Six Sigma Benchmarking Criteria for Organizations

ISO 17258:2015 – Statistical methods – Six Sigma – Basic criteria underlying benchmarking for Six Sigma in organisations is a new standard for quality management. The Six Sigma method that is reinforced by this document can be used in combination with ISO 9001:2015 for a remarkably sound quality management system. Benchmarking helps the Six Sigma approach establish quality in any industry.

As we discussed in a past post, Six Sigma is a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. There is always a margin of error or potential for some mistake to occur, so no quality management system can claim to be absolutely perfect. However, Six Sigma surely comes close to perfection, as it requires no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This applies to any service with potential defects.

ISO 17258:2015 covers a method for benchmarking to carry out a Six Sigma process. Benchmarks are currently used in a variety of business practices for comparison of levels of quality, performance, and productivity.  Six Sigma requires evaluation steps necessary to ensure its effectiveness, and the methods of benchmarking covered in this standard address them all in detail.

According to ISO 17258:2015, benchmarking is the complete process containing an objective establishment step, a measurement step, a controlling step for the level of quality of the measurement results, and a comparison step.

In establishing these reference points, the standard provides the means to initiate a Six Sigma system. Considerations related to benchmarking covered by ISO 17258:2015 include the general criteria (basic requirements of the consumer and practical way to attain that measure), the scope of measures taken on the processes of the organization (compliance, ethical behavior, returns, etc.), and the controls for the quality of the results.

While Six Sigma benchmarking is intended for quality, performance, and productivity, it provides the means to input results that interface with other types of benchmarking as well. These include product performance benchmarking (the functional performances of products are compared) and financial performance benchmarking (i.e. cost benchmarking, value-added benchmarking, portfolio benchmarking).

As previously mentioned, ISO 9001 and Six Sigma can be used together in a quality management system. This is because ISO 9001, by its nature, is not prescriptive, allowing compliant organizations to use whichever means they prefer to carry out quality management processes. Regardless of their choice, they need to have a method for continuing improvement, as recommended by ISO 9001:2015.
Benchmarking in Six Sigma allows for this, since it helps an organization determine the state-of-the-art levels of quality, performance, and productivity in their industry that they should strive for at any given moment.

ISO 17258:2015 – Statistical methods – Six Sigma – Basic criteria underlying benchmarking for Six Sigma in organisations is now available on the ANSI Webstore.

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