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 Why Six Sigma Will Outlast Total Quality Management | PM Tools - PM Tools

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Why Six Sigma Will Outlast Total Quality Management

Six Sigma is not just a new term for Total Quality Management
(TQM) . They have many similarities and are compatible in many
business environments. TQM has brought great improvements and
value to many companies. Six Sigma can do more.

TQM is the development, deployment, and maintenance of systems
related to quality-producing business processes. TQM is a
strategic approach that focuses on encouraging a continuous flow
of incremental quality improvements. It encourages the
establishing of a culture of collaboration among different
departments within organization. TQM is mainly a cultural
initiative and a style of management toward increased quality.

Six Sigma is not just another quality initiative or process
improvement program. It is more than that because it is a robust
continuous improvement strategy and process that includes
cultural methodologies such as the various TQM approaches. Six
Sigma is complementary to TQM initiatives such as ISO 9000
registration, which is mainly procedural; Total Quality
Management (TQM), which is mainly cultural, and Statistical
Process Control (SPC), which is primarily statistical process
control monitoring. All of these initiatives attempt to improve
quality levels but typically reach a plateau. The Six Sigma
approach goes to the next level.

Six Sigma is not about quality in the strict traditional sense.
Quality, defined traditionally as conformance to internal
requirements, is not the focus of Six Sigma. True, Six Sigma
focuses on improving quality by helping organizations produce
products and services better, faster and cheaper. However, it
accomplishes that by reducing waste. In traditional terms, Six
Sigma focuses on defect prevention, cycle time reduction, and
cost savings. Six Sigma is about helping the organization make
more money. Unlike cost-cutting programs that reduce value and
quality, Six Sigma identifies and eliminates costs that provide
no value to customers: the costs incurred due to waste.

The focus of TQM initiatives differs from the focus of Six Sigma
programs. One, TQM programs focus on improvement in individual
operations with unrelated processes. Six Sigma focuses on making
improvements in all operations within a process. Two, Six Sigma
involves dedicated, full-time resources–the “black belts”­
–versus TQM, which is usually a part-time activity of
non-dedicated managers.

The breadth and depth and the precision of Six Sigma and TQM
also differ. Six Sigma has a well-defined project charter that
outlines the scope of a project, financial targets, anticipated
benefits, milestones, etc. It’s based on hard financial data and
savings. In TQM, organizations go into a project without fully
knowing what the financial gains might be. Six Sigma has a solid
control phase (DMAIC – Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control)
that makes specific measurements, identifies specific problems,
and provides specific solutions that can be measured.

How else is Six Sigma different? Six Sigma is:

* Fact based and data driven

* Results-oriented, providing quantifiable and measurable
bottom-line results

* A leader-sponsored top-down approach

* Linked to strategy

* Thinking about customer requirements

* Applicable to all business processes – administrative, sales,
marketing, R&D, etc.

Six Sigma is a robust continuous improvement strategy and
process that includes cultural methodologies such as Total
Quality Management (TQM), process control strategies such as
Statistical Process Control (SPC) and other important
statistical tools. Six Sigma tools and techniques all are found
in total quality management. Six Sigma is the application of the
tools on selected important projects at the appropriate time.
Six Sigma tools and techniques all are found in TQM. When done
correctly, Six Sigma becomes a way toward organization and
cultural development. Yet, it is more than a set of tools! Six
Sigma is the strategic and systematic application of the tools
on targeted important projects at the appropriate time. Because
Six Sigma incorporates TQM but goes beyond it, it will outlast

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