A global study on applicability of ISO 18404:2015 for SMEs: an exploratory qualitative study

Jiju Antony, Vikas Swarnakar, Willem Salentijn, Alireza Shokri, Mehran Doulatabadi, Shreeranga Bhat, Olivia Mcdermott, Raja Jayaraman, Michael Sony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – ISO18404:2015 standard defines the proficiencies to the attainment of distinct competency levels with either Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma or separately combined strategy Lean Six Sigma (LSS). The purpose of this paper is to perform a detailed investigation of the applicability of current Lean Six Sigma (LSS) competency standard in SMEs and examine the need for further improvement.

Design/Methodology/Approach – A qualitative-based semi-structured interview method was utilized globally by interviewing a group of LSS professionals with knowledge about the LSS implementation working in different leading organizations. All participants were asked to review the standard before the interview process to ensure that they are familiar with the standard.

Findings – The results reveal that the current ISO 18404:2015 standard does not fit SMEs to implement the LSS approach as it has several shortfalls that need to be fixed before its adoption or an urgent need to develop a more customised LSS standard for SMEs. The outcome further helps organizations understand theoretical knowledge about ISO18404:2015, its role in operational excellence implementation, pros, cons, critical success factors and required changes for further improvement within the standard.

Research limitations/implications –There were very limited baseline studies in the literature. A mixed method strategy that includes qualitative and quantitative data would yield better data so that more robust outcomes can be derived from the research.

Originality/value – To the best of authors' knowledge, this is the first empirical research on the applicability of ISO 18404:2015 for SMEs, which encapsulate opinions of LSS professionals working in several SMEs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1934
Number of pages18
JournalTQM Journal
Issue number7
Early online date4 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'A global study on applicability of ISO 18404:2015 for SMEs: an exploratory qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this