to combine conveniently aspects of
both approaches in order to reach a maximum benefit through a
targeted application. The optimal exploitation of improvement
potentials and an efficient provision of resources are important
prerequisites for this purpose. This paper shows important
aspects in order to meet these prerequisites.

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The TQM Magazine


Volume 16 Number 4 2004 pp. 241-249
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited ISSN 0954-478X
DOI 10.1108/09544780410541891

Introduction
In the last ten years, six sigma has written an
incomparable success story. Six sigma was
especially publicized by Jack Welch, who has
established it successfully since 1995 as CEO of
General Electric. According to one of the last
annual reports, more than a billion dollars were
spent in the necessary project resources, as well as
in the advanced training of employees in the last
years. Nevertheless, an enormous profit in the
billion dollar range could be achieved annually
(Topfer, 2002). The numerous publications of this
success story have set the basis for the success of
six sigma. This success has motivated many
well-known organisations throughout Europe,
such as Siemens, Nokia, Volvo, Deutsche
Telekom, Ford, etc. to deal with six sigma.
If you ask users what six sigma means, you will
find different opinions. Successful users often
consider six sigma as the modern form of quality
management. Our experience shows that many of
the traditional tasks of quality management are
displaced by these users directly in the line of
business processes.
Consequently, the tasks of quality management
as a staff department change: in a case of a general
establishment of Six sigma in organisations,
quality managers would assume the task of a
controller for the fulfilment of customer
requirements and the execution of improvement
actions. Furthermore, they would organize
training programs for employees (Weigang, 2003).
Traditionally oriented users of quality concepts
consider six sigma mainly as a tool which might
complement the existing approaches, in spite of
our experience that shows that the demand of
consulting services for six sigma is considerably
higher than for traditional approaches of quality
management. The high expenditures for employee
qualification as well as a large amount of human
resources required for the implementation are
willingly accepted due to the hugely successful
experiences of several OEMs (original equipment
manufacturers).
If OEMs demand their suppliers develop and
manufacture their products according to the six
sigma scale, then also small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) will have to find a way to
implement it, in spite of their limited financial
resources (Topfer and Gunther, 2003a, b).
In the past, many of these enterprises decided to
implement quality management systems (QMS) in
order to ensure their process and product quality.
Therefore in these organisations often exists knowhow on the use of quality management methods.
Different quality management standards such as
the ISO/TS 16949 explicitly require the

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Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

application of quality management methods such


as FMEA (failure mode and effect analysis).
According to this the future challenges for the
implementation of six sigma will be the link of six
sigma with the existing approaches of quality
management and a smart qualification which is
oriented at the existing knowledge in the
organisations.
In order to demonstrate the call for action for
linking the approaches of six sigma and QMS, the
strengths and weaknesses of each approach are
presented. Subsequently, this paper will analyse
how the concepts of six sigma and QMS can be
conveniently combined.
Within this context, the approaches to
implement six sigma as efficiently as possible
against the background of often limited financial
and personal resources in small and medium
enterprises, will also be discussed.

solving within the framework of continuous


improvement (Pyzdek, 2001). Because of the fact
that this is mainly a model of explanation than a
guideline for a continuous improvement process,
the defined project management approaches in the
context of six sigma are more structured.
Two approaches for six sigma projects can be
differentiated: the DMAIC (define-measureanalyse-improve-control) and the DMADV
(design-measure-analyse-design-verify). The
DMAIC approach is applied in the context of the
realisation of products and services (core and
support processes). Different approaches for the
planning and the development of products and
processes exist, but the DMADV-approach is the
most popular one in literature. The six sigma
projects in development are commonly called
design-for-six-sigma (Harry and Schroder, 2000;
Topfer and Gunther, 2003a).
Six sigma provides different methods and tools
from two fields:
(1) Statistics (such as methods of statistical
analysis or the tools of Design of Experiments).
(2) Quality management (i.e. for ensuring
customer orientation in the product
development and failure prevention).

Aspects and success factors of six sigma


The basis for six sigma is the sigma level, which is
described in numerous publications. The sigma
level is a benchmark for the ability of a process to
accomplish the demanded requirements.
From the statistical basis, the strategy for six
sigma initiatives can be derived so that all products
and processes reach this high quality level. By
raising the fulfilment of customer requirements, a
detectable monetary benefit in a manageable time
frame should be achieved. Thus, there should be
adequate, predetermined organisational
structures, proceedings and tools in order to realise
this strategy (Magnusson et al., 2001).
A prerequisite for the realisation of six sigma
projects is the establishment of a special six sigma
organisational structure. On the one hand, this
supports the definition of program objectives on
the management level. On the other hand, this
organisational structure helps accomplish the
project objectives by engaging well-qualified
employees (master black belts, black belts, green
belts) on the operational level. They ensure the
quality of the processes for which they are
responsible. The consequential pursuit of project
objectives is guaranteed by a top-down-bottom-up
approach realised by the six sigma organisational
structure. Thus Pande interprets six sigma also as
an integral approach to run the business (Harry
and Schroder, 2000; Pande et al., 2000).
Six sigma offers project management
approaches for project implementation, which
place consequently the increase of the customer
benefits into the center of consideration. The
approaches lean on the Deming-cycle, which is an
established simple model for learning and problem

Several alternative methods are available and


applicable within these areas. In order to run a
project successfully it is often sufficient to posses
an analytical background and to use only part of
the available methods. Particularly the wise
application of statistical techniques can be
accomplished through the use of statistical analysis
software (Breyfogle et al., 2001).
Thus, six sigma is, from our point of view, a
quality concept, Magnusson calls it an entire
business concept (Magnusson et al., 2001). Its
effectiveness results from the interrelation of the
described strategy, the organisational structure,
the procedures, the tools and the methods. Success
factors and benefits of six sigma are (Pande et al.,
2000; George, 2002):
.
customer focus for project choice;
.
project feasibility of the projects in a limited
timeframe;
.
evaluation of resp. of profitability;
.
consequent agreement on objectives and
controlling of results;
.
focus on the essential business processes;
.
application of an approved toolset; and
.
consequent enabling of employees and
provision of resources.

Limitations of six sigma


The quality of business processes before the start
of a project has to be taken into consideration for

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Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

evaluating the success of six sigma initiatives. If


they provide a high improvement potential,
considerable savings can normally be realised with
low expenditures (Harry and Schroder, 2000).
Compared to the USA, European organisations
have to undergo significantly higher personnel
costs, waste disposal and energy, so that their
processes have often already been optimised for
years (McElhiney, 2002). For these mature
enterprises, the project focuses on the
maximisation of the customer satisfaction by
innovations and development of excellent
products. These kinds of projects naturally require
high standards and costs (Pyzdek, 2001).
This has also to be considered in the
determination of the project duration. Because of
the fact that a systematic maximisation of
customer satisfaction can only be reached by
complex and long-term development projects, it is
necessary to have a long breath for the
assessment of the results (Tennant, 2002; Schurr,
2002).
The success of improvement projects is based,
on the one hand, on the reduction of failures and,
on the other hand, on a large increase of process
efficiency and productivity by reducing reactive
performance. Furthermore it is aspired to reach a
higher customer satisfaction in development
projects by increasing the fulfilment of customer
requirements (Pyzdek, 2001; George, 2002).
When using standards for defining and
evaluating projects, it has to be taken into
consideration, that it is not possible to evaluate all
projects considering monetary measures with a
maintainable effort. For instance, purchase
decisions are not only influenced by the fulfilment
of customer requirements, but also by many other
external factors, which are difficult to estimate
(Homburg and Bruhn, 1998).
Furthermore the sigma level can only be
acquired for the determination and evaluation of
operational process objectives, if failures can
explicitly be displayed and the empirical database
is big enough for a random sample. This is, for
instance, often not the case in external market
surveys used for determining customer
satisfaction.
However, the strategic objective of six sigma
the achievement of high quality levels is not
questioned by this restriction in any way. It is much
more important to find optimal standards that
allow the project success evaluation in a realistic
and efficient way.
For example, approaches of total quality
management like the EFQM model or of quality
controlling such as the Balanced Scorecard,
support the determination of the objectives, which
are essential for organisations. They further

support the assessment of the achievement of


objectives. The Balanced Scorecard provides a
balanced consideration of monetary and nonmonetary objectives. The objectives can be linked
with each other by using Cause and Impact
Chains, which support deducing objectives from
the management to the operational level (Kaplan
and Norton, 1997).
Because of the fact that six sigma only focuses
on a determined quality strategy and a continuous
improvement process, it is useful to integrate other
already existing approaches of an enterprise, resp.
to implement them simultaneously, i.e. EFQM
Model and Balanced Scorecard for the definition
of objectives (Schmutte, 2003). A survey
documents, that the integration of six sigma in
existing management systems, is one of the most
important success factors for German enterprises
(Schmieder, 2003).
QMS belong to the most disseminated
approaches. For the implementation of such
systems it is necessary to identify the business
processes at the beginning. Six sigma also requires
the creation of a process model previous to the
beginning of a project and provides for this
purpose an approach called SIPOC (supplierinput-process-output-customer). This model is
used to visualise and optimise processes (Hammer,
2002).
Before the potential for an effective integration
of both approaches is discussed, the quality
management system approach will be described in
the next section.

Aspects and success factors of quality


management systems
Quality management systems help to enhance
product quality, providing organisations with
means to achieve higher quality processes. As a
direct consequence of this, customer satisfaction
will be improved (Pfeifer, 2002a).
The development of QMS should be supported
by the use of standards. Standards do not describe
a QMS, but formulate requirements which have to
be fulfilled by the processes (Pfeifer, 2002a).
By far the most popular and world-wide known
standards of QMS are the standards of the ISO
9000 family. By the end of 2001, at least 510,616
ISO certificates had been awarded in 161 countries
(International Organization for Standardization,
2002). One of the reasons for this dissemination is
that ISO 9000 standards apply uniformly to
organisations of any size or description.
The ISO 9000 family of standards, published
originally in 1987, was revised in 1994 and last
time in December 2000. The revised ISO

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Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

9000:2000 is based on eight quality management


principles (ISO 9000, 2000; International
Organization for Standardization, 2002; Topfer
and Gunther, 2003b; Dey, 2002), which will be
described next.

In contrast to the old version, the objective of


the 2000 version is to describe a process-based
quality management system, which is applicable to
organisations of all types and sizes. The basis for an
implementation is provided by a process model,
which represents and structures all relevant
elements of a quality management system. This
model describes a control loop, which aims at the
enhancement of customer satisfaction. Starting
from the customer requirements, the top
management (management responsibility) has
to ensure that the required resources (resource
management) for the product realization are
available. Finally, the organisations output
(product or services) will be evaluated and, if
necessary, actions for continuous improvement
will be deduced (Pfeifer, 2002a).
This process model of ISO 9000:2000 is used as
a basis in many branch-specific standards as, e.g.
ISO/TS 16949:2002 in the automotive industry or
TL 9001 for telecommunications.
The process documentation and the
deployment of regulations, which help to steer and
improve the processes, encourage the transparency
of the organisations activities.
For the illustration of business processes,
process maps can be used. They graphically
represent the interrelation between different
business processes. Processes can be classified into
management, core and support processes in this
context (Pfeifer, 2002a).
A systematic process definition is not defined in
the standards, therefore approaches of process
oriented quality management describe detailed
proceedings (Pfeifer, 2002a). Six sigma also offers
such a process definition approach called SIPOC
(supplier-input-process-output-customer).
The standards require that appropriate
indicators should be formulated for all processes.
These have to be measured and evaluated
periodically (measurement, analysis and
improvement).
The methodology known as Deming cycle or
PDCA (plan-do-check-act), which has been
mentioned before, can be applied to all processes
(ISO 9000, 2000).

Principle 1: customer focus


The new version of the ISO 9000 family attributes
much importance to customer satisfaction as a
relevant aspect for organisations success. In order
to achieve customer satisfaction, organisations
have to identify the customer requirements. Both
aspects are explicitly displayed in the process
model of the new version.
The term customers is not only to be
understood as the buyers of the products, but also
includes additional interested parties such as own
employees, suppliers, the society, etc. In the six
sigma approach the customer focus is also
considered as a prerequisite for organisations
success.
Principle 2: leadership
On the one hand, leadership is responsible for the
proper definition and communication of the
organisations objectives. Further approaches are
not given by the standards, but instead,
instruments such as the already mentioned
Balanced Scorecard can be used.
On the other hand, leadership has to create and
maintain an internal environment, in which people
can develop further. For this purpose the six sigma
organisational structure can be applied.
Principle 3: involvement of people
The standards recognise that appropriate
employee qualification, as well as their motivation
are indispensable for the organisations success.
However the standards does not specify in detail
how this can be done.
A major benefit of ISO 9000 is that the
processes and procedures required by the standard
are developed internally by those who are
implementing them (Poksinska et al., 2002).
Principle 4: process approach
Due to the process focus, processes are
systematically described, inputs and outputs are
defined and several responsibilities throughout the
processes are determined.
This aspect represents almost the largest
difference between the 1994 and the 2000
versions. The 1994 version placed emphasis only
on the elements of the organisational structure. A
quality management system, according to this
version, is often function-oriented.

Principle 5: system approach to management


The structured description of processes as an
entire system helps management to understand
their interrelation and to steer them adequately.
According to this, QMS can be used as a
management instrument to support decision
making.
Principle 6: continual improvement
Organisations are requested to measure and
analyse the quality of their products and processes

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Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

as well as customer satisfaction and if necessary to


improve them.
A possibility to detect improvement potentials
and to check the implemented actions is offered by
the audits described in the standard.
System audits assess the effectiveness of QMS
and should be conducted annually at least. Process
audits are applied to verify the effectiveness of
processes. They should take place regularly, but
there arent defined any specifications about the
timeframe. The interval should be selected
considering the importance and the failureproneness of the processes.

Critics of the ISO 9000 were sure that it would


only create unnecessary paper work (Douglas et al.,
2003; Poksinska et al., 2002). The standard is
highly documentation-driven and requires that all
documentation be updated to reflect any system
change. These documentation requirements often
exceed the documentation practices prior to
certification (Poksinska et al., 2002; Dziwetzki,
2004).
The establishment and maintenance of a
documented QMS can be a costly and timeconsuming undertaking. There is scarcity of
empirical data on how much it actually costs to
both implement and maintain a QMS (Douglas
et al., 2003).
Quality management systems facilitate the
systematic analysis and the graphical
representation of processes and thus the
distinctness of organisational structures. But
processes are frequently only described without
looking for optimisation potentials. Besides, the
processes are described statically (Pfeifer, 2002b),
while they should adjust to changing conditions in
practice. This can lead to the situation that after a
while the described processes do not represent the
reality anymore and become obsolete, so that the
system does not bring any benefit for the
organisation.
Therefore a continuous process improvement is
necessary which cannot only be managed with
internal audits. Also the audits have some flaws.
There is a lack of available literature or standards
on the effectiveness of QMS audits. The ISO
19011 (2002) for QMS auditing does not even
explicitly mention audit effectiveness or quality
assurance of audits (Beckmerhagen et al.,
2004).The standard doesnt provide any
proceedings on how to break down organisation
objectives to the operational level and how to
achieve management by objectives.
Customer focus has a higher significance in the
new version of the standard, but proceedings to
enhance customer satisfaction are also not
described.
The standard gives a good overview of all
processes that should be considered in an
organisation (horizontal process level). The
standard is kept generic and not industry-specific
(Douglas et al., 2003), so that it can be applied in
organisations of all types and sizes without
restricting them with too many guidelines. It
provides neither proceedings nor convenient
instruments for supporting operationally the
improvement of quality, as needed to optimise
single process steps in the vertical process level.
Summarising the last points, we can say that a
big flaw of the standard is the omission of
methodological assistance (Topfer and Gunther,

Principle 7: factual approach to decision


making
The management needs relevant information to
make decisions. This information has to be
available and prepared in an appropriate form. For
this purpose, controlling attempts can be applied.
Principle 8: mutually beneficial supplier
relationships
The trust in suppliers can be supported through
their quality activities and objectives which are
described and structured in their QMS.
Certified QMS serve as an evidence for stable
and capable processes in customer-supplier
relationships. This evidence supersedes extensive
supplier audits done by customers.
In addition, the fulfilment of due diligence can
be attested by a certified quality management
system. This offers a discharge in context of the
European product liability law.

Limitations of quality management


systems
As already described, QMS especially encourage a
systematic analysis and mapping of processes. This
facilitates the comprehensibility of organisational
structures. Thus potentials for an optimisation and
corresponding quality objectives can be deduced.
However, not all quality relevant problems can be
solved using QMS.
A survey from Fraunhofer-Institute for
Production Technology (IPT) (Pfeifer, 2002b)
dealt with the quality by German manufacturers.
In total, 423 enterprises took part in the enquiry.
An analysis of disadvantages of quality
management systems shows the following points:
.
high documentation and administration
effort;
.
costs;
.
time effort; and
.
fixed system.

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Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

2003b). Methods like FMEA (Dziwetzki, 2004) or


statistical methods are only partially known and
rarely applied. Generally the standard doesnt
explicitly mention any method. Six sigma offers for
the elimination of these deficiencies adequate
instruments and methods.
The differences between the approaches are
shown in Table I.

Identification of improvement areas


Six sigma offers an objective-oriented approach for
the identification of projects, which promise a high
financial success. On the other side, the
application of QMS process audits permits a
continuous and systematic search for all existing
improvement potentials in the organisation.
Thus, it makes sense to apply these two different
approaches simultaneously: the search for the most
profitable projects carried by the project officers
(black belts) and the continuous and systematic
determination of improvement potentials by the
process owners (green belts). The continuous
matching of the improvement areas detected with
both approaches supports the project definition and
helps to optimise project objectives. In keeping with
this, particular dates for the objective definition and
for the process audits in the related divisions have to
be arranged and scheduled together.

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Systematic integration
In order to reach an effective integration of the six
sigma and quality management system approaches
(see Figure 1) it has to be determined:
.
which benefits QMS can provide as
information source; and
.
which benefits can be realised through the
documentation of six sigma approaches and
results.

Process analysis
Especially in the course of complex projects, all
relevant processes have first to be determined and
their interactions have to be analysed. Six sigma
demands therefore the SIPOC-model as described
before (Hammer, 2002).
In this context, previously documented business
processes in QMS often provide the required
input. The mentioned process maps offer an
analytic framework in order to show the
interactions of processes.

Conformance between project and process


objectives
In the Define phase of six sigma projects it has to
be aspired, that project and process concur in
objectives as much as possible. However this is
difficult to reach in large projects, because of
complex interactions between involved processes.
After identifying the involved processes using
process maps, the process objectives described in
QMS can be compared with the planned six sigma
project objectives. Thus the impact of
modifications in interrelated processes, i.e.
between production and logistic processes can be

Table I Comparison of six sigma and quality management systems


Six sigma

Quality management systems

Objective

Monetary benefit through customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction through high quality


products

Strategy

High quality level/low failure rates in all business


processes

Arranging business processes according to


requirements of standards

Management

Commitment and clear objectives for projects,


creating an organisational structure which pursues
the objectives

Listing of management responsibilities

Organisation

Process owner (green belts); project officer (black


belts)

Process owner; management representative


(responsible for QMS)

Regarded resources

Required resources for projects (basically human


resources)

Human resources, infrastructure and work


environment

Training

In all areas of an organisation, different levels of


qualification dependant on the function in
processes

Required, but not specified

Project management

DMAIC/DMADV (continuous improvement


approach)

PDCA (model for continuous improvement,


voluntary)

Process approach

SIPOC (approach for describing single processes)

Model of a process-based QMS

Methods

Specified toolbox

No specification

Documentation

No specification

Listing of requirements

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Figure 1 Integration of six sigma and QMS

clearly identified. The financial impact of


modifications can be forecasted for example by
applying process cost calculation.
As a rule, a total optimum has to be found which
fulfils all objectives as best as possible. This
represents an important requirement for the
acceptance and sustainable success of the six sigma
concept in the organisation.
Choice of project participants
The participants required for a six sigma project
have to be chosen by examining the related
processes. Departments involved, as well as their
functions and responsibilities in the processes, are
already specified in the QMS documentation. The
required knowledge, which individual participants
need to fulfil the demands of the project, can be
estimated by regarding the definitions in the
system as well as specific project tasks.
Comparing the required knowledge with
available qualification of different employees, the
most capable participants for accomplishing the
project tasks can be systematically acquired. For
the assortment of employees, tools such as a
qualification matrix can support the decision
making.
The decision for the implementation of a
project should be at an early stage. This provides
enough time for an objective-oriented qualification
of the project members and offers a great chance
for the organisation. The employees can be
optimally qualified for their tasks in six sigma
projects with a minimum of expenditures.
Planning of project resources
In order to assure the availability of organisational
preconditions for six sigma projects in all areas of the
organisation, a consistent proceeding for the planning
of resources should be defined. This affects primarily
the choice of employees and their advanced training.

Employees further have to be exempted (partially or


completely) from other operational tasks and thus
have time for the project execution. It should be
defined which position in the organisational structure
project members have during and after their
engagement in six sigma projects.
Standardisation of project evaluation
measures
A consistent proceeding for the definition of
project objectives and their controlling should be
established for the steering of the projects. This
enables the enterprise always to apply similar
standards for the evaluation of six sigma projects.
This concerns, on the one hand, the evaluation
of monetary results, where it has to be assured that
the financial impacts are considered in all
dependent processes. On the other hand, it has to
be defined how to handle results that can not or
only conditionally be evaluated in monetary scales,
such as changes in customer satisfaction or the
impact of complaints.
Further on a decision has to be made, about
under which conditions and which processes the
determination of the sigma level is suitable for the
definition of operational project objectives.
According to this, alternative proceedings have to
be defined.
A consistent proceeding for the definition of
objectives and their evaluation is particularly
important for the implementation phase of six
sigma programs, if enterprises have to decide
about the broad adoption and the extent of a
program. Where required, the results have to be
evaluated in relation to other quality initiatives
established in the organisation.
Documentation of results
The project results have to be systematically
documented in order to assure their availability in

247

Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

the whole organisation for further projects. QMS


offer well-structured facilities for the
documentation of process-related results. These
can be documented and visualised, i.e. as process
flowcharts, system procedures, working
instructions, systems of precepts or lessons learned
listings. This encourages also the acceptance of
QMS and its continuous updates because of its
rising importance for the operative work (Douglas
et al., 2003).

(DoE). On the other hand, many support or


service processes can be improved by applying only
a few methodical approaches. These different
requirements should also be considered for the
qualification of black and green belts.
After specifying the tasks to be done in six sigma
projects, these tasks have to be assigned to the
functions in the related processes, which are
already documented in QMS. As mentioned
before, the chosen participants will be task-specific
qualified.
If the function-specific qualifications of
participants are described and actualized in the
QMS process documentation, the required
know-how has to be completed just before the
beginning of new projects.
By using these advantages of existing QMS
documentation, six sigma can also be implemented
successfully in small and medium enterprises with
limited personnel and financial resources.

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Chances of an objective-oriented
qualification
A company-wide implementation of six sigma
often implies very cost intensive expenditures for
employee qualification. Therefore, it has to be
analysed, to which degree the personnel should be
qualified.
Due to the multitude and the complexity of
possible method combinations, the optimal choice
of six sigma methods requires a lot of experience.
The trainings should therefore focus on the
qualification of selected experts (black belts), who
guide the projects methodologically.
The comparison between different also
traditional training concepts shows that many
methods are already known in organisations. In the
training programs of the German Society for
Quality (DGQ) it is stated, that the scale of the
training and the contents of traditional concepts,
which are fitted to the requirements of
development engineers, correspond to 80 per cent
with the six sigma black belt training. There exists
also an overlapping between the quality
certification of the American Society for Quality
(ASQ) and six sigma designations of black belts
and master black belts (Munro, 2000). Thus it can
be assumed that experts are already available at
many organizations and their knowledge just has to
be complemented.
According to this, the qualification of the
process owners (green belts) could be maintained
as low as possible. As mentioned before, their
qualification should lay an emphasis on the
identification of improvement potentials during
process audits and basic skills for project
participation. The project realisation would
consequently take place under further instructions
of the project officers (black belts) according to the
principle learning by doing.
Against this background, it is essential to
identify the necessary qualifications in order to run
projects in different kinds of business processes.
The development of products and production
technologies requires extensive methods of
statistical analysis and design of experiments

Conclusion
In comparison with traditional approaches of
quality management, six sigma is the most effective
concept because of the interrelation between its
strategy, organisational structures, procedures,
tools and methods. Because of different maturity
and objectives of organisations, the concept has to
be adapted to the individual call for action. Main
challenges for a successful implementation of six
sigma are the smart integration in existing
management systems and an efficient qualification
program, particularly for small and medium
enterprises.
Quality management systems permit an entire
and coherent overview of the interaction of
processes within an organisation. In the scope of
six sigma projects, single process steps have to be
systematically analysed and improved.
Advantages of the systematic integration of both
approaches are:
.
an effective proceeding to identify the most
relevant improvement areas;
.
the assurance of conform project and process
objectives and thus the sustainability of six
sigma projects;
.
choice of the most capable project participants
and minimization of the qualification effort;
.
the fulfilment of all organisational
requirements for running projects using
standard procedures and measures; and
.
increased availability of project experiences
through well-structured documentation
facilities.

248

Integrating six sigma with quality management systems

The TQM Magazine

Tilo Pfeifer, Wolf Reissiger and Claudia Canales

Volume 16 Number 4 2004 241-249

Thus the main challenges of six sigma will be


supported and the acceptance and benefits of
QMS will increase. The integrated approaches
support an implementation with limited efforts in
small and medium enterprises. The integration of
six sigma with quality management systems is a
further step towards TQM.

Munro, R.A. (2000), Linking six sigma with QS 9000. Auto


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Pande, P.S., Neuman, R.P. and Cavanagh, R.R. (2000), The Six
Sigma Way How GE, Motorola and Other Top Companies
are Honing Their Performance, McGraw-Hill, New York,
NY.
Pfeifer, T. (2002a), Quality Management Strategies, Methods,
Techniques, Hanser, Munchen.
Pfeifer, T. (2002b), Qualitat in produzierenden Unternehmen
2002 Eine Untersuchung zum Zusammenhang zwischen
Unternehmenserfolg und Qualitatsmanagement,
Fraunhofer Institut fur Produktionstechnologie, Aachen.
Poksinska, B., Dahlgaard, J.J. and Antoni, M. (2002), The state
of ISO 9000 certification: a study of Swedish
organizations, The TQM Magazine, Vol. 14 No. 5,
pp. 297-306.
Pyzdek, T. (2001), The Six Sigma Handbook A Complete Guide
for Greenbelts, Blackbelts and Managers at All Levels,
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Schmieder, M. (2003), Vorsichtige Annaherung Anwendung
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Topfer, A. (Ed.), Business Excellence. Wie Sie
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Erfolgsbeispiele, Springer, Berlin.
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