iSixSigma

Metrics

Use Earned Value Management for Process Improvement

Whenever there is an issue in a process, attempts are made to identify the process step that is causing the problem, identify the root cause and come up with a corrective or preventive action. The time taken to identify the “right” process step is directly proportional to the number of process steps involved and it…

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Build a Visual Dashboard in 10 Steps

Three years into the Lean Six Sigma deployment at Ball Corporation (the company known for its glass canning jars), the process improvement team began a visual factory initiative. This initiative was intended to develop visual signs on plant floors that not only instruct employees about where to focus their energies, but also depict the health…

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Reap a Return on Investment

Return on investment (ROI) measures/evaluates an investment. It can be thought of in general terms as: (gain from investment) (cost of investment) / cost of investment The specifics of a calculation will vary depending upon the type of investment being assessed. The best ROI references on iSixSigma can be found at the following links: Ask…

The Importance of Implementing Effective Metrics

When a company promises and delivers on quality, there is a good chance that customer satisfaction and retention will be high. But paving the road to success depends on companies being well-informed about their own business. They achieve that knowledge by developing and utilizing effective metrics. Why Do We Need Metrics? Metrics are used to…

Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 3

Parts one and two of this series surveyed the work connected with several goals shared by software organizations and Six Sigma (Goals 1-3 in Table 1). We saw that reaching those goals involved establishing systems to identify defects, classify them according to type and point of origin, predict their occurrence, and assess actual defect find…

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Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 4

This article is the last of four parts. It presents a discussion of opportunities for defects (OFD), defects per million opportunities (DPMO) and Sigma levels. When comparing implementations across companies, using the common language of DPMO and Sigma levels will assist in understanding benchmarking data. Parts one, two and three followed a progression of goals…

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Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 2

Part 1 in this series on software defect metrics discussed Goals 1 and 2, which focused on identifying and removing defects in the development process as close to the point of occurrence as possible (Table 1). This installment looks at predicting defect insertion and removal dynamics early in a project and measuring predicted versus actual…

Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 1

Six Sigma brings sharp focus to customer and business requirements and the defects connected with the failure to satisfy them. While the relevance of that view is clear enough to software professionals, their introduction to Six Sigma is often gets stopped short in questions about how the notions of yield, sigma level, or defects per…

Selecting Appropriate Metrics

A frequently asked question by Six Sigma practitioners is how to select appropriate metrics for a particular organization or process. Considerable material has been written on this subject. This paper focuses on three aspects that should be of interest to Six Sigma practitioners: Why are metrics – and more importantly appropriate metrics – needed? A five-step procedure…

Implementing a Customer Satisfaction Metric

Organizations evaluate themselves by measuring customer satisfaction with their products or services. As organizations evolve, the measurement of customer satisfaction across the entire organization becomes imperative. The first step is for an organization to implement a metric for tracking customer satisfaction. To develop a metric, an organization should explore these questions: Who are its customers?…

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Six Sigma Opportunity Counting

Imagine the scenario. Herman and Gary both manage processes for your company. Herman’s process involves a simple matching of supplier invoices to purchase orders. Gary’s process is much more complex. This process involves compliance to government regulations and requires massive amounts of data to be taken, accurately summarized and reported in several different formats to…

Time-based Metrics: Accounting for the Differences

Green Belts and Black Belts produce time series plots of the primary Y metric during the measure phase of projects. The time dimension used to plot the data takes one of two forms, start-based or end-based, and the difference between the two can be substantial. Quality professionals risk incorrect conclusions by not understanding and accounting…

Exploring Defect Containment Metrics in Agile

While Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Agile software development seem to have different orientations, there is more linkage than meets the eye. On one hand, DFSS and Agile appear to be at odds: DFSS talks about “stages” and tollgates, which Agile eschews in favor of Lean “single piece” or small batch flow. DFSS talks…

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Using Effective Metrics to Measure Production Test Flow

To characterize the effectiveness of productions tests, practitioners often use several types of metrics. Some measure the efficiency of the manufacturing process, while others measure the productivity. While these metrics are useful in many situations, they also come with drawbacks and limitations. One process can be efficient but not productive, while another may have high…

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Be Consistent in Metric Selection for Six Sigma Projects

Six Sigma project metrics are typically taught in detail during Black Belt and Green Belt training classes. But the inconsistent use of these metrics after training can lead to lost opportunities and rework after a project ends. Using project metrics consistently brings enormous clarity to the impact and benefit of a Six Sigma project and…

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Tips for Avoiding Common Metrics Challenges

Many organizations spend a lot of resources to collect and report a number of metrics without focusing on the proper utilization of them or tracking the return on investment in the effort. In some cases it may be difficult even to find meaningful metrics. Missing the right metrics poses a great risk to business decision-making…

Tips for Defining and Collecting IT Process Metrics

Several information technology (IT) metrics can be developed on the basis of best practice frameworks such as capability maturity model integration (CMMI) and information technology infrastructure library (ITIL). Measuring and collecting such data, which is often part of process improvement initiatives, brings to light what is happening in IT processes. Following are a few tips…

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Three Steps for Aligning Projects to Business Priorities

A company with a Six Sigma deployment identifies a process improvement area within the business. It is easy to figure out what comes next – just define the problem, set the goal, select the project team, pick the team leader and get out of the way. Right? Well, sort of…but before deployment leaders get the project…

Business Improvement Strategy, Masteries and Metrics

Many organizations that deploy Lean and Six Sigma eventually hit what is referred to as the “performance measurement wall.” These organizations begin with the right intentions, however, the bottom-line results from their Lean and Six Sigma initiatives are often illusionary because they are focused on the wrong targets. One of the major reasons for this…

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Using Core Effectiveness Metrics to Drive Improvement

A case can be made for using cost-of-quality metrics, combined with defect data, as overall measures of software and IT organizational effectiveness (Figure 1). The next logical step is to illustrate how these metrics might be used to drive improvement. The illustration can best be made with a “case study” of the famous-but-mythical software and…

Deploying a Measurement System: What Does It Take?

Management concepts such as the balanced scorecard, process management, key performance indicators and strategy deployment have prompted many executives to revisit their measurement systems. As more and more companies have initiated Six Sigma during the last two decades, the use of dashboards to measure process and business performance has become increasingly popular. As a result,…

Defining Primary Metric: Starting Off on the Right Path

As a Black Belt in training and working on my first project, I was overwhelmed with project information, data, statistics, tools and direction from my Champion. Quite frankly, there were times in the beginning I wondered what I had gotten myself into. At the first meeting with my Champion I was given a project metric…

Calculating Sigma Level for Project Planning Process Area

Following the implementation of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) at Level 5 in an organization, the normal practice is to measure the metrics for each process area and report it to top management. The overall performance of the organization in terms of a specific process area is not measured in most cases. A single performance…

Core Set of Effectiveness Metrics for Software and IT

Most software and IT organizations have great difficulty measuring organizational efficiency and effectiveness, despite a bewildering array of metrics that have been proposed and occasionally used. However, a basic-yet-powerful set of metrics that gets to the heart of these issues does exist, and at the same time facilitates the application of Six Sigma. It is…

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Value Matters as a Key Metric for Six Sigma Initiatives

A key measurement of Six Sigma effectiveness is the application of appropriate metrics. Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder, two pioneers of Six Sigma, state in their book Six Sigma that, “An organization’s profitability is determined by what it chooses to measure and how it measures it.” They point out that most companies need to change…

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A Leadership Roadmap for Managing with Metrics

Nine practical steps that focus on facts and data can provide a roadmap for business leaders at all levels on how to use the Six Sigma method to drive strategy implementation. 1. Start at the Finish Line: Define Strategic Objectives By far the worst use of Six Sigma is on non-strategic issues. Chartering projects with…

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What Is the Logic Behind a One Tail Defect, Or Is it That This Difference Is Negligible Beyond 3.5 Sigma?

Of considerable interest, this concept often mystifies newcomers to field of Six Sigma. As you already surmised, the referenced charts rely upon the assumption of a unilateral specification (single-sided performance requirement). From a defect accounting point-of-view, it should be fairly obvious that a unilateral (one-sided) specification must be treated as a single defect category. However, a bilateral (two-sided)…

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If a Project Doesn’t Meet the Six Sigma Level (as Calculated on the Sigma Calculator on This Site), Is it a Six Sigma Project?

Seems to me that you have described a traditional quality improvement project. Based on the elements of your question, it is my understanding that: 1) Each “drawing feature” constitutes a “defect opportunity.” 2) The customer’s minimum expectation was a quality level of .99, per feature. 3) The pre-project quality was found to .995, per feature…

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How Are Defects and Opportunities Determined for CTQs?

To begin, recall that a critical-to-quality characteristic (CTQ) is a vital product design feature (e.g., the strength of a material).  Naturally, we recognize that the product (per se) does not necessarily have to be a piece of hardware – it can be anything (e.g., a software program, a delivered service, a financial transaction, a social…

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Why Is a Process Shift of 1.5 Sigma Taken as a Standard for Calculations?

Right up front in our discussion, let us recognize that the 1.5 sigma shift can be attributable solely to the influence of random error. In this context, the 1.5 sigma shift is a statistically based correction for scientifically compensating or otherwise adjusting a postulated model of instantaneous reproducibility (short-term capability) for the inevitable consequences associated…

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The Sigma Conversion Table Displays Yields That Don’t Match My Understanding of USL/LSL for the Process. Could You Please Explain Why There Is a Discrepancy?

To facilitate an answer to your question, consider the following table. The first column is the given measure of process capability (provided in the form of Z).  The second column is the corresponding short-term yield of the first column (based on a one-sided specification). Of course, the third column is the associated long-term yield, also predicated on…

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Why Is 1.5 Subtracted From the Short-term Estimate of Capability (Z.st) to Get the Long-term Estimate of Capability (Z.lt)?

The capability of a process has two distinct but interrelated dimensions. First, there is short-term capability, or simply Z.st. Second, we have the dimension long-term capability, or just Z.lt. Finally, we note the contrast Z.shift = Z.st – Z.lt. By rearrangement, we assuredly recognize that Z.st = Z.lt + Z.shift and Z.lt = Z.st – Z.shift. So as to better…

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Is 7 Sigma Possible?

Don’t know, never been there – I’m still striving for 5-sigma (at least on a personal level). Given where the world is right now, many followers of Six Sigma (including myself) would say that a capability of 7-sigma is pessimistically possible, but not pragmatically probable. Maybe when I hit a 5-sigma level of capability, I can…

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I Am Developing a Scorecard for a Project Level Sigma Score. How Do You Suggest a Scorecard Be Developed to Determine a Sigma Value for the Whole Project?

Creating a process scorecard is not an easy or straightforward task. It becomes even more difficult when the scorecard is comprised of continuous and discrete performance metrics, each having a unique level of complexity (defect opportunity space). Even more perplexing is when some of the baseline metrics are short-term in nature while others are inherently…

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