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.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time learning the ins and outs of MSA’s, so this week I want to focus on process capability and how to understand the information you receive.
What is Process Capability?
In a nutshell Process Capability is:
• What it takes for your process to meet your customers’ needs right out of the gate with no modifications. This means for lack of a better term, inherent perfection.
• The information that can be provided on centering, variation and inappropriate measurement limits.
• The baseline metric for improvement
When determining your process capability there are three types of capabilities that we analyze:
• Continuous Capability- If you process is capable and in control, ideally you should get your desired outcome. This analysis measures the life cycle of your process telling you if the process has continued to be capable and in control.
• Concept of Stability-The idea of stability is the ability to answer the question ‘will my process produce the same result at this step every time it is used?’ To be technical, stability measures the ability of your process to meet its requirements at a regular and specific interval.
• Attribute Capability-This analysis makes assumptions about your data and is always long term data.
This week we’ve just scratched the surface on Process Capability. Next week, we’ll start digging a little deeper and show some illustrations of what it looks like.
We’ve talked about accuracy, repeatability and reproducibility in your MSA’s but now we need to talk about data integrity.
Numbers shouldn’t lie, but when they do it is usually because somewhere along the line the integrity of the data didn’t hold up.
Before you begin your analysis there are two questions you should ask yourself:
- Does my data have known reference points?
- Does the data match control documents? If you’re looking at product returns, does the data match the information on your financial documents?
Accuracy and Precision
The next thing to think about is accuracy and precision. When you are evaluating the accuracy of your data, what you are looking for is how close the average is to the anticipated value. Your precision will tell you how much variation occurs in you data. Think about it in terms of playing pool. Your accuracy tells you how close you were to making the shot and your precision shows you how far apart the balls were from the pocket.
The third thing to look at is any bias your data might have. Formally the definition of bias is the deviation of what was measured from the actual value. What that means is how far off your measurement is from the actual number. The goal is to reduce bias as much as possible, I say reduce because you will never be able to eliminate it. You will need to decide what acceptable bias limits are. If you have a worker who is consistently late and you’re measuring organizational tardiness, you know your bias is going be about 10 minutes.
Next you can move on to stability. Stability is defined as your error rate. The less errors, the more stable the process. All stability does is tell you when accuracy or bias changes in your process. What you should be looking for it to do is serve as an alarm, letting you know that something has changed. This alerts you to areas in your process that are no longer stable.
Last but not least, you have linearity. What this tells you is if your bias is consistent. If something happens once, it’s an outlier. It’s not consistent which means you don’t want to hinge a change or a new process on something that may or may not happen again.
MSA is a big subject and we are far from done with it. Next week we will continue to talk about MSA Windows in Minitab and how to interpret them. In the meantime if you have any questions give us a call and let us help!
We all know my affinity for MSA but it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t talk about the measurements for a bit. Six Sigma is built on measurements and the corner stone of effectiveness is to have measurements that are appropriate. So let’s dig in and figure out what defines appropriate measures.
What makes it appropriate?
There are four key areas to consider when you are trying to determine if your metrics are appropriate:
- Is it sufficient?-When you consider this you will need to look at how available the metric is. Ask yourself if you can readily gather the data. If you have to collect it and the collection times require more energy and resources than you can give, it may be time to rethink this metric.
- Is it relevant?-What will this metric tell you? Does it help you understand or identify your problems? If it doesn’t then maybe you need to take a step back and figure out what you need your metric tell you.
- Is it representative?-When you are looking at this metric, you should see a balanced representation of the people and the steps involved in your process. If you can’t see these things, take another look at your goals. Are you measuring the right things?
- Is it contextual?-When this information is put together with all of the other information you collect, do you see the big picture? In other words is the data painting a picture that makes sense to your and the people involved?
So MSA like everything else in Six Sigma is a tool and the thing that we need to remember is that for it to be effective, we have to make sure we are using it appropriately. Check your systems and let me know how they are working. If they aren’t working, give us a call.
Okay for the last two weeks, I’ve been talking about Measurement System Analysis and before I move on to a new topic I have one final post on why you should be thinking about MSA. Here it goes…
Why you use it
- You use MSA to compare you customer’s expectations to your inspection standards. This is a very quick illustration of a value stream map and a good way to ensure that you are providing the best service for your customer.
- It gives you a snapshot of where the training in your organization should be.
- It gives you the opportunity to evaluate your trainers in a truly neutral fashion. The data doesn’t lie and you can assess the training in your organization from a truly objective perspective.
- Creates an opportunity to analyze your existing systems and evaluate new systems.
Why is it important?
- Allows you to measure the amount of variation in your measurement systems.
- Allows you to compare user variation.
- Allows you to compare two or more measurement systems.
- Helps you develop a baseline for measurement systems.
- Helps you develop a system to evaluate the moving pieces in your organization.
- Gives you a true before and after picture.
- Gives you a true measurement of variation and the causes of it.
- Evaluates your training programs.
So I am a big fan of MSA as you can tell, but the bottom line is that it can really affect your organization in the best way. It forces you to be accountable and it forces you to pay attention to the changes. Give it shot and if we can help, let us know.