Six Sigma Tools: Understanding Data
This blog is about Six Sigma data analysis. Because statistics are such a big part of the Six Sigma world, it makes sense that we talk about the data that is gathered and what it means. So here we go….
There are different types of data and anytime you measure something you going to need how to interpret it. There are two main types of data: attributive and variable.
Some people call this the most basic form of data, but for business purposes I don’t accept that. Qualitative data is simple in the fact that it is generally data that can be gathered by asking a yes or no question. For example, ‘Did they buy the new product?’ What is limiting about attributive data is that you really can’t analyze the results in a meaningful way, but it can give you a pretty good place to set your focus.
Variable data is also called quantitative and this is the data that you can measure and analyze. In order to decide if data you have is variable ask yourself these questions:
- Can you classify the data and count the results? (Think number of defects for a particular product line)? If you can this is called discrete data and the limitation of discrete data is that it cannot be broken down into smaller measurements to create additional meaning. It’s a one hit wonder.
- Can the data be measured on a time line with meaningful divisions (Think time, production speed, delivery dates etc…) If you can this is called continuous data and it can be divided further to create additional data.
As with all of these blogs, this is to get you started and statistical data clearly has more to it than one paragraph. But information is the first step and one you know what type of data you have, you have a better idea of what you need to know. Give us call and we can help you create where you need to go next.