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Six sigma in service organisations: Benefits, challenges and difficulties, common myths, empirical observations and success factors

Jiju Antony (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Improvement, Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Frenie Jiju Antony (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Improvement, Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Maneesh Kumar (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Improvement, Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Byung Rae Cho (Advanced Quality Engineering Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 20 March 2007

Abstract

Purpose

Six sigma has received considerable attention over the last four years in the UK service sector. The purpose of this paper is to present a review of the literature on six sigma as applied to the service industry, followed by a presentation of the key findings obtained from a pilot survey carried out in UK service organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents some of the most common challenges, difficulties, common myths, and implementation issues in the application of six sigma in service industry settings. It also discusses the benefits of six sigma in service organisations, tools and techniques of six sigma for service performance improvement, key criteria for the selection of winning projects, followed by the results of a six sigma pilot survey in UK service organisations.

Findings

The results of the study show that the majority of service organisations in the UK have been engaged in a six sigma initiative for just over three years. The average sigma quality level of the companies was around 2.8 (approximately 98,000 DPMO). Management commitment and involvement, customer focus, linking six sigma to business strategy, organisational infrastructure, project management skills, and understanding of the six sigma methodology are the most critical factors for the successful introduction, development and deployment of six sigma.

Originality/value

This paper reports the first study on the status of six sigma implementation in UK service organisations. The findings and key observations of this paper will be of immense value to the six sigma academic and research community.

Keywords

Citation

Antony, J., Jiju Antony, F., Kumar, M. and Rae Cho, B. (2007), "Six sigma in service organisations: Benefits, challenges and difficulties, common myths, empirical observations and success factors", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 294-311. https://doi.org/10.1108/02656710710730889

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited