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Design for Six Sigma

Finbarr Sheehy - Lean Sigma Training - Business Excellence - Design for Six SigmaSix Sigma is a quality improvement methodology for business processes. The two common methodologies of Six Sigma are,

DMAIC (Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control) and

DMADV (Define – Measure – Analyze – Design – Verify).

Among these, DMADV is also known as DFSS or “Design for Six Sigma.” Most of the practitioners of Six Sigma commonly follow the first approach, i.e., DMAIC. While DMAIC improves the existing process for eliminating the errors, DFSS deals with the generation of new processes and services.

The application of DFSS comes up when it is necessary to design or redesign a product from scratch. Producing such a high quality level with a markedly low defect level for service or product from ground up is not possible unless customer needs and expectations are completely understood prior to designing and implementation. Hence a significant portion of the methodology is taken up with understanding the customer requirements and translating them into functional requirements for each part of the business.
In contrast to the DMAIC methodology, the steps in DFSS are not predefined. Each organization or company defines its DFSS uniquely. Customer satisfaction is of utmost priority in DFSS because in order to generate a product or service whose expected Sigma level is at least 4.5 Sigma, the needs of the customers (CTOs) must be completely studied and understood before product design.
Phases in DFSS Implementation

The five phases of DMADV (or DFSS) are as follows:

  • Define design or project goals that meet the demands of the customer through voice of the customer (VOC), analysis (external requirements) and business needs (internal requirements).
  • Measure and identify factors that are Critical To Quality (CTQs), customer needs, potential competitors and risks.
  • Analyze the design of the process in order to re-design it for meeting the customer needs
  • Design the process in such a way that it meets the customer requirements.
  • Verify the design performance and if the customers’ needs are met through the design.


In short, DFSS explores the engineering aspects of the process to be designed; hence, the customer finds a significant increase in the product or service efficiency. In order to attain this, DFSS employs specialized tools such as quality function deployment (QFD), design of experiments (DOE), TRIZ, Taguchi methods, and Robustification, unlike those used in DMAIC.
Six Sigma is certainly a powerful approach for the improvement of business processes, either in service or manufacturing industries, and the DMAIC methodology is proving so effective that it has become the industry standard for quality improvement. Lean and Six Sigma are integrated, providing tools and techniques to deal with the transactional and efficiency side of manufacturing. TRIZ, the theory of inventive problems solving, is also being integrated within Six Sigma to support the generation of more proactive ideas.
Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is an approach that extends the concept of Six Sigma process improvement to that of the design of new products and services, or the re-design of existing items, together with the meticulous design of the supporting processes that deliver these items to the market.
Is it Right for you?

Irrespective of your business/industry if you are involved in designing processes which are highly based on customer demand and require high levels of performance there are tools within DFSS which are of benefit. Contact us today and learn how we can help you improve your products / processes.

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