Process mapping is an excellent tool that doesn’t have to be monopolized by 6Sigma professionals. The best thing about a process map is the ability to illustrate the problem. Often times in an organization we understand that there is an issue, but we just don’t know what it is. Process mapping helps you to literally see the problem.
How does it work?
Like all things 6Sigma it can be as complicated or as simple as you would like for it to be, having said that there are a few steps that I think you should include in your mapping effort.
1. Define what you need to know.
2. Identify one process at a time and take the process from cradle to grave.
3. In the beginning, stick to linear maps and be sure to define decision points.
4. Identify if different departments/people participate in the process and define those elements.
What does it look like?
Bottom line –a process map should illustrate your steps and show your organization exactly where you are. When you know where you are, you know where to go. This is a minimum, but give us a call and we can help you with the specifics.
The Pareto principle, most commonly known as the 80-20 rule, is known by business owners as the simple fact that 80% of your problems are caused by 20% of the people. Really the theory was about wealth and power distribution, but the general premise applies. Most of your issues can be attributed to a fairly small distribution of root causes.
What does it look like?
What does it do?
A Pareto Charts work in levels to help you identify the root cause of the tallest bar (the biggest issue).
How do I use it?
The trick with Pareto is to start high and whittle away. What does that mean? It means that when you find out department A is supplying department b with all of the material that ends up in their rework, don’t go to department b and shut everything down. I know that it seems counterintuitive, but jumping the gun before you find out why that material ends up in the rework pile, leads to rework on department a’s part, causing more defects.
What doesn’t it do?
Pareto doesn’t provide an instant Ah-ha moment, it’s a method that requires patience and adherence to the process to be effective. If you need the answer now, it may not be the method for you. You may be better suited to process mapping or the 5 Why’s which will point you in a direction immediately. I have to say however, if you want the right answer validated by numbers then Pareto is right for you.
In 6Sigma the devil is in the details and a successful improvement initiative depends heavily on the selection of the right tool for the engagement. A successful selection depends heavily on the knowledge and skill of your belt, so use that library of knowledge and if that belt isn’t asking you a thousand questions about your end goal-move on!
6Sigma Tools: Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
6Sigma can be so many things to your organization, but the most important thing to remember is that is has to relevant to your organization. This requirement is what makes Design for Six Sigma or DFSS such an asset to any organization looking towards a lean strategy. Technically speaking DFSS is not 6Sigma but an alternative methodology, but I think the ability to integrate exists. DFSS if often used interchangeably with DMADV but the key difference is that DMADV is used to eliminate defects and variation, while DFSS is used to create new or replacement processes.
What is it?
DFSS stands for Design for Six Sigma and its main function is to assist in improvements by creating a new design or redesign of a product/service at base level. In essence it is the foundation on which process improvements can be built. It is a cross functional activity that relies on forecasting at its core. DFSS projects operate based on the IDOV methodology.
Why should I use it?
DFSS provides many advantages to your organization such as:
- Improved speed
- Improved accuracy
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Decreased labor costs
What does it look like?
The chart above is from sixsigmaworld.blogspot and it is the simplest version of DFSS that I have found.
What doesn’t it do?
DFSS is different from 6Sigma in the fact that it creates efficiency as the process is being built, whereas typical 6Sigma deals with improvements to variations and defects after a process has already been implemented. So if you are looking to correct an issue, DFSS is not going to help you much. If you are looking to scrap the current and begin again, then DFSS is a great fit.
As with all things on this blog, this is a technique best utilized with the guidance and expertise of your belt. I hoped I have demystified it a bit and helped you to start a dialogue with your belt.
DMAIC is a staple of Six Sigma methodology and like all things Six Sigma, the better your understanding of the tool the greater its abilities. So just what is DMAIC? Basically it’s a problem solving tool, what is great about it is that it specifically works with unknowns and teaches your staff how to use a lack of information to their advantage.
What is DMAIC?
Define: This is where you will put in the most work, because at this stage you will be setting the ground work for all of your changes. You will need to define everything here, specifically critical to quality variables and identified process problems.
Measure: Collect information and review data. The catch to this step is to ensure that your measurement systems are substantiated. When using measurements you will need to ensure that they are measuring specific data and that the measured data aligns with your organization’s goals. Not sure how to do this? Have a conversation with your belt and your executive team; they will point you in the right direction.
Analyze: In this step you will be asking your staff to study the relationship between processes and qualify their impact on the quality of your products or services. Ideally you will want knowledgeable staff involved in this process, but how do you start and what do you do? Talk to your belt, they can guide you effectively and easily through this process.
Improve: This is the area that will allow you to humanize 6Sigma from your staff by focusing less on measurements and more on innovation. You should be looking for suggestions and then moving on to a process of elimination. This is an area where I like to implement ‘dry runs’ of the solution to show me where the process improvements are realistic and where they are not.
Control: This is one of the most important parts of the process, but it can only occur once the other steps have been completed. Failure to complete the previous steps guarantees that you will be perfecting the wrong change. In this step, the devil is very much in the details. You must be vigilant and flexible; your belt will help you put together the best control strategy for your organization.
DMAIC is all about making a change work for your organization. You don’t have to produce complicated charts and statistics for it to work for your organization, but you do have to understand how it works. Although this is a simple summary, there is enough information to get started. When you are ready to get down to detail and create a DMAIC strategy, SPC can help.
Hoshin Planning is a strategic planning tool used to create strategic goals and a concrete strategy to implement them. The beauty of this method is that it treats everyone as an expert in their respective areas and everyone has the opportunity to provide improvement input. What I love about Hoshin Planning is that it tackles some of the most criticized element of 6Sigma- the lack of people focus. In Hoshin Planning everyone is aware of how it works because everyone contributes.
What does Hoshin Planning do?
In addition to providing a concrete strategic plan, a Hoshin Plan provide some definite benefits to organizations that chose to use it. A few common benefits are:
- The ability to create a common goal, particularly useful in large organizations.
- Creates a common language to articulate expectations and goals within the organization.
- Involves all stages of leadership.
- Creates accountability.
What does it look like?
There are a million ways to complete a Hoshin Plan, you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want. The illustration above is my interpretation of the plan at its simplest for general use. Hoshin Plans generally have six main areas: your current business situation, your recommendations/solutions, your strategies, your metrics and your timeframe for completion. The current business situation should describe the challenge or situation you are trying to solve. The recommendations/solutions section should be the place where your solution brainstorming happens. This is where the employee involvement takes a concrete form and this is the place to be creative.
The strategies section is where you assign accountability for the accepted strategies. Remember that this is a cooperative area as well; you want to be sure that your staff participated in the selection and assignment of strategies.
The metrics section is where you will decide what constitutes a success and how that success will be measured. As with all things 6Sigma, the clearer these metrics are the more likely they are to succeed. The final section will be the time frame for these strategies to be implemented and the time frame can and will vary according to your organizations needs.
When to use it
Although Hoshin is one of my favorite tools it is only useful when you already have daily measures and controls in place. The accuracy of your plan assumes that you already do, so if you are creating a strategy that needs everything create those measurements and controls first, then employ Hoshin.
As always this is a very simplistic introduction to Hoshin Planning, individual plans will be more complicated so please see your 6Sigma professional before you get started.