Following the traditional DMAIC model for a Six Sigma project, the last phase of any project is always the control phase. During this phase, the Six Sigma team must ensure that the processes it has improved continue to function well, produce the desired results, and continue to maintain the same high quality levels. There are four aspects of control that you need to consider when evaluating your project.
Standardization is an aspect of control, which allows a process to work in the best possible way. This is usually achieved once a system reaches the point where the inputs, or elements put into the system, are the same over and over again. Manufacturing is a great example of this. When working to control your process, you’ll need to design a feature that ensures steps are performed in a standardized way.
Quality control is another aspect of the control phase that your team will need to accomplish. Your ultimate goal is to ensure that you meet a high standard of quality with your products or services. The control phase helps with this critical customer service. Quality control is the essential method to keep your improvement process on track and in the right direction. This method also allows you to quickly spot problem areas and fix them before they become bigger problems.
A third aspect of control that requires consideration at this particular stage is its methods of regulation and any alternatives. When you develop a new process or make a change to an existing process, you must develop a way to regulate this workflow. Without this workflow, it would be chaos. If you can’t manage a process through normal means, you need to be able to find alternatives to get the job done. You should try to avoid forcing compliance with the standardized method.
Responding appropriately to defects is a final aspect of control. Your process will always have defects, even if the goal of Six Sigma is to reduce these defects as close to zero as possible. Defects are more likely to occur in the weakest links in your process. This aspect will allow you to carefully monitor these areas so that you can detect and correct a suspected defect before the process continues. Ideally, responding to these defects involves preventing these defects from reappearing. If you don’t have control over the visualization of the process, you won’t detect these defects quickly enough to prevent failure of the process as a whole. It is crucial to monitor them for the success of the entire process.