Six Sigma for Technical Processes: An Overview for R&D Executives, Technical Leaders, and Engineering Managers


Use Six Sigma to achieve and sustain excellence in product development and commercialization!

To sustain growth and profitability, companies must tightly align product development and commercialization to fast-changing customer requirements. In this book, Clyde Creveling identifies the four process areas most crucial to doing so--and shows executives and managers how to optimize each of them.

Creveling introduces a Six Sigma-enabled workflow ...

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Use Six Sigma to achieve and sustain excellence in product development and commercialization!

To sustain growth and profitability, companies must tightly align product development and commercialization to fast-changing customer requirements. In this book, Clyde Creveling identifies the four process areas most crucial to doing so--and shows executives and managers how to optimize each of them.

Creveling introduces a Six Sigma-enabled workflow that encompasses strategic product/technology portfolio definition and development, research and technology development (R&TD), tactical design engineering processes for commercialization, and operational production and service support. He presents tools, methods, and best practices for selecting the right projects, prioritizing them, and executing them rapidly, consistently, and successfully.

  • Integrate all key technical processes so they work together in harmony
  • Create Phase/Gate control plans for delivering products with minimal risk
  • Establish scorecards for risk management in technical processes
  • Use Six Sigma tools, such as Monte Carlo and FMEA, to improve project management
  • Bring discipline to your product and technology portfolio renewal processes
  • Systematically optimize your commercialization processes
  • Define stripped-down "Fast Track" processes for commercializing high-risk, high-reward opportunities
  • Provide effective operational support after you launch your product
  • Preview the future of "lean" and Six Sigma in technical processes
  • Use lean techniques to streamline repeatable processes such as R&D, product design, and post-launch production engineering support
  • Learn how to manage the risk of doing a fast track commercialization project when you really must cut corners to get a product out into the market before your opportunity evaporates
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Clyde "Skip" Creveling is the president and founder of Product Development Systems & Solutions Inc. (PDSS) ( Since PDSS' founding in 2002, Mr. Creveling has led Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) initiatives at Motorola, Carrier Corporation, StorageTek, Cummins Engine, BD, Mine Safety Appliances, Callaway Golf, and a major pharmaceutical company. Prior to founding PDSS, Mr. Creveling was an independent consultant, DFSS Product Manager, and DFSS Project Manager with Sigma Breakthrough Technologies Inc. (SBTI). During his tenure at SBTI he served as the DFSS Project Manager for 3M, Samsung SDI, Sequa Corp., and Universal Instruments.

Mr. Creveling was employed by Eastman Kodak for 17 years as a product development engineer within the Office Imaging Division. He also spent 18 months as a systems engineer for Heidelberg Digital as a member of the System Engineering Group. During his career at Kodak and Heidelberg he worked in R&D, Product Development/Design/System Engineering, and Manufacturing. Mr. Creveling has five U.S. patents.

He was an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology for four years, developing and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in mechanical engineering design, product and production system development, concept design, robust design, and tolerance design. Mr. Creveling is also a certified expert in Taguchi Methods.

He has lectured, conducted training, and consulted on product development process improvement, design for Six Sigma methods, technology development for Six Sigma, critical parameter management, robust design, and tolerance design theory and applications in numerous U.S, European, and Asian locations. He has been a guest lecturer at MIT, where he assisted in the development of a graduate course in robust design for the System Design and Management program.

Mr. Creveling is the author or coauthor of several books, including Six Sigma for Technical Processes, Six Sigma for Marketing Processes, Design for Six Sigma in Technology and Product Development, Tolerance Design, and Engineering Methods for Robust Product Design. He is the editorial advisor for Prentice Hall's Six Sigma for Innovation and Growth Series.

Mr. Creveling holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering technology and an M.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology.

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Read an Excerpt


To survive in today's global market, companies must possess the capability to continually reinvent themselves in response to changing customer needs and aggressive worldwide competition. History has shown us that companies that were once icons in their respective fields can lose their competitive advantage.

To grow and prosper in this climate, companies must develop and sustain the capability to offer superior products and services that are aligned to existing and emerging customer needs. Companies must possess the capability to create value that customers are willing to pay for. Real leaders help to direct the evolution of their markets through insight, vision, and, most important, the ability to execute. The pressure is always on! Successful companies never sit back, for they recognize that there is always someone out there who wants their business.

In support of this mission, companies must possess robust, highly efficient new product development and commercialization processes. Obviously, this includes the capability to create robust and tunable technologies that can ultimately provide commercial value for the company. These aligned capabilities must work as an efficient, lean system to produce a steady, predictable stream of successful product launches. Many companies exhibit excellent subsystem performance but fail to achieve the ultimate goal due to a lack of coordinated planning and execution.

Effective business and technology leaders recognize the importance of properly managing this critical business process, for this is the lifeblood of the corporation. Leaders must see the whole picture, the end-to-end process, and understand themanner in which the pieces interact. Leaders are responsible for managing the company's scarce resources wisely to achieve business goals and objectives. Companies simply cannot afford to allocate resources to fixing newly released products or creating products that fail to garner market appeal.

This text provides an essential roadmap for business and technology leaders as they strive to achieve excellence in new product development. It discusses the role that DMAIC Six Sigma has played in process improvement, while clearly focusing on the application of lean Six Sigma thinking on the prevention of defects and the promotion of successful product launches. It provides a logical framework that leaders can adopt to promote excellence in all facets of new product development, including, but not limited to, market sensing, portfolio management, technology development, commercialization, and post-launch service and support.

In closing, this text is worth the read. It brings it all together for business and technology leaders. I want to thank C. M. Creveling and the PDSS team for creating this valuable tool. Well done!

John D. Boselli, PE
Vice President, Quality Management and Regulatory Compliance
BD Diagnostics, PreAnalytical Systems, Beckton Dickinson & Co.PrefaceWhat Is in This Book?

This book is all about Six Sigma for technical leaders and management professionals and the processes they oversee. It is structured to be a guide for designing the flow of Six Sigma–enhanced work and measuring results within and across technical processes. The kind of Six Sigma we explore is relatively new; it is the form of Six Sigma that prevents problems within well-designed and structured technical processes. Its focus is four process arenas for enabling a business to attain a state of sustainable growth:

  • Strategic portfolio-renewal process: product and technology portfolio definition and development
  • Strategic R&TD process: basic research and technology development
  • Tactical design-engineering process: product commercialization
  • Operational production and service support engineering process: post-launch technical support for production and service engineering

This book is not a comprehensive guide to all technical tasks across an enterprise. It is about the portion of those tasks that can be enhanced by Six Sigma discipline. We focus on what to do (major tasks enhanced by toolsets) and when to do it (major phases within our processes) as leaders, not as doers. The "how" part, for "doers," is a very detailed body of knowledge that can be found, in part, in our text DFSS in Technology and Product Development (by Creveling, Slutsky, and Antis; Prentice Hall, 2003).

Anyone interested in how Six Sigma tools, methods, and best practices can enhance and enable these four process arenas will benefit from this new book. We believe this text will help guide the reader to structure a "lean" workflow for completing the right technical tasks using the right tools, methods, and best practices at the right time. So, yes, this book is all about "lean" Six Sigma for technical processes and the results this produces to enhance sustainable growth.

This book has almost nothing to do with the older form of Six Sigma known for its five-step DMAIC process for solving problems and cleaning up quality defects. DMAIC stands for five distinct problem solving steps: Define a costly problem, measure the process (take credible data) where the problem exists, analyze the data to define root causes, improve the process so that it meets requirements, and, finally, control the process to keep it "on target" using a control plan. Our focus migrates away from these simple five steps to the actual technical processes that are used to run a modern enterprise on a day-to-day basis.

Why did I write this book? To help expand the understanding of executives, leaders, and managers beyond the kinds of Six Sigma paradigms, workflows, measurement rigors, and "lean" process disciplines that exist in the world of Design for Six Sigma found in our first text, previously mentioned. My text on DFSS, which came out in 2003, has become a recognized resource for R&D and product commercialization engineers—the doers. Every time we teach and mentor engineering teams on DFSS and TDFSS (technology development for Six Sigma), they ask, "Do our leaders agree with this approach and are they going to support us? Are they aware that they are flooding us with too many projects? Do they realize that our ability to really do what we do best and do it right the first time is being compromised by giving us too many projects and too little time to complete our tasks? Shouldn't they be working in front of us to assure us we have what we need to do this right? Shouldn't they prevent problems on our behalf where they have the power and resources to do so?" The answer, of course, is always "Yes, yes they should."

This text will help you align with and proactively support your teams if you intend to integrate Six Sigma discipline into your enterprise workflow. This book is part of an exciting new set of books from Prentice Hall called the Six Sigma for Innovation & Growth Series. That means there are more books like it to help educate others in your leadership ranks as you all integrate Six Sigma where it adds value across the enterprise. If you want to see how inbound and outbound marketing relates to all of this in management and leadership roles, see our new text, Six Sigma for Marketing Processes (by Creveling, Hambleton, and McCarthy; Prentice Hall, 2006), written for marketing professionals.

DFSS and TDFSS (technology development for Six Sigma) are integrating to form a unified approach for those who are trying to improve product commercialization cycle time together. So this book is partly DFSS for R&TD professionals. We go well beyond just talking about product commercialization in this book, though. We set the stage for a comprehensive Six Sigma–enabled workflow for technical professionals that crosses the four process arenas we mentioned earlier: product and technology portfolio renewal, R&TD, commercialization (tactical inbound engineering), and product line management (operational outbound engineering). That is why the logo for this book looks the way it does. This text promotes two distinct themes:

  1. Plan your product and technology portfolio well so you take the right number and order of projects into R&TD and commercialization.
  2. Do the projects you have activated from your options very well within your R&TD and product commercialization processes.

Take a moment to reflect on the logo (it appears at the beginning of each chapter), and you will see our view of how engineering workflow is structured in the text.

The book consists of nine chapters. Chapter 1, "Introduction to Six Sigma for Technical Processes," lays out the whole integrated story of Six Sigma in technical processes. It covers the big picture of how all four technical process arenas work in harmony. One without the others is insufficient for actively sustaining growth in a business. This chapter also sets the stage for how phases and gates form a control plan for getting work done properly with minimal risk. Six Sigma is commonly associated with establishing a control plan; our control plan is the system of phases and gates used to structure the flow of work and assess data for risk management and decision making. We discuss how phase-gate systems are built and how they are "loaded" with tasks that can be enhanced and enabled with Six Sigma tools, methods, and best practices.

Chapters 2, "Scorecards for Risk Management in Technical Processes," and 3, "Project Management in Technical Processes," work closely together. Chapter 2 is about a system of integrated scorecards that measures risk accrual from tool use to task completion, to gate deliverables for each of the four technical processes. Chapter 3 gives a project management view of how technical teams can design and manage their work with a little help from some very useful Six Sigma tools (primarily Monte Carlo Simulations and Project Failure Modes and Effects Analysis FMEA). Chapter 3 will help you lean out your technical tasks and assess them for cycle-time risk. It can be used with traditional critical path methods or critical chain and buffering methods.

Chapters 4–8 contain more detailed views within each of the four technical processes. They lay out gate requirements and gate deliverables within phase tasks and detail the enabling tools, methods, and best practices that help technical teams complete their work on a timely basis. They offer a set of standard work (a lean term) that can be adaptively designed into your technical processes where you live on a daily basis. Chapter 7, "Fast Track Commercialization," is very unique; it discusses how to design a "Fast Track Project" for commercializing a high-risk, high-reward opportunity to help grow your business. A Fast Track Project is a faster-than-lean product-commercialization project that is rushed through your phase-gate process with some critical, value-adding tasks not fully completed. This rushed form of commercialization should be used sparingly and should not be the normal way you work. The use of Six Sigma in portfolio renewal, R&TD, and post-launch processes is discussed so that you can justify doing such a risky project during the phases of commercialization.

These chapters will help you design lean, Six Sigma–enabled work so you have efficient workflow and low variability in your summary results. The standard work in these chapters will help prevent problems and ultimately sustain growth. This is because what you do will add value and help ensure that your business cases reach their full entitlement. When business cases do what they promise, you will see sustained growth.

Chapter 8, "Operational Post-Launch Engineering Support Processes," wraps up everything quickly and succinctly. We know technical management professionals are very busy folks, so we try to get the right information to you in a few short chapters so you can help design work and lead your teams to new levels of performance as you seek to sustain growth within your business.

We would like to thank all the great people at Prentice Hall and those who helped with critical reviews prior to publishing for their support and hard work to make this part of the Six Sigma for Growth Series a success:

Prentice Hall staff:

Bernard Goodwin, Publisher

Michelle Housley, Editorial Assistant

Curt Johnson, Executive Marketing Manager

Heather Fox, Publicist

Christy Hackerd, Production Editor

Damon Jordan, Development Editor

Krista Hansing, Copy Editor

Sandra Schroeder, Cover Designer

Bill Camarda, Cover Writer

Nonie Ratcliff, Compositor

Angie Bess, Indexer

Critical review team:

Roger Forsgren

Paul Hellinga

David C. Trimble

William Tynes

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by John Boselli xiii

Preface xv

About the Author xxi

Chapter 1: Introduction to Six Sigma for Technical Processes 1

Chapter 2: Scorecards for Risk Management in Technical Processes 21

Chapter 3: Project Management in Technical Processes 35

Chapter 4: Strategic Product and Technology Portfolio Renewal Process 51

Chapter 5: Strategic Research and Technology Development Process 95

Chapter 6: Tactical Product Commercialization Process 163

Chapter 7: Fast Track Commercialization 275

Chapter 8: Operational Post-Launch Engineering Support Processes 293

Chapter 9: Future Trends in Six Sigma and Technical Processes 317

Glossary 323

Index 351

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