Abstract In the software industry, Hong and Goh  address some common misconceptions on the potential of Six Sigma in software, as well as some actual practical challenges. A framework is suggested both for top managers and practitioners and for managers interested in exploiting the benefits of statistical analysis in general, and the Six Sigma statistical process in particular.
Six Sigma in the service sector 1. 1 Six Sigma in healthcare A wide range of research has been conducted on Six Sigma applied to the various other aspects in the healthcare delivery system: direct care delivery, administrative support, and financial administration.
Other important areas of the application of Six Sigma in healthcare include improving antibiotic timing  and emergency department activities in a hospital , the incidence of catheter-related bloodstream infections in a surgical unit , improving hand hygiene, producing timely and accurate claims reimbursement , streamlining the process of healthcare delivery, and reducing the inventory of surgical equipment and related costs . Hill et al  report on a national surgical infection prevention (NSIP) project that provides quality tools and measures to improve surgical patient safety in the USA.
Measures include antibiotic administration within one hour of incision, and appropriate antibiotic choice. The historical data revealed a 37% compliance with surgical prophylactic antibiotic timing, and a 67% compliance with correct antibiotic selection. A team for antibiotic timing and antibiotic choice in surgery (ATACS) was formed, and it utilises that methodology: define, measure, analyse, improve, and control.
The team’s objectives were to improve antibiotic delivery from 37% to 90%, targeting an administration time of 30 minutes prior to incision, and to improve prophylactic antibiotic selection compliance from 67% to 95% by a specified date. Antibiotic timing compliance improved 162%, from 37% (Mean = 71, SD [Standard deviation[ = 34, N = 64) to 97% (Mean = 27, SD = 11, n = 87) (P = 0. 000). Compliance with correct antibiotic selection was improved by from 67% (36/52) to 97% (82/84) (P = 0. 000). Preventing process failure was demonstrated by decreased risk scores.
Mary and Wing  describe the sigma project spear-headed by a number of top managers, such as trust chief executives and unit general managers. It involves 16 sites and nearly 30 individual initiatives at those sites. The region has provided pump-priming funding. By going for a fault-free service and getting it right first time, large productivity gains are being made. Since delays in obtaining laboratory results can have a direct impact on appropriate diagnosis, timely treatment and an overall length of stay for patients in the emergency departments of hospitals were ensured.
Woitas and Willemsen  improve the laboratory test turn-around time (time of order to the availability of test results) by applying a seven-step Six Sigma process to determine where the greatest opportunity for improvement exists in the emergency department of a hospital. The pre-data showed that the major delay was between the time of the laboratory order and the time when the blood was obtained (an average of 22. 3 minutes).
A new method incorporating criteria-based blood draws was implemented, which reduced the order-to-results time from an average of 45 minutes to an average of 15 minutes for patients meeting the criteria. Future research should address differences in treatment and outcomes for ED patients using this criteriabased system, changes in efficiency and work flow of ED care, and length of stay, and also assess patient, nurse, physician, and laboratory staff satisfaction.
1. 2 Computer Industry
In recent times, 3M, a giant company in the computer industry, has become one of the world’s major adopters and proponents of Six Sigma methodology. The company has demonstrated that Six Sigma could lead to higher quality output, increased productivity, and energised employees. Today, records available in the public domain indicate that more than 30,000 employees have been trained in Six Sigma, with plans to complete GreenBelt training for all salaried employees. Globally, over 11,000 projects have closed and more than 12,000 projects are currently underway.
Apart from implementing Six Sigma within the organization, 3M has demonstrated the need to assist their customers in developing creative solutions for their business and manufacturing challenges. Hundreds of 3M industrial business-customer Six Sigma projects have been accomplished. Here, three examples are given of a major automotive manufacturer, a well-known food producer, and a leading manufacturer who had quality problems. The automotive manufacturer had a significant challenge with its largest-selling vehicles.
3M assisted in using Six Sigma to provide a cost effective solution in a short time frame. The well-known food producer needed to keep track of the product that its makes and ships. In the event of a product recall, it needed to locate every food item shipped, right down to the hour it left the production line. With the assistance of the 3M Six Sigma project, 3M-developed packaging management software, and a Six Sigma control plan. 3M applied Six Sigma methodology, together with the in-house team of a leading manufacturer, to solve a quality issue with one of its needed product designs.
1. 3 Six Sigma in finance Kwak and Anbari  report that the Bank of America (BOA) is one of the pioneers in adopting and implementing Six Sigma concepts in order to streamline operations, attract and retain customers, and create competitiveness over credit unions. With several hundreds of Six Sigma projects in the areas of cross-selling, deposits, and problem resolution, BOA reports a 104% increase in customer satisfaction and a 24% decrease in customer problems after implementing Six Sigma .
American Express applied Six Sigma principles to remove external vendor processes and eliminate non-received renewal credit cards. The top management of other financial institutions, including GE Capital Corp. , JP Morgan Chase, and Sun Trust Banks are also using Six Sigma to focus on and improve customer requirements and satisfaction . References  Hong, G. Y. & Goh, T. N. , 2003. “Six Sigma in software quality”, The TQM Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 364-373.  Hill, S. , McDonald, J. , Dillow, R. , Al-Jamal, J.
, Michalik, J. & Fraser, V. , 2004. “Blue ribbon abstract award: Applying Six Sigma methodology for process improvement of antibiotic timing and antibiotic choice in the preoperative patient”, AJIC, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. E90-E91.  Hensley, R. L. & Bobie, K. , 2005. “Assessing readiness for Six Sigma in a service setting”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 82-101.  Woitas M. & Willemsen, K. , 2004. “Laboratory specimen turnaround time: A Six Sigma project”, Journal of Emergency Nursing, June, 2004.