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.
Continuing on my mission to make Six Sigma something that anyone can understand, today I want to keep the statistics conversation going with the scaled data, scales of measurement and what they mean to your company. There are four scales of measurement in Six Sigma to consider: Nominal, Ordinal, Interval and Ratio.
Nominally Scaled Data
This is the most basic scale and basically tells you whether the information is different or not. This applies to your business in the sense that it tells you the baseline in a yes or no format. Think along the lines of ‘does your customer buy product x’? The answer can only be yes or no.
Ordinal Scaled Data
This data applies to data that can be arranged in a specific order but you cannot distinguish what makes the data different. If you are looking for an answer to why a defect is happening, ordinal data is not going to answer that question.
Interval Scaled Data
This is the sweet spot in terms of data analysis, in this scale the data is able to be arranged in a way that tells you why the defect is happening in specific scenarios. Think along the lines of you need to know why you make more sales on Saturdays. You can measure the sales on Saturdays, the specials you offered on Saturday and how many sales corresponded to the specials offered on Saturday.
Ratio Scale Data
This scale is the most advanced analytic method. When you use this method you have data that has an absolute value and when you get a value of 0 is shows that there is no correlation between the variable and the measurement. For example, you have 10 programmers and programmer A completes 20 lines of code, programmer B completes 15 lines of code. If programmer C actually completes) lines of code, then you can say that no code was completed on that specific day.
Knowing how to analyze data is a big tool in your Six Sigma tool bag. Now this is not an exhaustive list, but when you sit down to meet with your belt now you know what you need to ask and what the belts information should be telling you. When you are ready to get started, let us know and we can help you.
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.
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.