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.
- 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.
Six Sigma is often thought of as a statistic heavy method and to some degree that is true. But the truth about statistics is if you don’t understand what they are trying to tell you, then they are just numbers on a page. The good news is that the purpose of Six Sigma metrics generally fall into 3 categories: can I make it better, can I make it faster or can I make it cheaper.
Basic Metrics Help Me Make It Better
These metrics are typically Defects per Unit (DPU), Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO) and Rolled Throughput Yield (RTY). The purpose of these metrics is to decide whether you can eliminate waste and increase the quality of your end product. This is a metric that will not create an almost answer, you will identify and work from a root cause perspective.
Basic Metrics Help Me Make it Faster
This measurement deals almost exclusively with cycle time, this category is almost singularly concerned with reducing production and delivery time. Focus on the cycle time requires you to focus on the process from cradle to grave. You are looking very much to reduce variations and eliminate non value added activities.
Basic Metrics Help Me Lower Cost
This metric requires you to deal with the cost of poor quality (COPD). If this is a measurement that you are using, your purpose is to find out where the quality problem is, how much it is costing the organization and how to eliminate it.
This is a basic summation of how you will decide what type of metrics to use, next week we will go into detail about specific metrics. Knowing why you are measuring something and what you need those measurements to tell you is the most important part of your 6Sigma project. Your belt will be able to walk you through a specific measurement and offer advice as to whether or not it is the best metric to use.
Picking up where we left off last week, we have hit the home stretch in creating a Six Sigma framework for your organization. So let’s go over the last steps in creating your framework…
Create and Validate Measurement Dashboards
This is one of the more poignant parts of Six Sigma and it’s one of the parts that organizations most often get wrong. One of the best things about Six Sigma is its ability to expose meaningless metrics. A few years ago companies got in the habit of measuring everything, but unless the measurement will help you reach a business goal, increase quality or increase customer satisfaction, it isn’t a meaningful statistic. By validating the measurements you are forced to look at what your measuring, how you are measuring it and what those measurements mean. Putting the measurements on a dashboard means that you are committing yourself to a constant awareness of those statistics, and that is not a bad thing. It breeds accountability and problem solving, both great skills to develop in your staff.
Decide How to Incorporate Six Sigma Wins/Losses Into Your Reward System
I have always been a bit undecided on reward systems, but I am hands down in favor of recognition and praise. The key to a successful Six Sigma infrastructure is to engrain the behavior into your corporate reward system. The great thing about 6Sigma is that it is continuous, which means in terms of a reward system there will always be something to recognize and therefore reward.
Decide the Amount of Dedicated Resources
To succeed, Six Sigma needs to have a dedicated amount of financial, intellectual, staff and infrastructural resources. I’ve always said and will say again, that Six Sigma is not a quick fix. It is a methodology that requires a total commitment to seeing the project through to the end. That journey also requires those involved to acknowledge the need for and to implement change. So if you are thinking of assigning a part-time champion or resources on a trial basis, 6Sigma is probably not the program for you. If you are looking for a long-term solution, then you are ready to walk down the aisle.
Create a Strategy of Continuous Evaluation
Six Sigma requires that you always be diligent and that is what makes most people oppose it. Let’s be frank the requirements in the beginning ask for a lot of heavy lifting and to keep this marriage happy, you have to keep going to therapy and working on the issues. It never ends and that is what is great about Six Sigma, it doesn’t allow you to quit even when it looks like you don’t need it. You never get to say I’m perfect and that’s perfect because no company is omnipotent and you should never take your clients for granted.
Next week we will recap what we have learned about creating a Six Sigma infrastructure, until then…what are you waiting for? Go get started!