Maybe you've heard the phrase "Lean Six Sigma" in the news or at work. This management strategy was developed by Motorola in the 1980s to reduce manufacturing defects, but it's applicable to a wide range of business models. The "sigma" refers to defect rates; "six sigma" is the very low rate Motorola set as its goal, and it's also shorthand for the lean processes that achieved it. Lean6 from Leanmap is a set of free Excel worksheets for implementing Six Sigma techniques. While you might think it's geared strictly toward those users already familiar with Six Sigma concepts, it includes plenty of help for new users, including examples that do a great job illustrating those concepts with cold, hard numbers. It includes a range of "Free" worksheets or workbooks as well as some "See" tools that only work in the Pro version. We tried Lean6, aka Free Six Sigma for Excel, in Office 2010.
We extracted Lean6's worksheets to a chosen directory and clicked a worksheet to open Excel. We started with the Six Sigma Tool Overview and Project Charter sheets, which gave a general feel of what we were getting into. Lean6's worksheets have names like Process Framework SIPOC and Cause Effect Diagram Fishbone, and we admit to being pretty much at sea when it comes to using them for actual work. But there is no doubt that they are very well designed, with clearly labeled features and plenty of explanations.
Lean6's worksheets are like any Excel templates; we saved our spreadsheets under a specific name and then opened them for use with our own data, and none of the free tools gave us any trouble. The See tools aren't functional, of course, but they give users a full look at what they offer before they pay for an upgrade. We suspect that most people will find the free worksheets more than enough to stay busy with while learning to implement Six Sigma.