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The DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) is based on the principles of 6 sigma to set up a customer-centric process from product design.


The DFSS, design for Six Sigma is the pendant of the 6 sigma for design. It focuses on the process of designing new products/Service/process. It allows to increase the quality and the predictability of customer satisfaction in the upstream phases of the projects.  recognized for its structuring force of the design process via DMADV, it has the advantage of being a mechanistic and generalizable procedure for most sectors of activity.

” doing the right product “2


This was Motorola which first developed a Road-Map of tools to extend the 6 Sigma to product design in the years 1980-19903.  The proposed approach allowed General Electric to introduce a scanner 9 times faster and 10 times more reliable than the scanners of the time. After this success, GE deployed the DFSS throughout its organization and other companies took the step4.

DFSS issue

Where a 6 Sigma approach focuses on problem solving, the DFSS intervenes upstream of the production. This approach is based on the observation that 10-20% of the costs are disbursed during the design phase, but the decisions made commit to 70 to 80% of the costs of a project5. Hence the objective of reliable these decisions.

The creators of DFSS have set up a Road Map of tools designed to structure the design process and improve decision making. As such, the DFSS allows:

  • Quantify the relationship between customer satisfaction, product functions and criteria, and production parameters.
  • Translating customer satisfaction into a parameter to the fairest, allowing to conceive at the most accurate and avoid the Muda of over-Conception.
  • Reduce the possibility of error by asking the right questions.
  • Introduce and prioritize in a structured process all the data of the project : Customer need, manufacturing constraint, strategic need…
  • Reduce marketing Time

Also, the demonstration was made that the DFSS makes it possible to drastically reduce the number of changes and evolution of the product (figure below). The DFSS induces a paradigm shift, where a development in a mode of responsiveness to the market (where customer expectations are met, competition and discovers manufacturing problems once the product is launched) to a mode of Productivity: ” We no longer test the quality, we conceive it “6.

Source: S. Chowdhury (2002) – Design for Six Sigma: The revolutionary process for achieving extraordinary profits

The road map of DFSS 

In the same way as the DMAIC for the 6 Sigma, the implementation of the DFSS is based on a deployment methodology. There are a large number of which the best known are

  • DMADV : Define, measure, analyze, Design, Verify
  • DMADOV : Define, measure, analyze, Design, Optimize, Verify
  • DMADO : Define, measure, analysis, Design, Optimize
  • CDOV : Concept, Design, Optimize, Verify
  • ICOV : Identify, Characterize, Optimize, Verify
  • IDEAS: Identify, Design, evaluate, assert, Scale p
  • OAOV: Object, Analyse, Optimize, Verify
  • DMEDI: Define, measure, explore, Design, Implement
  • IDOV : Identify, Design, Optimize, Validate
  • IIDOV (also called I2DOV)  : Invention, Innovation, Develop, Optimize, Verify
  • IDDOV : Identify, Define, Develop, Optimize, Verify
  • DCCDI : Define, Customer, Concept, Design, Implemen

THE DMADV Is the most used road map. It represents more than 47% of uses7 and 8. However, depending on the contexts, some will be more relevant:

  • DMADV : used mainly for an incremental improvement whether it is for a product, a service or a process in the desire to reduce costs and improve quality9
  • .IDOV/IDDOV : more suitable for product or new technology improvements and particularly for the introduction of a new product into a new market10 and 11.
  • DCCDI : to create a new market,  It is most appropriate because it will push further investigations to the level of customer needs12.
  • ICOV/CDOV : more suitable for product-related improvements than for services with a focus on optimization13.
  • DMADOV : very close to the DMADV, it is more accurate for product development also due to this phase of optimization14.


The DFSS intervenes upstream of the 6 Sigma, from the design phases to the production stage. The 6 Sigma intervenes in the production phase and throughout the lifetime of the product or service.

Thus, where the inputs of the 6 Sigma are data on problems related to existing products or processes, the input of the DFSS is data on customer needs related to products/Service/process not yet existing


1 – T. Vanzant-Stern (2012) – Lean Six Sigma : International Standards and global guidelines

2 – R. Anderson, H. Eriksson, H. Torstensson (2006) – Similarities and differences between TQM, Six Sigma and Lean

3 – S. H. Park (2003) – Six Sigma for quality and productivity

4 – M. J. Harry, R. Schroeder (2000) – Six Sigma: The Breakthough management strategy revolutionizing the world’s top corporations

5 – C. Midler, v. Gay (1996)-Project Management and Management: Balance sheet and Outlook

6 – C. Staudter, S Lunau (2009) – Design For Six Sigma + Lean toolset

7 – T. Pyzdek (2003) – The Six Sigma Handbook

8 – R. Agarwal (2006) – Managing Outsourcing

9 – d. M. Chatt, M. E. Hendricks, D. C. Wintersteen (2008) – Joint Design for electronics Cooling Heat Exchangers Project Example

10 – C. M. Creveling, J. Slutscky, D. Antis (2003) – Design for Six Sigma in technology and product development

11 – G. Tennant (2002)-Design for Six Sigma: launching new products and services without failure

12 – L. Stauffer, T. Pawar (2007) – A Comparison of systematic design and design for Six Sigma

13 – L. J. Lara (2012) – Implementation of Design for Six Sigma on mass-customization companies

14 – H. B. Bebb, J. E. McMunigal (2006) – Design for Six Sigma: a mandate for competitiveness

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