The world today is dominated by digital technology. All it takes is a glance at the commercials on TV or on the web to see that. With new mobile technologies such as cell phones and tablet computers taking the fore, it’s no surprise that the manufacturers of these products and their accessories are focused on producing a quality product. But it goes further than that; even the applications that are run on these devices are so well-made that QA processes are more stringent than ever before. That’s where the Six Sigma management process comes in. By harnessing the sheer power that Six Sigma can offer to both hardware manufacturers and software developers, consumers can be guaranteed products and applications that really push things forward, as well as being durable, long-lasting and reliable. Let’s learn more about the ways the mobile world can benefit from Six Sigma.
A case study: The Apple iPhone 5
In September 2012, Apple introduced their latest entry to the iPhone product line. Known as the iPhone 5, it was the fastest and lightest cell phone the company had ever made. In the announcement video, the company focused heavily on the quality assurance of their manufacturing process. They had used diamond-tipped cutting tools to ensure precision and consistency in every unit. However, when the product actually hit the shelves, consumers were surprised to find that some of the units were actually damaged right out of the box. There were scuffs and nicks in the chamfered edges of the phone – likely a result of the cutting tools pulling away from the metal and catching the edges. How does this relate to Six Sigma? Well, without knowing whether or not Apple abides by such a system, it’s easy to see how a focus on stringent manufacturing processes outlined via a system like Six Sigma could have avoided ‘scuffgate’ and other such mobile technology issues that have plagued consumer electronics in recent years.
Applying Six Sigma to mobile device manufacture
As you likely already know, the ‘nutshell’ form of Six Sigma is that a company will train up certain individuals within its supply chain to become absolute authorities on their particular area. These ‘black belts’, ‘green belts’, and other colors, are responsible for ensuring quality standards are met as and when a product passes through their particular area of responsibility. Thus Six Sigma offers accountability. A performance model is then applied to the process (DMAIC, or Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) to ensure continued improvement and maintain standards. When it comes to mobile device manufacture, it’s easy to see where the belted individuals could come in during the stages of manufacture: design, prototyping, manufacture, QA, finishing and so on. If such a process had been applied to the production of the iPhone 5, it’s possible that the ‘scuffgate’ problem could have been avoided altogether.
Six Sigma in a world of digital services
With the success of business on the internet has come a whole host of new digital service providers. Because they offer intangible, but very real, services, it can be hard to see how a Six Sigma process could be applied to them. The same goes for mobile application developers, who too produce a digital service of a kind. Let’s take web content writing services as an example. These companies produce written text as a response to a brief from a client, providing copywriting support for any number of web pages. Six Sigma could be used in such a case at the following stages: briefing, first draft, second draft, final copy submission. Within that, individuals could be responsible for plagiarism checking and more. As a means to promote your business, such services are worth their weight in gold. And mobile app developers can harness similar processes to provide quality apps that people will want to open and use time and again.
Digital technology is the new home of Six Sigma
As the examples above have clearly demonstrated, the Six Sigma methodology can easily be applied to many different industries, products and services. As business begins to strengthen its foothold in the online realm, ensuring quality digital services is going to become more and more important. If mobile device manufacturers and app developers adopt Six Sigma and DMAIC methodologies now, they can preserve their future in their industry by offering a quality, reliable and cost-effective product or service. And in the end, that’s all a consumer really wants.