PurchTips - Edition # 35


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Purchaser's Introduction To Six Sigma

By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

What Is This Six Sigma Thing Anyway?

You've probably heard of Six Sigma. Although it has been in existence for a few decades now, it seems that only in the past five years has Six Sigma been a buzzword. This resource will give you a quick overview of Six Sigma from a purchasing and supply management perspective.

The name "Six Sigma" is derived from the statistical measure of six standard deviations. In statistics, the Greek letter sigma represents a standard deviation.

Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process improvement methodology that focuses on improving both customer satisfaction and profitability through near-perfect quality. In Six Sigma, quality is measured by the ratio of defects per million opportunities, which translates into a Sigma Level (four sigma, five sigma, six sigma, etc.). The goal of Six Sigma is to limit defects to 3.4 per million opportunities.

Process improvement teams, led by highly trained individuals called "black belts," set out to achieve Six Sigma quality standards using an approach labeled DMAIC. DMAIC is an acronym describing a series of steps that Defines a process, Measures the current performance of the process, Analyzes the causes of defects in the process, Improves the process, and establishes means of Control for the process so that improvements can be sustained.

The DMAIC steps emphasize the use of tools such as process maps, charts, matrices, and so forth to understand a process and evaluate quantified effects of the process using metrics (statistical measurements).

As a purchaser, you can use the Six Sigma methodology in a variety of ways. You can apply the Six Sigma approach in working with a supplier to improve the quality of parts that the supplier provides to you. You can apply the Six Sigma approach to minimize the number of invoice discrepancies that your organization has to handle. You can use Six Sigma to improve almost any purchasing process that has inefficiencies that cost your organization money.

Do You Want a More Rewarding Procurement Career?

Are you tired of not getting enough opportunities, respect, and money out of your procurement career? Well, guess what? Nothing will change unless you take action towards becoming a world-class procurement professional.

Earning your SPSM® Certification is the action to take if you want to bring the most modern procurement practices into your organization and achieve your career potential. Download the SPSM Certification Guide today to learn how to get started on your journey to a more rewarding procurement career!


Need Better Performance From Your Procurement Team?

Are you a procurement leader whose team isn't achieving the results you know are possible? Maybe it's not enough cost savings. Or frustrating performance from the supply base. Or dissatisfied internal customers.

You need a performance improvement plan that's easy to implement and quick to produce results. The NLPA can help.

Download our whitepaper "The Procurement Leader's Guide To A More Successful Team." You'll learn the 7 steps for transforming your staff into a results-producing, world-class procurement team.


Are You Getting The Most Out of Your NLPA Membership?

Members of the NLPA get more than just articles like this by email. As a member, you also get access to:

  • The Procurement Training & Certification Starter Kit
  • The latest Purchasing & Supply Management Salaries Report
  • Leading-Edge Supply Management™ magazine
  • Members-only webinars 10x per year
  • And more!

If you haven't been taking advantage of these benefits, why not log in and start now?