As my title would suggest, the concepts of business intelligence and Six Sigma seem to be revolve around each other according to most practioners, rather than intersect, like I believe. Gone are the days (or should be) where the applications and business processes are distinct, individual units operating outside the realm of process improvement projects. Wait, back up — If SOA, or Service Oriented Architecture, is by textbook defined as the ’archtectural retooling of software that allows for the exploitation of open standards that have been adopted by software companies (page 6, ICMI Call Center Magazine, June 2007).’ Woah – What?
In other words, SOA allows various silo’ed business processes to work together through the use of the middleware concept that presents the end-user with a standard user interface, but allows the same end user the power to custom-configure these applications based on their own unique needs. Think of a Chinese restaurant menu’s family dinner, where you can mix and match from a variety of delicacies in order to create the most perfect family meal for you and your party. Likewise, Service Oriented Architecture does the same, except you are creating your most perfect picture of your business through the use of intelligence, reporting, scorecarding / dashboarding (also known as Enterprise Performance Management).
What is the key though to the intersection and why am I writing about this in a six sigma online community forum? Think of all of the disparate business processes that we work on everyday, and think of all of the projects you have worked on in which you a) had to fight to prove your benefits saved with finance (especially if your company allows soft benefits), b) needing to produce reports as a means of delivering numbers to the process owner and champion on the success of your outputs as defined by your control plan over time, c)needed to validate whether your project even warranted a black or green belts time by leveraging business repots to do so or d) like myself, just have a keen love for the colors or red, yellow and green when used to measure the health of the business.
Ok, I suspect there are fewer of us in the D category, but I may be wrong – My hypothesis is that most of you out there fall into a, b or c or a combination of such characters depending on your business. I am also assuming that you have some type of underlying database structures before you launch six sigma in general, otherwise, I might pull my project in lieu of working on setting up an enterprise data warehouse, but that is a whole other can of worms for another blog, for another day. I diverge…And now we are back…
If any of the options above describe you, then you are in need or wanting business intelligence. And, since my example was scoped to helping you establish your project or report on the success of a project, I suspect you see the analogy I am trying to make when I say there is an intersection between business intelligence and six sigma. In any effort to create consistency or less variation, which is a tenant of the DMAIC methodology, one should gravitate towards the learnings of SOA for BI — either as a poke yoke or SPC/SPM vehicle, a savings validation or a time / project management tracker; subject matter doesn’t matter – what does is an implicit understanding in the principles at large. It is no longer limited to just IT; it is all of our responsibility.