CHAPTER 4

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Process Improvement: Minimizing Variation Through Six Sigma

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CHAPTER IN PERSPECTIVE

The operations strategy defines the way an organization's operations will support the organization's overall competitiveness. Once the operations strategy has been defined, the value-creating processes must be designed (Chapter 2) and controlled (Chapter 3). While controlling the processes, it is often determined that there are opportunities to improve the process. Thus, the focus of this chapter is on the redesign and continuous improvement of business processes in support of the overall business strategy. To put our discussion in perspective, we begin with an overview of three alternative approaches for process improvement. We then turn our attention to the first process improvement strategy, Business Process Design.

This is then followed by a detailed discussion of the second process improvement strategy, Six Sigma. Next, each phase in Six Sigma's DMAIC approach is discussed in more detail, including illustrating the use of representative Six Sigma tools in each phase. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Six Sigma in practice. Here we discuss the various roles associated with Six Sigma, becoming certified, and the need for organizations to customize their approach to Six Sigma ...

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