Companies that regularly use Six Sigma methodologies are far more likely to have full confidence that they are complying with regulations from OSHA, Sarbanes-Oxley and the EPA among many others, according to a survey of more than 1,000 Six Sigma professionals released in the July/August 2006 issue of iSixSigma Magazine.
"Fifty-five percent of our respondents said they had full confidence that their company was satisfactorily meeting legal regulations," said Michael Marx, research manager for iSixSigma Magazine. "The big majority of those - about two-thirds - used all or some Six Sigma tools in the process."
The reverse was also true. "Those with the least confidence were from companies who used few or no Six Sigma tools at all," said Marx.
This pattern makes sense, he added. "Part of standard Six Sigma methodology is to document processes," explained Marx. "The better your documentation, the more visible the process, and the more visible the process, the more confidence people will have that you're complying with regulations."
The documentation, he added, related to everything from tracking data, to taking corrective action, to reporting back to the regulatory body.
The level of confidence was also related to how long the company had been using Six Sigma.
"Only 42 percent of companies who had been using Six Sigma for less than a year expressed full confidence in their compliance," said Marx. "That level rose to 85 percent for companies who have been using Six Sigma for seven or more years."
The full survey also addresses the extent to which Six Sigma is used in compliance, the types of regulations most often tackled with Six Sigma tools, the reasons why Six Sigma is sometimes not used for compliance issues, and the importance of executive commitment.
Exactly what parts of Six Sigma were helpful varied by company. "The most commonly used tools were cause-and-effect analysis and process mapping," said Marx. "But respondents cited more than 20 specific tools or methods used in their companies. Obviously, Six Sigma gives them flexibility to address the array of challenges associated with ensuring compliance."