ISO publishes Six Sigma performance-improvement methodology

Six Sigma (1) a data-driven method for improving business and quality performance, has been published as a two-part ISO standard.

Six Sigma was originally developed by Motorola in 1986 to ameliorate manufacturing processes with the goal of 99.99966% (2) of products free of defects (i.e., 3.4 errors per million). Today,the methodology is applied in many sectors of activity by organizations large and small for all types of process and services to:

  • Drive process improvement and make statistically based decisions
  • Measure business results with a level of reliance
    Prepare for uncertainty
  • Combine high returns and benefits in the short, medium and long-term
  • Remove waste, defects and errors.

“Six Sigma can be used to effectively address serious chronic business issues,” says Dr. Michèle Boulanger, President of JISC-Statistics and co-chair of the subcommittee that developed the standard, “Organizations can deploy Six Sigma projects to increase customer satisfaction and become more competitive.”

“Although Six Sigma has existed for some time, bringing its best practice together under an ISO standard helps solidify and consolidate the methodology. The ISO brand is respected and recognized worldwide, and thus provides an added layer of confidence. Moreover, publication of Six Sigma methodology in an ISO standard will boost international uptake of the methodology in a coherent form, reduce fragmentation, and provide users with harmonized best practice,” concluded Dr. Boulanger.

Six Sigma projects follow a defined sequence of steps with quantified goals and financial targets (cost reduction and/or profit increase), and rely on statistical tools to deal with uncertainty. Implementation involves the establishment of an infrastructure with specific roles and responsibilities (e.g. black or green belts). The new standard, ISO 13053:2011, Quantitative methods in process improvement – Six Sigma, deals exclusively with the application of Six Sigma to ameliorate existing processes and is published in the following two parts:

  • Part 1: DMAIC methodology, describes the five-phased methodology DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control), and recommends best practice, including on the roles, expertise and training of personnel involved in such projects.
  • Part 2: Tools and techniques, describes tools and techniques, illustrated by factsheets, to be used at each phase of the DMAIC approach.

Both documents can be applied to all sectors and organizations.

  • ISO 13053 Part 1 and Part 2 were compiled by technical committee ISO/TC 69, Applications of statistical methods, subcommittee SC 7, Application of statistical and related techniques for the implementation of Six Sigma.
  • ISO 13053-1:2011, Quantitative methods in process improvement – Six Sigma – Part 1: DMAIC methodology, and ISO 13053-2:2011, Quantitative methods in process improvement – Six Sigma – Part 2: Tools and techniques, is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 124 and 150 Swiss francs respectively through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).

ISO 13053 -1:2011: Quantitative methods in process improvement – Six Sigma – Part 1: DMAIC methodology

ISO 13053-1:2011 describes a methodology for the business improvement methodology known as Six Sigma. The methodology typically comprises five phases: define, measure, analyse, improve and control (DMAIC).

ISO 13053-1:2011 recommends the preferred or best practice for each of the phases of the DMAIC methodology used during the execution of a Six Sigma project. It also recommends how Six Sigma projects should be managed and describes the roles, expertise and training of the personnel involved in such projects. It is applicable to organizations using manufacturing processes as well as service and transactional processes.

ISO 13053-2:2011 Quantitative methods in process improvement — Six Sigma — Part 2: Tools and techniques

ISO 13053-2:2011 describes the tools and techniques, illustrated by factsheets, to be used at each phase of the DMAIC approach.

The methodology set out in ISO 13053-1 is generic and remains independent of any individual industrial or economic sector. This makes the tools and techniques described in ISO 13053-2:2011 applicable to any sector of activity and any size business seeking to gain a competitive advantage.

ISO 18404:2015 Quantitative methods in process improvement — Six Sigma — Competencies for key personnel and their organizations in relation to Six Sigma and Lean implementation

ISO 18404:2015 defines the competencies for the attainment of specific levels of competency with regards to Six Sigma, Lean, and “Lean & Six Sigma” in individuals, e.g. Black Belt, Green Belt and Lean practitioners and their organizations. Yellow Belt is not included in ISO 18404:2015. ISO 18404:2015 excludes Design for Six Sigma.