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about computerized Decision Support Systems.

                        DSS News 
                   D. J. Power, Editor 
              June 5, 2005 -- Vol. 6, No. 13 

      A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
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* Ask Dan! - How is Six Sigma related to DSS?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS Conferences 
* DSS News Releases 


Ask Dan!

How is Six Sigma related to DSS?

For some readers Six Sigma may seem totally unrelated to Decision Support 
Systems. Others may not be quite certain what exactly "Six Sigma" means. 
Until summer of 2004, I had both of these perspectives. During the Crystal 
Ball 2004 User Conference, I attended a session on using Crystal Ball for 
Six Sigma and I talked to some Six Sigma Master Black Belts. Since then I've 
been trying to learn more about Six Sigma and how DSS might help. I've made 
some progress. 

Six Sigma is linked to statistical quality control, process design, process 
improvement and the overall quality movement. According to the Six Sigma 
glossary at Motorola University, Six Sigma was "invented by Motorola, Inc. 
in 1986 as a metric for measuring defects and improving quality. Since then, 
it has evolved to a robust business improvement methodology that focuses an 
organization on customer requirements, process alignment, analytical rigor 
and timely execution." Motorola views Six Sigma as a metric, a methodology, 
and a management system. After Motorola won the Malcolm Baldrige Quality 
Award in 1988, other company leaders were eager to learn about Six Sigma. 
Motorola executives traveled the world teaching Six Sigma to other 
organizations. Check for Six Sigma at In recent years, 
Motorola has renewed its commitment to Six Sigma. In an interview at, Bob Galvin, former Motorola CEO states, "The Six Sigma and 
process improvement initiatives were attenuated in the mid-1990’s due to 
company growth. However, they are being restored currently. The way they are 
being applied today is somewhat different. The programme is now called Six 
Sigma Digital. People who are advocating it and living it are very 
enthusiastic about it. There is a personal vitality to the entire programme 
that comes through Chris Galvin, Chairman and CEO and Mike Zafirovski, 
President and COO. They have truly personalised it."

In addition to Motorola, many major companies use Six Sigma concepts. The GE 
website ( notes "Globalization and instant access to information, 
products and services continue to change the way our customers conduct 
business. Today's competitive environment leaves no room for error. We must 
delight our customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their 
expectations. This is why Six Sigma Quality has become a part of our 
culture." According to materials at 3M United States, "In recent years, 3M 
has become one of the world's major adopters and proponents of Six Sigma 
methodology. At 3M, Six Sigma has proved that fundamental process change 
leads to higher quality output, increased productivity and energized 
employees. Today, we have more than 30,000 employees trained, with plans to 
complete Green Belt training for all salaried employees by the end of 2004 — 
including, of course, the entire Industrial Business sales force and 
technical teams. Globally, over 11,000 projects have closed and more than 
12,000 projects are currently underway."

Six Sigma has its own specialized jargon and acronyms -- DMADV, DFSS and 
DMAIC. The Motorola University Six Sigma Dictionary is a good starting 
place. DMAIC is an acronym for "Define opportunity, Measure performance, 
Analyze opportunity, Improve performance, and Control performance". DMAIC is 
the prescribed Six Sigma problem-solving framework for improving business 
processes. DFSS is an acronym for "Design for Six Sigma" which is 
a "proactive approach to building Six Sigma performance into the up front 
design of a new product, service or process." DMADV is the "most popular Six 
Sigma framework used within DFSS projects." DMADV is an acronym for "Define 
requirements, Measure performance, Analyze relationships, Design solutions, 
Verify functionality." So DMAIC is for process improvement and DFSS/DMAIC 
are for process design.

Jim Franklin, Chief Executive Officer of Decisioneering, was interviewed by 
Sophie Smiles from Sophie asked "What does Six Sigma mean 
to Decisioneering?" Jim replied "We use Six Sigma to describe a broad set of 
disciplines, which include Lean Manufacturing, Process Excellence and other 
Continuous Improvement (CI) techniques which have data-driven decisions at 
their heart." He also noted "Simulation can be applied throughout all the 
phases of Six Sigma (whether it be the DMAIC or various DFSS methodologies), 
although interestingly, organisations often vary at which stage they apply 
simulation within their projects."

Jiju Antony, The University of Warwick, was asked in a 
interview "How does Six Sigma differ from TQM and BPR?" Antony said "Six 
Sigma’s strength lies in the following core aspects:

* Quantifiable and measurable bottom-line results to the balance sheet
* Use of a systematic or disciplined methodology
* Integration of human and process issues
* The Importance of data and decision making based on data rather than 
assumptions and hunches!
* Strong leadership and uncompromising commitment to top management"

In 2000, Quality Digest had a Pro-Con feature on Six Sigma with opinion 
articles by John Ramberg and D.H. Stamatis. In Six Sigma: Fad or 
Fundamental? Ramberg writes "But what is Six Sigma? In the narrow 
statistical sense, Six Sigma is a quality objective that specifies the 
variability required of a process in terms of the specifications of the 
product so that product quality and reliability meets and exceeds today's 
demanding customer requirements."

Ramberg also notes "The originators of Six Sigma went far beyond this narrow 
definition, which was actually derived from their own reliability assessment 
of product performance. They defined a program to accomplish Six Sigma that 
included leadership, infrastructure, and tools and methods. Thus they have 
followed the advice of Joseph M. Juran and Peter Senge to make quality part 
of the corporate business plan. According to General Electric (GE)--an early 
adopter of the program--Six Sigma is a 'disciplined methodology of defining, 
measuring, analyzing, improving and controlling the quality in every one of 
the company's products, processes and transactions--with the ultimate goal 
of virtually eliminating all defects.'"

Stamatis takes the Con side of the argument and claims "Six Sigma presents 
absolutely nothing new to the quality field of defect prevention. It's 
little more than an old appraisal methodology that focuses on problems after 
they've already occurred." He concludes "We all must understand that some 
cases require problem solutions rather than root-cause solutions. We need 
problem solvers utilizing statistical thinking, not root-cause problem 
solvers dealing in high-level statistical analysis. 

Both Ramberg and Stamatis agree improving quality is important and that 
a "Quality" culture is important to achieving improved product/service 
quality. Neither mentions computerized decision support although both 
mention data collection and statistical analysis.

What should the Six Sigma change agents know about DSS? If they really want 
to be effective, the Master Black Belts and the Black Belts should know a 
lot about computerized Decision Support Systems. Green Belts and Project 
Champions need to understand the basic concepts and the synergies.

Building DSS often involves dealing with measurement issues and process 
mapping for "As-Is" processes. Data is the driver for data-driven DSS hence 
data attributes, data storage and defining metrics are part of the DSS 
builders toolkit. DSS builders also are often experts in creating 
computerized displays for data visualization.

Currently, Six Sigma Black Belts have a very specialised skill set focused 
on statistics and “softer” skills in communication and facilitation. 
Black Belts usually understand modeling, simulation and optimization, 
sometimes they have knowledge of relational databases and data management; 
but most have no formal training in building computerized Decision Support 
Systems. Even so Six Sigma Black Belts "should know how to establish control 
systems for maintaining the gains achieved through Six Sigma". Black Belts 
have prerequisite and overlapping knowledge for building DSS, they need to 
know fundamental DSS concepts to exploit the overlap and synergies.

So how are DSS and Six Sigma interrelated?

My ideas are still evolving on this question so feedback would be much 
appreciated. Prior to writing this Ask Dan!, I discussed my initial 
conclusions with a UNI colleague in Supply Chain/Quality Management, Mike 
Spencer. Mike helped with what I got right and I accept the blame for any 
errors. This answer may not yet be at Six Sigma quality.

1. We can build data-driven DSS to assist Green and Black Belts in analyzing 
and monitoring processes. Some times the computerized system may be more of 
a one-time application for a special study, than a DSS. The nature of the 
computerized support system depends upon the nature of the Six Sigma 
intervention, the intended users, and the duration of the intervention.

2. We can build a DSS as part of a process design or change effort to help 
improve or insure quality. Poor quality can result from poor decisions.

3. We can build data-driven DSS to help managers monitor metrics and 
critical success factors across processes and to help operations managers 
monitor process quality and results.

Both Decisioneering and recommend my new book "Decision 
Support Systems: Frequently Asked Questions" for budding Black Belts. Check .

I'm sure that many tools from Six Sigma on topics like process mapping and 
measurement can also help and inform DSS builders. 


3M Six Sigma,

Brand, J., "What is Six Sigma?", Darwin Magazine,

Gupta, Praveen, Six Sigma Interview with Bob Galvin,

Harry, M. and R. Schroeder. Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy 
Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations. Doubleday: New York, 1999.

Jiju Antony Interview,

Pyzdek, T., "101 Things A Six Sigma Black Belt Should Know,"

Ramberg, J. S., "Six Sigma: Fad or Fundamental?", Quality Digest, 2000,

Smiles, S. Interview with Jim Franklin, Chief Executive Officer of 
Decisioneering Inc. from

Stamatis, D. H., "Who Needs Six Sigma, Anyway?", Quality Digest 2000,

The Motorola University, Six Sigma Dictionary,,,3074-5804,00.html

What Is Six Sigma?


What's New at DSSResources.COM

06/03/2005 Posted case by Dan Power and Carol Fletcher, "University of 
Northern Iowa Dining Services uses FoodPro®". Check the cases page.


Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
83 frequently asked questions about computerized DSS 


DSS Conferences 

Upcoming Conferences 

1. 2005 Crystal Ball User Conference will be held June 13-15, 
2005 at the Marriott Denver City Center, Denver, Colorado.
Check .

2. International workshop on context modeling and decision
support will be held July 5, 2005 in Paris, France. 
Check .

3. PACIS 2005 will be held July 7-10, 2005, Bangkok, Thailand.
Check .

4. Eighth International Conference on Decision Support 
Systems (ISDSS'05),Trends in DSS Research and Practice, sponsored 
by AIS SIG DSS, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 
July 12-15, 2005. Check .

5. AMCIS 2005 with SIG DSS mini-tracks in Omaha, Nebraska, 
USA, August 11 - 14, 2005. Check .
SIGDSS meeting Thursday, August 11 from 5:30 - 7:30PM.

6. 2005 NPRA Plant Automation and Decision Support 
Conference, October 18-21, 2005, Gaylord Texan Hotel, 
Grapevine, Texas. Check .

7. Call for Papers: ACM Eighth International Workshop on Data 
Warehousing and OLAP (DOLAP 2005), November 4-5, 2005, 
Bremen, Germany. Submissions due July 19, 2005.
Check .


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DSS News Releases - May 19 to June 5, 2005
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive 

06/03/2005 FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS: ACM Eighth International Workshop on Data 
Warehousing and OLAP (DOLAP 2005) November 4-5, 2005.

06/02/2005 HUB Distributing selects Retek Merchandising, In-Store and 
Business Intelligence solutions for its fashion retail chains.

06/01/2005 Collaborative Technologies Conference sessions, tutorials to 
focus on next-generation communication tools and implementation June 19-24, 

06/01/2005 Data-2-the-Web for MySQL speeds web database creation and 
significantly reduces IT development costs.

06/01/2005 Veros Software and First American Real Estate Solutions announce 
fifth annual predictive methods conference; highlights include intelligence 
and best practices for risk management.

05/31/2005 Interactive profiling tool helps predict diabetes; launch of 
diabetes predictor tool is an exciting new application of Archimedes model 
virtual technology.

05/31/2005 New ZANTAZ(R) findings uncover the growing risk of corporate 
email and other forms of electronic information.

05/27/2005 River Valley Health adopts Dimensional Insight's HospitalAnalysis 
to enhance decision support in MEDITECH. 

05/26/2005 New study cites Fair Isaac as a leading provider of decision 
management technology for global insurers.

05/25/2005 Microsoft and Schlumberger launch strategic initiative to 
accelerate the delivery of the integrated oil and gas analysis and 
enterprise desktop.

05/25/2005 Hughes Supply selects Teradata to provide enterprise-wide data 
visibility; move to data warehousing driven by senior executives.

05/25/2005 Netezza leverages Business Objects Retail Solution suite to 
enable high-performance business intelligence for retailers.

05/25/2005 Microsoft Research names first winners of New Faculty Fellowship 
Awards, fueling innovative research in Computer Science.

05/24/2005 SAS provides Sport Chalet with Xtreme performance capabilities; 
Sport Chalet selects SAS integrated financial, assortment, allocation and 
forecasting solution.

05/24/2005 Experian selected by Benchmark Brands to create marketing 

05/24/2005 Globalization was always here; France's CMA CGM inaugurates high-
tech North American headquarters.

05/24/2005 Seven laws of information risk management.

05/24/2005 Lufthansa passengers get first ever free Internet above the 

05/23/2005 Visual Basic developers jump ship for other languages.

05/23/2005 Insightful wins intelligence contracts for text analysis; 
military leaders see significant value and innovation in InFact text 
analysis product.


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