iSixSigma

DMAIC

How Do Organizations Sustain Improvements? Control!

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) can have a major positive impact on organizations that apply it; however, not every company has achieved the desired results. One of the reasons for that lack of success is the inability to sustain improvements yielded from LSS projects. Through LSS projects the aim is to make improvements to address a…

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DMAIC Case Study: Accuracy of System-generated Service Routes

A leading environmental services company provides collection, processing, recycling and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials for industrial and automotive customers. The company has branches all over the United States. The service representatives in these branches carry out services for geographically dispersed customers in their respective territories. This case study describes how DMAIC (Define, Measure,…

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DMAIC Case Study: Improving System Availability

A leading environmental services company applied the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology to improve the availability of an internal software system. The goal was to reduce system downtime (the time that the software application is not available for users) and reduce defect resolution time (the time it takes to fix a software defect…

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Improving the Productivity of a Service Team

The manufacturing and transactional worlds have long used productivity as a measure of efficiency. Traditionally, a productivity metric has been used for assessing return on investment on machinery to measure the contributions of team members. In the growing service economy where human resources are the biggest driver of costs in the organization, management teams want…

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Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 2 of 2

The following is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One follows the first two phases of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the project – the Analyze, Improve and Control phases. Analyze During the Analyze phase, the monitoring of the average amount of…

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Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 1 of 2

The following is Part One of a two-part article. Part One follows the first two phases of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the project – the Analyze, Improve and Control phases. Kahiki Foods, a family-run Asian foods manufacturer with about 200 employees in…

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Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 2 of 2

The following is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One follows the first three steps of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the DMAIC project – the Improve and Control steps. Improve The enhanced choke-point analysis completed in Analyze verified the chicken processing…

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Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 1 of 2

The following is Part One of a two-part article. Part One follows the first three steps of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the DMAIC project – the Improve and Control steps. Kahiki Foods is an expanding, family-run Asian foods manufacturer with about 200…

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Seeing Opportunity Through 3-DMAIC Glasses

Everything seems to be available in 3-D these days – movies, magazines and even television – so why not DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)? The idea may sound silly, but many opportunities go unnoticed because practitioners do not have the right tools in place to see them from different perspectives. The traditional DMAIC process…

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Controlling Change in IT Departments Using DMAIC

During a Six Sigma project at an information technology (IT) department, there are many good reasons why a process or a system needs to change. There also are a few bad reasons – bad, but unavoidable. It’s up to the practitioners to decide how to transform bad reasons into good ones, and how to prevent…

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Using the DMAIC Model to Achieve Buy-in

When project managers begin studying Lean Six Sigma, the first question asked is often, “How will I get buy-in?” Although the core concepts and methodologies may make sense to project managers, the question of buy-in sometimes overshadows this powerful methodology for process improvement. There are many root causes for why people are reluctant to lend…

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How to Become a Lean Six Sigma Organization

In a difficult economy, an increasing number of senior business leaders are seeking to boost the performance of their operations by adopting Lean Six Sigma. Before these organizations can begin to reap the benefits of continuous process improvement, they must first understand the fundamental elements of the process known as DMAIC (for Define, Measure, Analyze,…

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A Competitive Edge

Using Six Sigma has proven highly successful in addressing internal issues where the focus is on reducing production defects and costs. One way to take the methodology to the next level is to integrate it with the marketing function. Marketing offers a portal to an organization’s external environment – the competitive marketplace – where the…

Sustaining Change with the SUCCESS Model

Any change to a process is only successful in the long run if the stakeholders truly adopt and sustain the change. Process and technology improvements cannot be implemented without a change in the hearts, minds and behaviors of the people involved in the change. True adoption and sustainability requires thoughtful planning and focus, which should…

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Six Sigma DMAIC Quick Reference

The DMAIC methodology should be used when a product or process is in existence at your company but is not meeting customer specification or is not performing adequately. For DMAIC milestone reviews, there are certain deliverables, checkpoints, questions and concerns that the Black Belt and improvement team should be aware of prior to a tollgate/milestone…

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Six Sigma DMAIC Roadmap

The Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology can be thought of as a roadmap for problem solving and product/process improvement. Most companies begin implementing Six Sigma using the DMAIC methodology, and later add the DFSS (Design for Six Sigma, also known as DMADV or IDDOV) methodologies when the organizational culture and experience…

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Medical Transcription Six Sigma Case Study

Today’s industrial black belt typically trains for six months. Seventy-five percent of this training time is spent learning theory, and the balance is spent in practice. Often when the black belt returns to the real world to tackle inefficiencies, he finds that there are no takers for his logic and passion – his Six Sigma entreaties fall on…

Six Sigma and MIS: A New Partnership

As an outsider to the Six Sigma world, I am immediately astounded at how quickly Six Sigma can change the culture of a company. As a technology consultant, I assist with some Six Sigma projects at a Fortune 500 company. My involvement in Six Sigma projects evolved over time as the head of Six Sigma,…

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts: Six Sigma Breakthrough

Six Sigma, 6s, is nothing more, and nothing less, than the use of science to solve problems. Scientific evidence that a breakthrough medical solution is genuine is statistical evidence. Though altruism and evidence influence medical treatments, economic pressure drives improvement. Multi-million dollar savings created by “beating heart” or “off-pump” coronary artery bypass outcomes are a…

Software Vendor Partnership Cost Reduction with Six Sigma

Business Issue A multibillion-dollar software manufacturer needed to drive down the total $191 million annual cost of supplying its workers with continuously updated workstations. Both the software manufacturer and its primary vendor/supplier were in the midst of an aggressive cost cutting initiative that would lead to a new compensation model. The initial, first year targeted…

Using Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Quality and Outcomes

Appropriately implemented, Six Sigma clearly produces benefits in terms of better operational efficiency, cost effectiveness and higher process quality. Perhaps less obvious – and until recently less documented – is the impact it can make in clinical areas such as infection control and medication delivery. Clinicians are often receptive to Six Sigma given its familiar scientific and…

Read-Rite Low FPY Manufacturing Case Study

Read-Rite Philippines is the manufacturing site for the Tape Head Business Unit, and the core competency is assembly and test. Read-Rite Philippines manufactures magnetoresistive tape heads to the entry level through mid-range tape drive markets, with products such as Travan, DLT (Digital Linear Tape), SLR (Scalable Linear Recording) and SDLT (Super DLT). The Elite Sigma…

What To Do When The Low-Hanging Fruit Is Gone

This article provides an example of how an operational department (like a cardiac catheterization lab) can be transformed from a low sigma level to a higher sigma level, and what that would mean to the overall organization. Patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, reduced overtime, reduced patient wait times, increased revenues and an enhanced quality of life…

Six Sigma Software Development Case Study

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six…

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Six Sigma: PDCA on Steroids?

Whenever I attend a Six Sigma symposium or healthcare conference, the same question comes up: “What’s the difference between Six Sigma and what we’re already doing?” Of course my response is, “Tell me more about what you’re doing so I can better answer that question.” After fielding this question for over a year, I’ve come…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study – Part 2

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six Sigma program for software development,…

Leveraging Six Sigma to Improve Hospital Bed Availability

Located in Lafayette, Louisiana, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center recently began working with GE Medical Systems to implement Six Sigma as a method for achieving quality and process improvement. Since patient throughput and bed availability are among the organization’s top concerns, the team began by focusing on this issue. Following a process of…

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Surmounting Staff Scheduling at Valley Baptist Health System

Located in Harlingen, Texas, Valley Baptist Health System is a full-service, not-for-profit community health network ably serving the population of south Texas and beyond. The system is comprised of multiple organizations including Valley Baptist Medical Center, a 611-bed acute care hospital providing the number one rated orthopedics service in Texas, a state of the art…

Revamping Healthcare Using DMAIC And DFSS

Evidence pointing to the applicability of Six Sigma and related best practices within healthcare has been steadily mounting over the past few years. Primarily based on the implementation of the DMAIC process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), we’re seeing an ever-widening array of documented and publicized results… from improving turnaround time for patients to…

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To Save Cost, Set Product Warranties Based on Quality

Imagine you are the quality manager for a consumer electronics manufacturer. At the previous staff meeting, the CEO asked the management team for ideas that could help the company become more competitive and increase profits. It is now one month later. During the staff meeting, members of the marketing department present some research that shows…

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Design For Six Sigma (DFSS) Versus DMAIC

One of the most confusing issues associated with someone saying “I’m using Six Sigma” has to do with what methodology they are actually using. A majority of the time they are using the DMAIC methodology, because they have existing processes that are wasting resources (hence the big savings you’ve heard about at GE, Honeywell and…

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DMAIC Versus DMADV

We know that everything in business is a process, right? Sales people have a list of companies and contacts that they work in a certain fashion to produce a sale, production receives an order and schedules the manufacturing, the product is built, packaged, shipped and invoiced. When the packing department has a problem with their…

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1.5 Sigma Process Shift Explanation

iSixSigma released a process sigma calculator which allows the operator to input process opportunities and defects and easily calculate the process sigma to determine how close (or far) a process is from 6 sigma. One of the caveats written in fine print refers to the calculator using a default process shift of 1.5 sigma. From…

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Starting the First Surgical Case on Time to Cut Delays

In 2006, the board, administration and staff at Louisiana’s Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) decided their operating room (OR) suites represented an opportunity for improvement. Rising demand, costs and competition were all signals that the hospital would need to either invest in expansion or operational efficiency. Taking the less glamorous and more difficult path of…

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Using Six Sigma to Reduce Pressure Ulcers at a Hospital

Since 2001, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Louisiana has applied Six Sigma and change management methods to a range of clinical and operational issues. One project that clearly aligned with the hospital’s strategic plan was an initiative to reduce nosocomial or hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, because this is one of the key performance metrics indicating…

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DMAIC Phases Mesh with Project Risk Management

Effective risk management plays a major role in the final outcome of any business project in terms of its ability to meet cost and time objectives. There are limitations in the amount of risk management that can be done, however, which may make it difficult to reduce uncertainty and increase efficiency in projects. Six Sigma…

Minimize the Risk of the Unknown in Six Sigma Projects

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” That phrase has been taught in Black Belt training for many years, and it continues to be relevant today. When combined with a related phrase, “What you don’t know can hurt you,” these words illustrate a common challenge: Sometimes, the events that hurt us are unknown and unexpected….

Comparing and Contrasting IDEAL and DMAIC

Comparing and contrasting the way different disciplines and tools map to one another can help lead to a better understanding of each of the things being compared. This paper reviews a methodology called IDEALSM, which was developed and evolved by members of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), and compares it with the Six Sigma DMAIC…

Rush to Enact Solutions Sabotages a DMAIC Project

In 2004, a small and relatively young technology company (7,500 employees and an annual revenue of $2 billion) implemented the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, or what is usually referred to as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). In an effort to be fully compliant the company identified and initiated more than…

Six Sigma Trims Turnover Time for Orthopedic Surgeries

Orthopedic and neurological spine surgery represents a competitive and profitable business for many healthcare organizations. Expanding this particular service line and ensuring efficiency in the operating room (OR) are among the strategic initiatives at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., one of 16 hospitals in the Memorial Hermann system. Surgeons at the hospital…

Integrating Project Management into a Six Sigma System

Manufacturers and transactional firms share a drive to lower costs, reduce cycle time and offer a diverse product mix as they pursue higher profits and an increased market share in a growing global environment. Consumers (those paying for the end product) want products or services that are cheaper, readily available and of a quality that…

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Renew the Commitment to Data-Based Decision Making

A large corporation recently conducted a competition to identify the organization’s best Six Sigma projects of the previous year. Out of more than a hundred submissions, only one actually validated its improvements with a comparative experiment (z, t, Chi-sq, etc.). What did the rest do? The same thing they did before Six Sigma. The mean…

Sustaining Change Requires Focus on Stakeholders

A Six Sigma initiative – or any change process for that matter – is only successful in the long run if the stakeholders truly adopt and sustain the change. Process and technology change cannot be implemented without a change in the hearts, souls and behaviors of the people involved in or impacted by the change….

Lean and Creative Six Sigma to Solve Real-life Issues

A strong possibility exists that some organizations using Six Sigma are failing to cash in on the true potential of the methodology. This can happen when proper care is not taken to understand what needs to be integrated with the Six Sigma methodology to make it effective, comprehensive and a focused approach to solve real-life…

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Improving a Health System’s Cash Flow Management

The healthcare industry is going through mergers and acquisitions and facing new economic struggles. As hospitals realize the need to consolidate resources regionally, a big challenge takes shape: handling the information necessary to manage cash flow efficiently. Cash flow management is vital for hospital systems to sustain their daily operations. Our team used DMAIC to…

Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

In the 1990s, the teller counter was the primary customer-facing area in the financial service industry, and so improvement efforts were leveraged in this arena. With increased improvements in technology and online banking utilization, however, process improvement efforts have shifted to internal areas. Yet companies must realize that even though customers are becoming more self-reliant…

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