Six Sigma : a framework for successful implementation in South African firms
Britz, Albertus Gerhardus
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There can be little doubt that Six Sigma is far more than just another novelty concept; in fact, it can be considered as a proven quality philosophy and if applied correctly, ensures a competitive advantage. A rapidly increasing number of firms, from all industries and of all sizes, are now reporting significant savings or returns on their program and training investments, because of the implementation of Six Sigma. This paper investigates the origin, definition, financial benefits and challenges of Six Sigma and its implementation. Certain critical success factors determine the successful implementation of Six Sigma in any firm. Many firms have reported significant benefits as a result of Six Sigma project implementation, though not all are yet success stories. This paper reviews the literature related to the critical success factors for the effective implementation of Six Sigma. This research will provide the useful information for firms, which are willing to implement Six Sigma and help firms avoid the risks during the process of Six Sigma implementation. The primary objective of this exploratory research is to identify the critical success factors required for the successful implementation of Six Sigma. Then, based on the critical success factors identified in literature and the survey, the purpose is to develop and propose an applicable framework for firms to successfully implement Six Sigma. The research is explorative of nature and a survey research design was used with a questionnaire as data-gathering instrument. Descriptive statistics (e.g. means and standard deviations) were used to analyse the data. The results confirmed that the most critical success factors for successful Six Sigma implementation include management commitment, change management, effective communication and alignment. The proposed framework presents six interlinking components of Six Sigma which is dependent on these four critical success factors. Limitations in the research are identified and recommendations for future research are made.