PDSS - Product Development Systems & Solutions
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Leading the Future in Product Development

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Question: We already have a state-of-the-art product development process.  What can Six Sigma for Growth do for us?

Answer: Having a solid product development process is a good starting point, but history has shown over and over that it is insufficient.  The processes come apart and degrade over time.  In robustness terms, they were not insensitive to assignable causes of variation within the corporation.  DFSS helps make your phase-gate process stable, robust and tunable.  When you achieve that, your cycle time becomes predictable.

Implementing DFSS within your product development process provides enhancement to functional excellence.  It fills the gaps between college education and your company's legacy of yearly training courses that, in part, build the foundation of functional excellence.  Most companies are not functionally excellent.  They do not have strong linkage between their classical educational components, ongoing training and the designed flow of phased work and gated deliverables in the context of clear, unambiguous requirements.  This is the arena where DFSS provides the necessary functional excellence.  It is not a coincidence that GE, 3M and many other companies have gone the extra mile to add DFSS discipline to their Phase-Gate and Project Management processes.  It is a hard fork in the road to take but to be functionally excellent you have to do it.  Why are Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Anika Sorenstam so capable? Because they have process discipline AND functional excellence.  It takes both.  DFSS extends your functional excellence in product development.

Question: Our teams are plenty busy right now.  Why should we add the extra work that Six Sigma for Growth requires?

Answer: We often hear from our prospective clients, "We are doing too much work today! We can't ask our people to do one more thing!" In reality, many teams are doing too little work, for two reasons:

  1. Too many projects are being done at the same time and the product development teams are under-resourced.  On a relative basis, too much work is assigned to too few resources.  Tasks do not get completely finished and upper management is unaware of this fore-shortened work, which results in anemic and disconnected deliverables (gaps).  When tasks don't get done fully and completely— risk accrues across your phases.  So cycle time grows in proportion to fore-shortened work patterns that are directly traceable to doing too many projects at once.
  2. The actual application of a balanced set of tools, methods and best practices is anemic. The team has to cut corners on how much work they do, and as a result, tool applications are incomplete and partial.  Again, your team may say, "Ask (pay) me to rush and I will.  I will do the best I can with the time you give me and then we will have to come back and clean up the problems later."  This is why companies need so many DMAIC Six Sigma projects in the post-launch environment.  DFSS will eventually diminish your need to do costly, reactive DMAIC projects.

Of concern to executive management, the value of Six Sigma for Growth comes in just two financial packages:

  1. Higher fulfillment of the initial business case for a given product development project as a part of your complete product portfolio across your business units.
  2. Reduction in COPQ and warranty due to previously released products that are now in need of corrective action to stop the hemorrhaging of money.  You can also use DFSS to cut costs on low margin designs even though you do not have a customer perceived quality or reliability problem.  In that case, DFSS takes cost out of a design while maintaining the quality.

Question: What will happen if I just train my engineers on DFSS or any other form of Six Sigma for Growth? Do I really need to have executives, managers and project leaders leading the Six Sigma for Growth initiative?

Answer: You will see initial excitement over the approach of integrating DFSS into the phases of product commercialization.  Over time (a few months or so) managers and leaders who have not bought in to the approach will force the old habits back into play and your investment in Six Sigma for Growth will decay in about a year or two.  Executives who are disconnected from the product development process and the summary results from DFSS and the other forms of Six Sigma for Growth will wonder what happened.  Passive behavior from senior management will kill the sustainability of Six Sigma for Growth.  Likewise, if you don't spend any time with your children, they grow up like wild weeds, and when you finally catch up with them you may be quite shocked at what habits they have formed while you were off doing other things.  See PDSS' Leadership & Champion Training.

Question: We develop and commercialize very complex systems.  Is there a linkage between DFSS and systems engineering that will help us design and integrate better systems?

Answer: Yes.  This is another area where PDSS is the only firm that has developed expertise in the use of DFSS-enhanced Systems Engineering for Technology Development & Product Commercialization. This is a unique core competency that we possess at PDSS.  Many of our consultants had long careers as systems engineers, working on systems architecting, systems engineering and systems integration.  We know DFSS inside and out, we know how to integrate it into the flow of work that a systems engineering team performs and we have successfully done it at a number of clients.  Many of our team at PDSS are members of INCOSE and we are fully capable of integrating DFSS with CMMI standards.

Question: How important are gate reviews during the product development process? Will we be successful in Six Sigma for Growth if we just use the tools but don't have discipline and rigor in our gates?

Answer: Our most successful clients (for example, 3M) invested heavily in management training and coaching for outstanding risk management and decision making in technology / design / marketing reviews prior to major gate reviews.  If you hope to change for the better, you must work on gate keeping, risk management and decision making skills and the clear communication of requirements to your teams doing the work.  If you don't have clear requirements, your teams will work hard at creating too much data that is not does not support your true objectives.  The teams may end up doing a lot of unnecessary, iterative design work in hopes of eventually satisfying ambiguous requirements.  Decisiveness in the face of clear requirements and great summary data is fundamental to your ability to sustain growth.  See PDSS' Gate Keeping Skill Coaching product for more information.

Question: Does PDSS offer public courses?

Answer: PDSS does not offer public courses at this time.