Six Sigma DPMO - Invensis Learning

The Six Sigma methodology has been widely accepted to improve processes across the organization. Six Sigma views all processes with the potential for improvement. Any potential problems are defined, analyzed, and improved regularly. Six Sigma has gained in popularity over time because of how effective it is and the many benefits it brings to an organization. In this article, let us explore an interesting feature, which is Sis Sigma DPMO.

Importance of Six Sigma

Six Sigma reduces the number of overall defects in the final product or service of an organization by identifying and eliminating the defects in development processes. The Six Sigma methodology and principles can be adopted by companies that vary in industries, from manufacturing to software development and information technology. It is a flexible and practical approach to continuous process improvement in organizations. It uses data to make accurate predictions and insights into the current and future processes to eliminate defects.

Companies that have used Six Sigma to improve a process have 99.99966% chances of producing a feature of a product that is free of defects. product that comes without a single defect. So, statistically speaking, Six Sigma methods are proven methods of delivering quality.

What is Six Sigma DPMO? 

DPMO is a feature or metric of Six Sigma that helps with defect identification and modification. The acronym DPMO in Six Sigma stands for:

  • D – Defects
  • P – Per
  • M – Million
  • O – Opportunities

Let us now explore Six Sigma DPMO (Defects per million opportunities) in detail.

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Six Sigma DPMO in Detail

DPMO is one of the most critical metrics of Six Sigma used to measure the capability and performance of any process or feature. The DPMO approach is also focused on generating quality with delivery for the end-users of the product or service. It helps to make sure that the product or service is perfect enough to solve a problem for the customer in a satisfactory manner and have enough features to help the customer in case of any issues in the future.

DPMO helps companies measure the right factors involved in developing any product or service to minimize defects in the quality upon completion or delivery. It needs to maintain a certain standard of quality. In Six Sigma, the quality score that products need to match is 3.4 on the DPMO scale. This means a product or service is considered high quality based on the Six Sigma standard if it has a maximum of 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

The word ‘defect’ is mentioned quite a few times, but what exactly do you mean by a defect?

What are Defects and Opportunities in Six Sigma?

A defect is defined as an error or flaw in a feature in a product’s development process. In Six Sigma, defects reduce the total value of the output when provided to a consumer. The flaw could be anything, ranging from a slight lag in an application or a key feature not working in a product. Anything that can reduce the quality of the product, and by default, affect the quality of the user experience is a defect.

Opportunities are chances for defects. To elaborate on this definition, take the following situation as an example:

A boy is walking on the footpath, and his shoelaces are untied. He is trying to walk to the park, which is about 150 steps away. Now, there are chances of him tripping on his shoelaces and falling with each step. If the untied shoelaces were considered a feature in this situation, each step is considered an opportunity for failure or defect. If the child trips and falls twice on his way to the park, the defects from opportunities in this scenario are two in number.

Why is Six Sigma DPMO Metric Important?

DPMO is considered to be an important metric for Six Sigma practices in organizations. This is because DPMO is regarded as one of the most efficient ways in which companies can measure each process’s efficiency in their organization. The DPMO steps can be applied to test the efficiency of any process or a service feature that follows the Six Sigma methodology. 

The end goal of all operations in any organization is to assure end-users that the product or service they provide is useful and is of the highest possible quality. It should have no defects to run smoothly and ensure the most customer satisfaction and business growth.

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Steps to Calculate DPMO in Six Sigma

There are five main steps in the Six Sigma process to calculate the Defects Per Million Opportunities. They are:

  • Gathering the total number of units that need to be a part of the sample
  • Creating a list of the number of opportunities that can turn into defects in every unit
  • Making a list of the total number of opportunities for the entire sample
  • Counting the actual defects in the sample group
  • Dividing the total number of defects by the total number of opportunities in the sample and multiply the result by one million

The total result should not exceed more than 3.4 defects for every million opportunities as per the Six Sigma norm. Using Six Sigma, organizations can come up with new and different processes to reduce the DPMO further. In the best-case scenario, the DPMO result would be zero defects per million opportunities. That is the ideal. Worst case scenario, the DPMO result would be one million defects for one million opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Six Sigma is a complex methodology that can be applied with various Lean and Agile principles in organizations. Process improvement principles take an iterative approach, which fits perfectly with the Agile and Lean methods. There are many certifications available for working professionals to study and become experts in Six Sigma to implement the processes and practices successfully.

There are different levels of certifications for Six Sigma, starting from the Six Sigma White Belt Certification to the Champion Certification for Six Sigma. The list of levels are:

  • Six Sigma White Belt Certification
  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification
  • Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
  • Six Sigma Black Belt Certification
  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt Certification
  • Six Sigma Champion Certification

If working professionals want to advance their careers and become experts in the Six Sigma methodology, these Six Sigma certifications are highly recommended. Each level guarantees a higher and more advanced level of knowledge and expertise in the field.

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Diego Rodriguez works as a Six Sigma Black Belt professional for a leading manufacturing company. He possesses ample experience in various aspects of quality management, such as Lean, Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis, Design Thinking, and more. His primary focus is to conduct tests and monitor the production phase and also responsible for sorting out the items that fail to meet the quality standards. Diego’s extensive work in the field has resulted in being an honorary member of quality associations globally. His areas of research include knowledge management, quality control, process design, strategic planning, and organizational performance improvement.


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