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Data Specifications: What You Need to Know

published on January 20, 2014

Last week we talked about understanding data and to continue with that thread, I want to talk about the specifics of collecting data. There are a few things to consider when you are deciding how to capture your data and before you make a decision consider these questions:

  • What part of your business is making the requirements? Are you responding to customer service issues? Are you responding to due diligence requirements or compliance issues? Are you redesigning a product?
  • How stable are the requirements? Is this a validated process or is it likely to change in the near future?
  • How does your staff understand the process? Is information relayed directly to the personnel using the process or is it a trickle down environment?

Before you even begin to consider how to change the way you collect your data, you have to understand how it’s currently being done. The first thing to think about during capability studies is that when a capability study is conducted all of the information is included in the sample data; because of this you need to have a good understanding of short-term data and long-term data.

Short term data

  • Is data that is collected during a very short, very specific period of time. For instance you may be looking for the errors that occur during the late shift on Wednesday.
  • Is generally free of special cause variation.
  • Commonly represents best case performance.
  • Generally has more than 30 data points.

Long-term data

  • Collected for a longer period of time, usually monthly or quarterly, through various periods of time.
  • Contains common and special cause variations.
  • More accurate representation of performance.
  • Generally has more than 100 data points.

Understanding the way you collect data helps you make the most accurate analysis and leads to more refined business decisions. Understanding data can give you the tools to empower your employees in a meaningful way, taking the emotion out of business and offering a chance for data driven decisions.

published on January 20, 2014

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