Business Process Management – The Six Sigma Approach

by Peter Peterka

Managing a business entails a wide variety of responsibilities and project managers have to be up to the task. Fortunately, there are Business Process Management technologies in place to help processes run more smoothly. However, Six Sigma does more than just help processes run more smoothly. Six Sigma is a methodology. It allows for continuous improvement of processes, on a project-by-project basis.

Implementing Six Sigma into your business takes a high level of commitment, because it does not go project-to-project. There needs to be 100% commitment from all levels of management, especially upper management. Six Sigma is intended to be a methodology that is implemented throughout the entire organization, and without full support from the very top of the management chain down, the resistance to the change that is inevitable in any organization will triumph and Six Sigma will just be another business management project that had limited success.

What Makes Six Sigma Truly Different

Six Sigma is truly different from the average BPM technology because it is a methodology and a program of mentorship that begins with top management and funnels down to the people who really make things happen in an organization. With the full support of upper management, business managers are able to support their own teams of managers to learn and implement the Six Sigma technology.

There is intensive training involved prior to the deployment of Six Sigma and throughout the process. Six Sigma likens the leaders of the implementation process to the belt levels in martial arts, because to implement Six Sigma properly requires dedication and training to ensure success. Greenbelts are those who have undergone two weeks of training in the Six Sigma methodology. Blackbelts undergo four weeks of training and they are able to oversee the Greenbelts. Then, the Master Blackbelt is highly trained to be the Six Sigma program manager for the entire organization. There is a chain of mentorship from top to bottom that will ensure that the deployment goes smoothly and that there is continued success with the program. In fact, deployment does not even begin until the appropriate people are trained to the Greenbelt level.

The business leaders become the Champions, and are there to support the Master Blackbelts. One key with Six Sigma is that the Champion does not just sit back and take a passive role. They are concerned with how the processes are managed. They are concerned with the method of implementation, not just the end results. And this is how Six Sigma intends it to be. They want to create a BPM that is designed from the needs of the business, by the Champions, based on hard numbers.

Six Sigma Methods

Six Sigma has two unique methods through which their product is deployed. The first one is called DMAIC - Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This is ideal if a business has an undefined problem within existing products, services, or processes. The second is DFSS - Design for Six Sigma. DFSS is still in the developmental stage. The aim of DFSS is to create a new product, service, or process that is defect-free in the eyes of the customer.

An organization determines its objectives in terms of numerical value to the company and then they take this information and the method they have chosen to the training table where the belt trainees will use these to amass knowledge and learn to put these objectives and methods into deployment.


Six Sigma's client list speaks volumes for the effectiveness of the Six Sigma method. These clients include Honeywell, Sears, GE, 3M, Home Depot, the Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Six Sigma is also moving into the public and health care sectors.

Six Sigma is not a company that moves in and takes charge, deploying BPM technology based on what they see as the needs of the business. Instead, they allow the business leaders to tell them what they need Six Sigma to do and they essentially design Six Sigma to tailor fit the needs of their business. Not only do they allow this approach, but they train the business leaders and the staff of the company in the knowledge they need to see what needs to be done. Only then is Six Sigma deployed.

Copyright © Peter Peterka

About the Author

Peter Peterka is President of 6 Sigma us. For additional information on Six Sigma Black Belt or other Six Sigma Online Training contact Peter Peterka.

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