Metrics are an essential part of any Lean Six Sigma implementation. Metrics allow you to measure progress, identify problem areas, and ultimately forecast future outcomes. While metrics mean different things in different industries, they all share the goal of helping you understand where improvement is needed within your organization or department.
Overview: What are Metrics?
Metrics are a vital part of Lean Six Sigma. They help you track progress, identify problems and opportunities for improvement, and determine areas of improvement in your processes.
In Lean Six Sigma, there are four main types of metrics:
1. Financial metrics
The easiest to understand, because they focus on numbers that can be easily measured and calculated—specifically, the ones that represent money earned or lost by a company in terms of revenue or expenses. These metrics are important because they help you see how well your business is doing financially. They also allow you to compare yourself against competitors who might be using similar products or services as yours but charging less money for them.
2. Process-based metrics
Focus on measuring specific aspects of how processes are done within an organization’s walls—for example, how many times something happens per day or week (or month). These kinds of measures help organizations figure out where their strengths lie so that they can continue improving on those parts of their processes while also improving upon weaknesses or areas where things aren’t operating smoothly.
3. Customer-based metrics
These measure customer satisfaction or performance against customer expectations. These metrics can be qualitative or quantitative in nature.
4. Internal/employee-based metrics:
Used to measure employee engagement and productivity, as well as other factors that affect business operations from the inside out.
3 Drawbacks to Using Metrics
There are many benefits to using metrics in Lean Six Sigma; in fact, the methodology relies on your successful interpretation of and action in response to them. But there are drawbacks, and being aware of these can help you avoid them so that the benefits can be fully realized.
1. The metric is often not specific enough to be useful.
For example, if you use “cycle time,” it could mean anything from the time it takes for a customer to enter the store and check out, or it could be something as complicated as the time it takes for someone to get an MRI at a hospital. In this case, “cycle time” doesn’t really tell you much about how long something takes—it just tells you that something took some amount of time.
2. Metrics can be misused by people who want to make themselves look good without actually improving anything.
For example, if someone wants their department’s numbers to look good on their resume so they can move up in the company, they might say that they’re doing things better than they really are by changing their measurements or making up some new ones altogether.
3. Metrics can cause employees to lose sight of what’s important in favor of chasing after numbers.
For example, let’s say that a company is trying to reduce the number of defects in their products. So they set up a system where they measure how many defects were created by each employee every month.
This might sound like a good idea at first, but what happens if you have an employee who has been working for years on perfecting a particular process? If that employee starts getting docked because of the number of defects he creates, he might start focusing too much on cutting corners and getting things done faster at the expense of quality. This would be a bad thing for him, for his team members, and for the company as a whole.
Why are Metrics Important to Understand?
Metrics are important because they show progress, improvement, and stability.
They provide a baseline for how well a process is performing. If the metric starts improving, it shows that there is some action taking place within the process to improve productivity or reduce waste. If a metric goes down over time, it may indicate that something in the process needs to be changed or improved upon.
An Industry Example of Metrics
If you work in the finance industry, for example, and are responsible for maintaining financial data, metrics can help you understand how well your department is performing. You could use metrics to measure how often employees have to request a piece of information from another team (such as accountants or HR). If this number is high, then it’s likely that you’re missing something in your workflow. To determine what might be lacking in the system and how to fix it, first look at which processes are causing the most issues with requests. Finally, once you’ve identified those processes and figured out why they’re not working efficiently enough—whether it’s because there aren’t enough people on staff or because information doesn’t flow smoothly—you can make improvements by hiring more employees or instituting better organizational practices.
In addition to using metrics to gauge how well an organization functions overall, they’re also useful when examining individual departments within a company—or even teams within departments.
3 Best Practices When Thinking About Metrics
There are a number of best practices when thinking about Lean Six Sigma metrics.
1. It’s important to remember that the best metrics are not just something that you can throw together.
They have to be carefully thought through and designed according to specific criteria.
2. You should make sure that your metrics measure what they’re supposed to measure.
This will help you avoid measurement errors and ensure that you get accurate data from your experiments or projects.
3. It’s important to use the right kind of measurements for the project in question.
For example, if you want to figure out how long something takes, it might not be appropriate to use a survey method like asking people how long they think it took them last time they did something similar.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Metrics
What is a metric?
A metric is a quantifiable measure of an aspect of the system being studied. Metrics are used to understand, predict, and improve outcomes.
How is Lean Six Sigma metric performance measured?
Lean Six Sigma uses metrics to measure performance at every level of the organization. The metrics are based on three pillars: customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and employee engagement.
Lean Six Sigma measures these pillars by using a tool called the DMAIC model. The letters in this acronym stand for “define,” “measure,” “analyze,” “improve,” and “control.” This model helps companies identify areas where they can make improvements and then test those changes before implementing them.
What is the difference between metrics and statistics?
Metrics are used to monitor and measure improvement, while statistics are used to analyze data. If your question involves making an improvement, you need a metric. If your question involves analyzing the past, you need a statistic.
The Importance of Measurable Goals
As a business, you must maintain standards and have metrics that can be used as a measurement. A measurable goal is what you should strive for. When implementing LSS and even when working with those outside the lean culture, metrics provide that common frame of reference. Metrics provide a way to compare and contrast different ideas, improvements, and projects. Used effectively, metrics can provide critical insights into your work producing valuable outputs and can help inform business decisions that have a positive impact on your customers, suppliers, and your bottom line.