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Design for Six Sigma DFSS


DFSS is a business process focussed on improving profitability by introducing a methodology that helps companies to generate the right product or service at the right time at the right cost.  It is an enhancement to new product development processes and provides the tools and teamwork to develop a successful new product or service.

DFSS has its roots in systems engineering and so management of requirements guides and drives the entire lifecycle processes.  Thus requirements capture, understanding and flow-down are key elements of DFSS.

Customer-oriented design is a development process of transforming customers’ wants into design solutions that are useful to the customer.  This process is carried over several phases starting from a conceptual phase.   The figure below shows the product development lifecycle and illustrates the different phases throughout product development.


In the concept phase, conceiving, evaluating, and selecting good design solutions are difficult tasks with enormous consequences. Design and manufacturing companies usually operate in two modes:

  • fire prevention, conceiving feasible and healthy conceptual entities;
  • firefighting, problem solving such that the design entity can live up to its committed potentials.

Unfortunately, the latter mode consumes the largest portion of the organization’s human and non-human resources; the DFSS methodology therefore aims to encourage companies to focus on translating customer wants and needs into the design process early in the product development lifecycle to reduce the need for costly firefighting activities. 

Design for Six Sigma is thus a systematic methodology for designing or redesigning products or services according to customer requirements and expectations.  DFSS project teams integrate characteristics of Six Sigma at the outset of development with a disciplined set of tools. 

The Figure above highlights when DFSS is conducted relative to the product lifecycle.   It illustrates the cost impact of making changes throughout the product life cycle and emphasizes the point that making changes early is most cost effective.