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Lean-6, The Next Level quality standard

Successful companies all know that in order to improve, each process within its "Value Stream" must first be standardized. And due to the tremendous impact the supply chain has on a "Value Stream", it has become essential for businesses to require their suppliers to adopt and implement a Quality Management System (QMS) standard.

While there are several popular QMS standards available, the vast majority of these are best described as "entry level" standards focusing on the most basic and fundamental quality concepts. And because these rudimentary QMS standards tend to focus on organizations who previously had no formal QMS, there has been an increasing demand for a more sophisticated QMS standard designed to meet the needs of businesses who have supplier requirements exceeding those provided by an "entry point" standard.

SQSA recognized this need for a more modern and robust "Next Level" QMS standard. And that inspired us to create the "Lean-6" Quality Management Systems (QMS) standard.

The Lean-6 QMS Standard

Acknowledging that many businesses lack the internal expertise and knowledge of a Supply Chain Quality Professional to develop meaningful quality requirements for suppliers, SQSA developed the "Lean-6" QMS standard to provide "Business-to-Business" (B2B) users a standardized set of minimum QMS requirements to:

  • serve as criteria for suppliers to pursue in order to achieve a preferred supplier status, or
  • invoke (via Purchase Orders or Contracts) on suppliers where a high degree of consistency and reliability is required (e.g., complex, highly technical and/or mission critical products and/or services)

Compliance with the "Lean-6" standard may also be voluntarily implemented; in order to differentiate a business from its competitors.

For mediocre suppliers who are struggling to satisfy basic quality requirements, the "Lean-6" QMS standard will provide a solid foundation upon which to structure their improvement efforts. And for suppliers who have already begun implementing Lean Six Sigma, the "Lean-6" standard will be a natural progression.

Upon its formal adoption, the "Lean-6" QMS standard will continue to be freely available for your suppliers to download.

Lean-6 Downloads

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"Lean-6" FINAL DRAFT#3 Standard (US) PDF - Dated 2020-10-15 (6.3M)

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Proposed Changes Form (MS Word)

Contact SQSA if you would like the "Proposed Changes" form in a different file format (e.g., ".odt")

Lean-6 Key Features

Upon reviewing the "Lean-6" QMS Standard, you’ll notice that it is very different from any other QMS Standard you’ve ever seen. The most immediate difference is that it is structured as a "Value Stream" fed by tributaries representing Kaoru Ishikawa’s 6Ms.

In addition to covering the common QMS concepts, it promotes implementation of Lean Six Sigma. And as a "Next Level" standard, it includes much more comprehensive and robust requirements, such as:

  • Establishment AND achievement of the following minimum quality performance levels:
    •  ≥ 99.80% Products/Services Delivered Defect-Free (or ≥ 4.38 Sigma Short Term (ZST))
    •  ≥ 98.00% On-Time Delivery (or ≥ 3.55 Sigma Short Term (ZST))
  • A minimum of at least one formal "Kaizen"/"Rapid Improvement" event, DMAIC Project, or equivalent structured improvement activity affecting a core or supporting process, each calendar year
  • A “Failure Mode and Effects Analysis” (FMEA), or equivalent, to be performed, documented and maintained for each core process
  • “Process Mapping” and “Value Stream Verification” (VSV)
  • Implementation of 5S and a FOD (Foreign Object Damage/Debris) prevention program
  • Competence in the use of M&TE (Measuring and Test Equipment) and application of “Accuracy Ratios” in measurements
  • “Containment” when nonconforming products/services are identified
  • Addressing nonconformities through a formal FMEA process rather than perpetuating the chronic identification of all nonconformities as resulting from “special cause” variations - to be addressed through a corrective action system... without regard (or understanding) of “common cause” variations.
  • All packaging (for shipment) to be in accordance with ASTM D3951, "Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging", unless otherwise specified by the customer

In order to promote consistent interpretation and application, the Lean-6 QMS Standard also includes several flagged, color-coded, text blocks containing interpretative clarifications and explanations regarding the "intent" of many requirements.

We encourage all businesses serious about supplier quality, to review and comment on the DRAFT Lean-6 Quality Management Systems standard.

Lean-6 Review & Release Timeline

Development of the "Lean-6" QMS standard began during early 2016. After 2 years of development, "Committee" DRAFTS began being released during March 2019. Due to (1) a very large increase in participants during Q4 2019 and (2) delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the reviews were extended. The first "Final Review" was limited to the committee members. The second "Final Review" focused on users. The third "Final Review" focused on external partners (e.g., training companies and consultants).

The "Final" release had been planned for Q1, 2021. However, the committee decided to separate the standard into two parts in order to reduce the size of the total document. The standard itself will remain focused on requirements with only key interpretative guidance. A second document will be created to focus only on interpretative & implementation guidance. The final release is now planned for either Q3 or Q4 2021.

Lean-6TM QMS Certification / Registration

Upon final approval and release of the Lean-6 QMS Standard, SQSA will begin approving training providers to train SQSA Lean-6 auditors and accrediting Certification Bodies (CBs) for the purpose of offering consistent Lean-6TM QMS registration. All Lean-6TM registered companies will be listed in a single, centralized online SQSA database allowing customers to verify which suppliers have been independently verified as consistently satisfying the Lean-6 QMS requirements.


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SQSA Home Page Lean-6TM Auditor Certification


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