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Process Ownership: Key to Sustained Six Sigma Success

Process Ownership: Key to Sustained Six Sigma Success

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology that aims to improve business processes by reducing defects and variations. It has gained significant popularity in various industries due to its ability to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction. However, implementing Six Sigma successfully requires more than just tools and techniques. It requires a strong focus on process ownership, which plays a crucial role in sustaining the benefits of Six Sigma initiatives. In this article, we will explore the concept of process ownership and its importance in achieving sustained Six Sigma success.

1. Understanding Process Ownership

Process ownership refers to the assignment of responsibility and accountability for a specific business process to an individual or a team. It involves empowering individuals to take ownership of the entire process, from start to finish, and ensuring its continuous improvement. Process owners are responsible for defining process objectives, monitoring performance, identifying improvement opportunities, and implementing changes.

Process ownership is different from traditional functional ownership, where individuals are responsible for specific tasks within a process. In Six Sigma, process ownership transcends functional boundaries and focuses on the end-to-end process, enabling a holistic approach to improvement.

2. The Role of Process Owners in Six Sigma

Process owners play a critical role in the success of Six Sigma initiatives. They act as champions of the process, driving its improvement and ensuring its alignment with organizational goals. Here are some key responsibilities of process owners:

  • Defining process objectives: Process owners are responsible for setting clear and measurable objectives for the process. These objectives should align with the overall goals of the organization and reflect the needs and expectations of customers.
  • Monitoring process performance: Process owners continuously monitor the performance of the process using relevant metrics and data. They analyze the data to identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement.
  • Identifying improvement opportunities: Based on the analysis of process performance, process owners identify improvement opportunities. They collaborate with cross-functional teams to develop and implement improvement projects.
  • Implementing changes: Process owners lead the implementation of process changes and improvements. They ensure that the changes are effectively communicated, understood, and adopted by all stakeholders.
  • Ensuring sustainability: Process owners are responsible for ensuring the sustainability of process improvements. They establish control mechanisms, develop standard operating procedures, and provide training and support to employees.

3. Benefits of Process Ownership in Six Sigma

Process ownership brings several benefits to Six Sigma initiatives, contributing to their sustained success. Here are some key benefits:

  • Clear accountability: Process ownership clarifies accountability for process performance and improvement. When individuals or teams take ownership of a process, they become responsible for its outcomes, leading to increased accountability and motivation.
  • End-to-end perspective: Process owners have a holistic view of the entire process, enabling them to identify interdependencies, bottlenecks, and improvement opportunities. This end-to-end perspective helps in eliminating silos and improving overall process efficiency.
  • Effective decision-making: Process owners have the authority to make decisions related to the process. This empowerment enables them to make timely and informed decisions, leading to faster problem-solving and improved process performance.
  • Continuous improvement culture: Process ownership fosters a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. When individuals take ownership of their processes, they become more proactive in identifying and implementing improvements, leading to a continuous cycle of learning and growth.
  • Enhanced customer focus: Process owners are responsible for understanding customer requirements and aligning the process to meet those requirements. This customer-centric approach leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Best Practices for Establishing Process Ownership

Establishing effective process ownership is crucial for sustained Six Sigma success. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Clearly define process boundaries: Clearly define the scope and boundaries of each process to avoid ambiguity and overlapping responsibilities. This clarity helps in assigning ownership and accountability effectively.
  • Select the right process owners: Choose individuals or teams who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and authority to take ownership of the process. Consider their experience, expertise, and ability to collaborate across functions.
  • Provide training and support: Ensure that process owners receive adequate training and support to fulfill their responsibilities effectively. This includes training on Six Sigma methodologies, data analysis, project management, and leadership skills.
  • Establish performance metrics: Define clear and measurable performance metrics for each process. These metrics should align with organizational goals and provide a basis for monitoring and evaluating process performance.
  • Promote cross-functional collaboration: Encourage collaboration and communication between process owners and other stakeholders. This collaboration helps in identifying improvement opportunities, sharing best practices, and driving organizational alignment.
  • Recognize and reward ownership: Recognize and reward individuals or teams who demonstrate exceptional ownership and drive process improvements. This recognition reinforces the importance of process ownership and motivates others to take ownership.

5. Case Study: Process Ownership in a Manufacturing Company

To illustrate the importance of process ownership in Six Sigma, let’s consider a case study of a manufacturing company that implemented Six Sigma to improve its production process.

The company assigned process ownership to a cross-functional team consisting of representatives from production, quality control, and engineering. The team took ownership of the entire production process, from raw material procurement to finished product delivery.

The process owners defined clear objectives for the production process, focusing on reducing defects, improving cycle time, and increasing overall equipment effectiveness. They monitored process performance using key metrics such as defect rate, cycle time, and equipment downtime.

Based on the analysis of process performance, the process owners identified several improvement opportunities. They collaborated with the production team to implement changes such as optimizing machine settings, improving preventive maintenance practices, and implementing visual management techniques.

The process owners ensured the sustainability of the improvements by developing standard operating procedures, providing training to operators, and establishing control mechanisms to monitor adherence to the new processes.

As a result of effective process ownership, the manufacturing company achieved significant improvements in its production process. Defect rates decreased by 30%, cycle time reduced by 20%, and overall equipment effectiveness increased by 15%. These improvements led to cost savings, increased customer satisfaction, and improved competitiveness in the market.


Process ownership is a key factor in achieving sustained Six Sigma success. It involves assigning responsibility and accountability for a specific process to individuals or teams who take ownership of the entire process, from start to finish. Process owners play a critical role in defining process objectives, monitoring performance, identifying improvement opportunities, implementing changes, and ensuring sustainability.

Process ownership brings several benefits to Six Sigma initiatives, including clear accountability, an end-to-end perspective, effective decision-making, a continuous improvement culture, and enhanced customer focus. To establish effective process ownership, organizations should clearly define process boundaries, select the right process owners, provide training and support, establish performance metrics, promote cross-functional collaboration, and recognize and reward ownership.

By embracing process ownership, organizations can unlock the full potential of Six Sigma and achieve sustained success in improving their business processes.

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