There is a need for small & medium size companies to recognize the benefits of Six Sigma rather than being suspicious of a buyer’s motives, if they ask them to use Six Sigma tools! A buying firm also needs to ensure strong commitment to Six Sigma training programmes that develop the SME’s long-term capability rather than as a means of immediate results to strengthen the relationship between the SME and the large counterpart.
Research suggests that key elements for successful deployment of Six Sigma tools in SMEs are: proactive customers and suppliers, commitment to long-term relationships, continuous improvement mentality, creating learning opportunities that are appropriate to the smaller organisations and a win-win philosophy.
The common critical success factors (CSFs) for both Lean and Six Sigma implementation in SMEs outlined in research articles by Kumar (2007) and Achanga et al. (2006) are: leadership commitment and management involvement, organisational culture and resource, in terms of education and training. I thought it would be good idea to list the main issues I have identified as barriers for Six Sigma deployment in SMEs in my 10 years Supply Chain and Supplier Development experience along with these CSF:
Barriers to Six Sigma Deployment in SMEs:
- Limited financial resources/High Cost
- Limited people resources & talent pool
- Lack of Management experience/ Leadership engagement
- Lack of systematic training & development/ non-recognition of training needs
- Multi-hat roles/lack of time
- Possible resistance to change
- Less exposure of management innovators in other industries / Lack of knowledge about six sigma
Since adding more resources won’t be a practical answer in current business for business owners, what would be your suggestion to overcome these barriers? Please do write me 1 or 2 to carry the debate further and help the supply chain and procurement community