Embedded Six Sigma Experts Vs. Separate Six Sigma Organizations
You've decided to roll out Six Sigma across your organization. How do you deploy your Six Sigma experts? What are the advantages of embedded Six Sigma experts in each department compared to separate Six Sigma organizations within the company?
Separate Six Sigma Organizations
A separate or stand-alone six sigma organization can be part of the quality department or a dedicated core of six sigma experts. When a company has a separate Six Sigma organization within the company, they work on whichever projects and at whatever locations they are assigned.
Companies that set up Six Sigma experts within their own organization garner a number of benefits from this structure as well as take on a few risks.
Advantages of Separate Six Sigma Organizations
- Each Six Sigma expert gains a breadth of experience. Their experience spans multiple product lines and functional areas. This diverse experience creates a cross-pollination of ideas that can lead to significant breakthroughs.
- A small set of Six Sigma Black Belts can service a very large number of projects or products.
- Six Sigma experts can devote themselves to training others, completing advanced training themselves and honing skills.
- Six Sigma experts within a separate organization naturally bring lessons learned from other departments, sites and projects to the next project - without violating company proprietary information agreements.
- It is easier to bring in a Six Sigma expert on overhead to a problem area than it is to find the budget to hire an outside consultant. It is usually cheaper, too, to bring in an internal expert than an external consultant.
Disadvantages of Separate Six Sigma Experts
- Travel costs are high when Six Sigma experts visit different locations, especially for companies with sites dispersed around the country.
- Six Sigma experts who work on an as-needed basis around the company may not be available to troubleshoot operational problems brought on by their recommendations.
- Experts must be brought up to speed on the product or job function while mapping the current state of operations.
- If process improvement efforts hit a point of diminishing returns, the organization may shed six sigma experts as a cost-cutting measure. The expertise, once lost, is difficult to recover. If experts are needed later, the consulting fees are costly.
- When greater credence is given to experts brought in from outside the organization over local talent, employees are reluctant to contribute.
- Six Sigma experts working for a short term can discourage buy-in for long term changes by employees. When the expert is gone, it is more difficult to sustain the gain.
- When a Six Sigma expert is brought in, the focus often shifts to very large projects to justify their presence. A coordinated group of related process changes with the same benefits may be ignored in favor of sweeping changes and serious disruption just because an expert is involved.
Embedded Six Sigma Experts
Embedded Six Sigma experts are embedded in the organization in which they work. Six Sigma experts in this model are local to the operation, continuously present through all phases of a project, and thoroughly familiar with the group they support.
Advantages of Embedded Six Sigma Experts
- Experts are local. Tighter travel budgets do not prevent cost-saving projects from being implemented properly.
- Six Sigma experts are available whenever ideas for projects arise. There is no need to schedule projects upon the availability of experts.
- Embedded Six Sigma experts can listen to a potential project that might not be taken seriously by a manager. This prevents ideas being lost pending management review and approval.
- When work loads are light, Six Sigma experts can focus their time on smaller projects with quick turnaround. The organization gains higher productivity from these individuals as a result.
- Embedded Six Sigma experts can act as local Six Sigma champions within their division or functional area.
Disadvantages of Embedded Six Sigma Experts
- Six Sigma training takes time away from someone's official job duties, if the Six Sigma expert does not work on process improvement initiatives full time.
- If job demands are too high, the individual trained in Six Sigma may not have the time to utilize them. The training costs are then wasted.
- When a Six Sigma expert is part of an organization or division, they can reach a point of diminishing returns with projects within that group. Once this point is reached, they either perform their original job or are loaned out as six sigma experts to other groups.
- Six Sigma experts embedded in an organization without any other type of responsibility may push further quality improvement projects despite diminishing ROI.
- When a manager or team lead is trained in Six Sigma, any changes in process or equipment change can evolve into a Six Sigma project. This is especially true when performance reviews for six sigma trained staff are rated on both their full time jobs and Six Sigma performance. Their basic job is performed but performance can actually be hindered by additional meetings and Six Sigma project management.