Six Sigma and Suppliers

In their book called Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D. And Richard Schroeder talk about the importance of adopting Six Sigma to improve the quality of a company’s processes, and consequently the quality of the products that they make.

As the authors remind the readers, most companies don’t make all the components that go into their products or services.    One approach to making sure suppliers improve the quality of their components is to put in penalties for delays or low quality as conditions in their supplier contract.   However, they say the best way to improve quality of one’s suppliers is to work with one’s suppliers by undertaking their Six Sigma training.

The authors recommend that a company spend at least two years getting its own processes under control before they begin training key suppliers.   This is because a lot of the supplier error is caused by poor drawings and specifications provided to them.

Another recommendation is that rather than focusing on all components of a product, to first focus on those parts or components that are critical to quality.

When you approach a supplier about Six Sigma training, the supplier should be enthusiastic about the training because they should be as concerned about the quality of the product as the customers, and a good-quality product requires good-quality components.

Key suppliers are the only ones that need to be trained in the Six Sigma method.   This is because other suppliers, once that realize that your company is measuring the quality of the components with Six Sigma, will want to start correcting its problems itself, and may become interested in having its own personnel undertake Six Sigma training.

They will be interested in delivering quality components to their customer, i.e., your organization, to the extent that you show you are willing to deliver your customer a good product with the assistance of Six Sigma methodology.

In the next chapter, the authors discuss the importance of the Six Sigma Black Belts, who implement the methodology on a project basis.    They will discuss the numbers of Black Belts they recommend a company have, and what kind of training and indeed what kind of compensation they should receive.


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