What businesses need to remember is that even though Six Sigma is theoretically foolproof, its eventual success depends on many other factors such as how it is deployed and the type of organizational culture.
The thing that complicates the matter even more is that it takes quite a long time to achieve the desired results. This is the main reason as to why businesses should conduct Six Sigma project appraisals on a regular basis.
Periodic appraisals help businesses to ensure that the project is right track and proceeds just as planned.
Understanding the Appraisal Process
The appraisal system adopted by Six Sigma is same as the process of evaluation adopted during the implementation stage of Six Sigma concepts and methodologies. That’s because, since Six Sigma aims at qualitative improvement, the appraisal process too involves a variety of quality checks of the business processes.
The appraisal process is pretty simple. It works on the basis of checklists and questionnaires, which makes it easier for the Six Sigma appraisers to evaluate the current condition of the process that is prevailing in the company. The appraisers then compare their findings with the standards that were defined before the implementation process. In addition, the Six Sigma appraisal process is quite similar to the quality control tools used by the ISO 9000 certified companies.
Nowadays, it has become pretty common to see Six Sigma organizations using the quality control devices defined by Malcolm Baldrige.
Tools and Techniques Used During Six Sigma Appraisals
During the appraisal process, the main tools that are used are the descriptive charts, which in layman’s terms are checklists used by professional Six Sigma appraisers. These charts are prepared by the appraisers at the beginning of the implementation process and are used for verifying the applicability of the ongoing Six Sigma quality improvement initiatives.
The thing to remember here is that a separate checklist is prepared for assessing the status of each individual business process or activity. For example, if the Six Sigma implementation is being carried out simultaneously in the production and finance department, a separate checklist will be prepared for each of these. Each of these checklists are quite effective because they are created as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that are determined during the initial stages of Six Sigma project implementations.
They help appraisers to determine whether or not the standard procedures are being followed. It also helps in understanding exactly how well the predetermined plans are being carried out by those associated with the implementation.
Even though the Six Sigma appraisal process plays a vital role in determining the success of Six Sigma implementations, it has its limitations in that it can only be used for monitoring quality levels already existing in a business organization. That is to say that it does not contribute anything towards making further quality improvements in an organization, something that is possible only through Six Sigma implementations.
However, the limitations do not reduce the importance of Six Sigma appraisals because the appraisals do help in reducing risks associated with Six Sigma implementations. Without the appraisal process, it would be like riding a boat with a hole in it, for every organization that intends to improve quality and efficiency through Six Sigma implementations.