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Feb 22, 2012

Process Simulation And Six Sigma

Six Sigma has become one of the most commonly used quality management techniques since its introduction in the 1990's. The importance of Six Sigma has continued to increase ever since companies like GE began implementing it's various concepts and techniques in their business processes. This has helped the company in saving billions of dollars since the time when the concepts were first implemented.

The Simulation Process

Process simulation is one of the various techniques used in Six Sigma, involving the use of a computerized model of an actual business process. The computerized model used in process simulation is designed by inputting all the critical components of a business process such as process inputs, process flow, and the various sub-systems used in the process. With the help of the computerized process simulation model, process managers can easily view the whole process within a few minutes that would have normally taken days or even weeks to complete in the real world. Process simulation helps in collecting large data samples, which can be further analyzed and used for predicting the effects of changes made in real business processes. This allows analysts to simulate all the possible changes that can be made in a business process and analyzing the effect of such changes on the end result. Changes that are most helpful in improving the quality can be selected and put through more rigorous simulation processes for confirming the potential benefits of such changes. Once this is done, the changes can be applied in the real process as by now it is quite certain that the changes will be successful in improving the quality of goods manufactured or services rendered.

When And Where To Use

Although process simulation is a powerful tool, it must be used in the right manner and only in appropriate business processes. If the necessary information is not inputted correctly, the computerized simulation model will not be able to predict the effect of changes made in the business process. This can seriously affect the quality of end products if such changes are implemented in the real process. Process simulation is most effective when a business process is complicated and difficult to visualize. For less complicated processes, it is better to use process mapping in combination with brainstorming techniques for generating innovative quality improvement ideas. Process simulation is helpful in simulating business processes that require managers to make informed decision at every stage of the process. Process simulation is used for improving the logistics of a manufacturing company by mapping the exact flow of materials from the time they enter the factory floor to the time when they reach the final consumer in the form of finished goods.

Risks And Drawbacks

Although process simulation is very beneficial, it can also create problems for an organization if not used properly. Companies very often make the mistake of employing process simulation in every business process in the hope of improving quality. This can create confusion among the employees, especially when the company and its workforce are new to the concepts and philosophies of Six Sigma. If a process is too long and involves various sub-processes, it is better to concentrate on sub-processes that affect the quality of the end product. Companies often try to simulate the whole process, which leads to the wastage of both time and effort. For realizing the full potential of process simulation, organizations need to simulate only on those processes that are critical to the quality of goods manufactured or services rendered.