Six Sigma is an approach for process improvement used by many organizations. Samsung Electronics used Six Sigma as a tool for innovation to improve their products, processes, and personnel development (Burgess & Singh 2006). Six Sigma was added to its previous existing innovations for efficiency and quality in order to advance the companys competitive position in the world markets. By using Six Sigma, Samsung Electronics has benefited financially, because the innovation has saved on costs, increased sales revenue, and promoted new product development. Six Sigma was a success in the supply chain management of Samsung Electronics because of the companys international operations and culture. The success of the Six Sigma approach was attributed to four factors, which are discussed in this paper.
The Support of Top Management
Top managements commitment, contribution of required resources and effort have led to the success of the Six Sigma innovation in the supply chain management at Samsung (Henderson & Evans 2000). The Chief Executive Officer showed his commitment with his charisma and influence. He was able to change the structure of the company and alter the attitudes of the employees toward Six Sigma. Together with his qualified staff, they were involved in the overall implementation of Six Sigma. The top management selected to oversee the implementation ensured that the process was handled by well-trained individuals who were ready to work. The implementation of Six Sigma requires the commitment of resources, time, money and efforts of the entire company. The senior executives mandated the project and ensured that the right procedures were followed in its exertion (Hendricks & Kelbaugh 1998).
The management of Samsung integrated the Six Sigma organizational framework with the overall structure of the organization into a strong matrix. It acted as the driving force towards success and innovation. This step allowed the Six Sigma project to be undertaken as part of the business activities rather than a separate initiative imposed on the personnel of the organization. The improvement of supply chain management activities at Samsung was centered on peoples participation. The company is well-equipped with trained, qualified and talented people who possess the skills and knowledge necessary to handle the systems and processes of Six Sigma.
Project Selection, Planning and Implementation Methodology
The Six Sigma project at Samsung was carefully selected, planned and reviewed to maximize the benefits of its execution. Samsung conducted a feasibility study, and it was clear that the program had to be financially and organizationally beneficial and customer-oriented. The company had set clear measures that incorporated clients requirements. The project was reviewed periodically to evaluate the status of the innovation and the performance of Six Sigmas tools and techniques being implemented. All projects face various constraints; therefore, at Samsung, the Six Sigma project was documented to track various restraints that were encountered.
By using the common methodologies for the implementation of Six Sigma - namely, DMAIC and DMADV - the application and learning were simplified. It was easier to communicate about the project with all departments, organizational units, and the success was related to all professions. The structural processes used for the Six Sigma innovation resolved the problems earlier encountered at Samsung in the sphere of supply chain management.
Six Sigma Project Management and Control
The Six Sigma project used by Samsung was targeted to take a lot of time. The innovation exceeded the duration target, and the management thought that it was better to break it down into smaller projects. This objective was an important factor contributing to the success of the project, because it guaranteed managements support of large conventional projects. It is easier to manage and ensure implementation of a smaller project. The tools used for scheduling, control, and progress reporting ensure that the project is planned in an achievable manner.
Continuous Education and Training
Samsung Electronics has educated its employees to give them a clear vision and understanding of the required procedures, tools and techniques of the Six Sigma approach. Training is important, because it is a part of the communication, which enables managers and employees to apply the complex tools of Six Sigma effectively. Samsung used the Six Sigma Belt System, which identifies ranking of expertise. The Six Sigma Belt System ensures that the establishment and execution of Six Sigma projects are accomplished correctly (Hoerl 1998). The training is provided by identifying the key roles and responsibilities of the personnel implementing the scheme. Every individual was trained according to his/her role in the company and contribution to the Six Sigma enforcement.
Additionally, Samsung was using other approaches with the aim of improving the supply chain management. These techniques, together with Six Sigma, have helped improve products and ensure customer satisfaction. Samsung has continuously been adapting the latest methods and techniques outside the Six Sigma innovation that have been complementing this approach. The employees of Samsung participated in Six Sigma after training, and it was achieved with the help of the advanced computer software provided by management, which made statistical tools easier to use. Samsungs supply chain is comprised of loyal customers, shareholders and employees with each stakeholder playing an important role in the implementation of Six Sigma innovation (Anthony & Banuelas 2002). Training was carried out at the Juran Institute after Samsung had established its strategic objectives. The management of Samsung and other employees responsible for deployment were chosen for training.
The role of Six Sigma in improving products, processes and manufacturing operations has been documented with its wide range of impacts on the functions of Samsung. The companys work practices, product development and customer satisfaction levels improved. When Samsung realized that its supply chain management needed improvement, the management developed a unique Six Sigma methodology to enhance its operations. Samsung is now expanding its global market share, and the supply chain management under Six Sigma is playing an important role in the improvement of products, processes and personnel development.
The Six Sigma innovation has helped Samsung develop its internal resources, design of products, manufacturing and marketing techniques, and employee management. Six Sigma has helped Samsung achieve its goals of creating both qualitative and quantitative growth and delivering profitability to all stakeholders while maintaining competitive value.