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Sigma Project Benefits


We are currently rolling out a variety of Sigma training programmes. It is a condition of achieving their Sigma qualification that delegates then complete a Sigma process improvement project but in many cases these are being started but not followed through. In order to reinforce the importance of completing these projects I would be interested to know whether any data exists about the typical/ average benefits that these sorts of projects can realise.

I would be grateful for any advice or website suggestions along these lines.

Many Thanks,
Paula Cohen

One Response

  1. It’s not that clear cut…
    Hi Paula,

    I assume you are actually refering to Six Sigma as you also mention process improvement?

    I’ll try and answer your direct questions but it also seems to me that the entire ‘Sigma’ project is in some danegr here with people who have attended the training not following through?

    Six Sigma is more than just a bit of training and some process improvement. It is in reality a culture change programme. It can’t be anything else – if you already have a culture of fact-based data-driven decision making and problem solving that is focused on customer requirements and driving performance then you are probably already operating at a high level of performance and doing ‘six sigma’ without thinking about it. If you aspire to its reported benefits, then you need to tackle this as a culture change programme and look intensely at why people are not following through. I am also assuming that the training is being done by a reputable and expert provider in this field (it is so easy to get six sigma training ‘wrong’). It may be the case that the wrong projects are being targetted or not enough support is being given to these projects – they usually need a black belt to support them, esp. in the early days – make sure you have 1 or 2 of these before your green belts come back from their training!

    I have been involved in six sigma for some 4 years now. Typically we looked for Black Belt trainees to deliver £150K of usable benefits (not paper money represented by 2 mins saved every process cycle multiplied by the thousands of times the process cycles in a year multiplied by the salary rates for 2 minutes, but actual cash added to the bottom line). A black belt would need to demonstrate this 2 or 3 times in the first year (low hanging fruit – the easier improvement opportunities).

    The Black Belts are full time roles. The next level down, the Green Belts, are part time, doing their normal ‘day’ job and supporting six sigma projects under the supervision of a Black Belt as the need arises. Typically they’d give some 30% of their time to a six sigma project or 2.

    For an improvement project, i.e. using the DMAIC framework, the min benefits to expect are a 50% improvement in what is already in place, if not more.

    For the development of a new process to support the development of a new capability, typically expect to see a 500%-1000% improvement in key process measures. This sounds amazing, but typically organisations operate at the 2-3 sigma level, and moving to the 4-5 sigma level involves this kind of improvement, and is quite achievable in many cases.

    Green Belts are not usually assigned a ‘target’ to achieve in terms of returned benefits, but typically we looked for a return of at least their gross salaries in the first year.

    I hope this gives an idea. For mroe info, visit

    Best wishes,



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