This week we will continue our discussion on process mapping, I promise it will not go on forever, but it does have a lot of intricacies. Many people think that process mapping is just putting some shapes on a diagram, but it means much more than that. There are 3 levels of process mapping that are commonly accepted among the 6Sigma crowd.
Level 1 –The Macro Process Map
This is typically how management views the processes of the organization; it’s a big picture, future strategy kind of view. It also creates the ability for management to see how to position the organization or resources in a way that complements the product/service being created. This is a high-level map which generally includes:
- Activities that relate to one major process step
- How the process fits into the big picture
- Little specific detail
- Visualizes only major process steps
- Can be used with only a general understanding of the purpose of the process and its steps.
Level 2-Process Map
This is the worker bee process map, where the people who have specific knowledge of the process come in. This is the map that is used to identify all the major steps a worker takes to complete a process. Within Level 2, there are 4 types of process maps:
- Linear Flow- A straight line from beginning to end.
- Swim Lane-shows you who is responsible for what task.
- SIPOC-a little more complicated. It takes five areas: your suppliers, your inputs, your process, your outputs and your customers.
- Value Stream-a specific map that helps to visualize and understand the metrics for the performance of major steps.
Level 3-Process Flow Diagram
Level 3 is not a must because this is a micro process map. It is where you zero in on a specific area and focus on the steps in the process that are causing whatever challenge you are having. When beginning this level you need to ask the following questions:
- Which steps contributed to the problem?
- Where would the problem most likely have occurred?
- Are there elements to the product/service that lend itself to the problem?
These questions help you find the focus that you decided in your problem statement. For this to work you will have to break each step in the process down, most easily using SIPOC. Remember a Level 3 map should include:
- All process flows
- Any set points
- Any standard or automated procedures
- Inputs and outputs (specify if the are controllable or non-controllable)
- Defects per unit
- Yield and rolled throughput yield
- Value and non value added activities
It’s a lot of information, but mapping a process is a fundamental step in your improvement project. It is absolutely critical that you get it right. For more help or more information, give us a call and we will be happy to get you started.
One of the best things about Six Sigma is that it presents a concrete way to translate the value of improvements to your staff and leadership. A great tool to highlight the value of Six Sigma is Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ).
What is the Cost of Poor Quality?
COPD identifies the amount of lost profit an error in a process causes. This is the method that you can use to build a business case for 6Sigma and how much value your company will save by implementing it.
What does the Cost of Poor Quality Look Like?
ASQ COPQ Template
How does it work?
COPQ has four essential elements: internal costs, external costs, prevention costs and appraisal costs.
Internal costs-these are the costs that occur due to an error in your organization’s processes.
External costs- these are costs that are associated with internal and external customer dissatisfaction.
The other two elements are self-explanatory but one could argue that they are significantly more important. If you can’t appraise the process you can’t prevent waste.
What it doesn’t do
What is important to remember about COPQ is that it identifies the symptom of the defect, not the defect itself. With that in mind, COPQ will not provide a solution to your improvement challenge. The solution will come from your belt.
COPQ may seem like a no-brainer, but cost come in two forms: tangible and intangible. What your belt will do is illustrate what the intangible are and how they affect the business. The typical company spends at least 25% of their revenue on COPQ or waste, so what will you clean up today?
Six Sigma has gotten a sometimes well deserved rap for being overly-complicated, but this is a tool that is the antithesis of that reputation. It does involve metrics but the bulk of the focus is on strategic planning. Strategic planning means many things to organizations, but within the lens of a 6Sigma strategy it should mean a road map to the best version of your organization.
What is a Future State Vision?
A Future State Vision is basically what it says; it is a concrete plan for the most desired state of your business. Think of it as a more specific path to your company’s vision board. This is where you create the details that will get you to the goals on that vision board.
What does it look like?
How do you use it?
The tricky thing about a Future State strategy is that you have to come up with the end before you can address how you will get there. So to begin with you will actually start at the end and the how whole point of the strategy is to figure out the most practical (in terms of manpower, expense and resources) path to get there.
What does it do?
The Future Strategy does not provide you with a road map for your current problems. The metrics you use for this strategic should resemble your operational metrics, but they should not be exactly the same because your outcome for this strategy will be different. This is a big picture operational strategy so your metrics should be performing at a macro level when you turn your attention to this strategy. What it does do is help your staff to create meaningful big picture metrics, so low hanging fruit will not work here. This tool will be a great asset to upper level management responsible for creating organization wide strategy.
As with all my Six Sigma tools, this is just a template. Your specifics will lie in the knowledge your belt will bring in drafting this tool specifically for your organization at an executive level. So what are you waiting for? Start dreaming.
This blog post comes out of a recent conversation about Six Sigma specifics. I was discussing a Six Sigma engagement and the client asked to see specific experience in Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word for improvement, for Six Sigma purposes it means continuous improvement. To be categorized as a Six Sigma project, the project will inherently be improvement focused.
When looking for specialized service, the temptation is to use the acronyms and jargon is pretty normal, but beware sometimes using these terms only highlights your lack of knowledge to unscrupulous consultants. To shift the knowledge paradigm back to the customers here are a few basic 6Sigma terms and what they mean.
Six Sigma Belts
This refers to the level of the Six Sigma professional running your project. Yellow is the lowest level of expertise and Master Black Belt is the highest level of expertise. I break down each belt and the belt responsibilities in my blog post ‘What’s in a Belt”?
Continuous Improvement Methodology
Six Sigma is a management methodology and as you consult experts you will hear them talk about continuous improvement methodologies as they try to impress you with facts and figures. What you need to know is 6Sigma is one of many improvement methodologies. The key to improvement methodologies is to finding one that works well with the internal culture of your organization.
This simply refers to the lean projects your organization has attempted or completed. This phrase usually shows up when a consultant or an organization is analyzing the ROI in lean projects. When you hear or see this phrase, what you are looking for is a summary of the projects and their respective results.
These are lean projects tailored to produce immediate or near immediate results. Now from my prospective rapid and lean are mutually exclusive, but any tweak to a process can create improvements. Organizations should be aware that fast improvements typically are not sustainable improvements and rapid deployments need to have a near perfect implementation. If you are in the operations field you probably work on the basis of Murphy’s Law so you’ll have realistic expectations; for the other fields there is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are changes that can be made but a process is a very fragile thing and any change even the most subtle ones, can wreak havoc to an improvement project.
So these are the terms that you will probably hear thrown around regarding Six Sigma and as you delve deeper into the methodology you will hear more complicated terms. The key to Six Sigma is understanding that it isn’t this archaic, complicated methodology.
If you have a question about it, I have an answer.