7 Reasons why Six Sigma Will Fail in Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Six Sigma Will Fail
05 Jul

There is a need for small & medium size companies to recognize the benefits of Six Sigma rather than being suspicious of a buyer’s motives, if they ask them to use Six Sigma tools! So what are the reasons why Six Sigma Will Fail?

A buying firm also needs to ensure strong commitment to Six Sigma training programmes that develop the SME’s long-term capability rather than as a means of immediate results to strengthen the relationship between the SME and the large counterpart.

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Six Sigma in Small Companies


Research suggests that key elements for successful deployment of Six Sigma tools in SMEs are: proactive customers and suppliers, commitment to long-term relationships, continuous improvement mentality, creating learning opportunities that are appropriate to the smaller organisations and a win-win philosophy.

The common critical success factors (CSFs) for both Lean and Six Sigma implementation in SMEs outlined in research articles by Kumar (2007) and Achanga et al. (2006) are: leadership commitment and management involvement, organisational culture and resource, in terms of education and training. I thought it would be good idea to list the main issues I have identified as barriers for Six Sigma deployment in SMEs in my 10 years Supply Chain and Supplier Development experience along with these CSF:

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7 Reasons why Six Sigma Will Fail in SMEs:


  1. Limited financial resources/High Cost
  2. Limited people resources & talent pool
  3. Lack of Management experience/ Leadership engagement
  4. Lack of systematic training & development/ non-recognition of training needs
  5. Multi-hat roles/lack of time
  6. Possible resistance to change
  7. Less exposure of management innovators in other industries / Lack of knowledge about six sigma


Since adding more resources won’t be a practical answer in current business for business owners, what would be your suggestion to overcome these barriers? Please do write me 1 or 2 to carry the debate further and help the supply chain and procurement community

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