What is Design for Six Sigma

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is frequently confused with Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma. This is something that needs to be clarified and explained.

Design for Six Sigma is a separate process management methodology related to Six Sigma. These methodologies are similar, however, they do differ in a number of aspects. While Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma are used for process improvement, Design for Six Sigma methodology primarily aims at product development from the ground up.

Explanation of Design for Six Sigma

Design for Six Sigma is based on the use of statistical tools, like linear regression and is basically a empirical research tool and is similar to research as done in -for example- social science. This methodology is widely used in engineering and manufacturing. It is worth pointing out that while the tools and order used in Six Sigma require a process to be in place and functioning; Design for Six Sigma has the objective of determining the needs of customers and the business, and driving those needs into the product solution so created.

Unlike Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma is most applicable for relative simple items / systems. Design for Six Sigma is most frequently used for product or process design in contrast with process improvement. Measurement is the most important part of most Six Sigma or DFSS tools, but whereas in Six Sigma measurements are made from an existing process, DFSS focuses on gaining a deep insight into customer needs and using these to inform every design decision and trade-off.

Design for Six Sigma can be implemented in a number of ways. While Six Sigma is commonly driven via DMAIC (Define - Measure - Analyze - Improve - Control) projects, Design for Six Sigma relies on stepwise processes, which are different but still close to the DMAIC procedure.

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is considered more advanced than Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma methodologies. This methodology and practice is currently evolving, and the processes and benchmarks keep changing. It relies on the assumption that most issues with quality originate when a product is being conceived and designed. Therefore, DFSS proponents believe that it's best to avoid the issue than have to fix the processes around it later.

Design for Six Sigma is a promising methodology and practice that harbors a great potential, especially for massive manufacturers and advanced engineering companies. If you believe that this optimization approach is close to your values, goals and your way of thinking, you should consider making Design for Six Sigma the primary focus of your career.