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Measurement System Redesign and Innovative Data Management

A multinational paper company wanted to reduce its cost of poor quality. The company recognized an opportunity to use Six Sigma concepts to minimize variability in its processes. Senior management was excited about the idea of applying design of experiments (DOE) to uncover the mathematical relationships among the input and output variables. For them, the…

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What Gets Measured Gets Done

Ever heard the phrase “What gets measured gets done?” It gets tossed around when someone is trying to convince you of adding a metric to your project or scorecard. It sounds good, doesn’t it? If we can measure X, then we will achieve the performance we want. It is not that easy. Simply measuring something…

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The Art of Measuring What Matters

“Ensure that every measure of performance is pertinent to the achievement of a goal or value of your organization. Otherwise, you risk misdirecting the organization.” –Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (Harper & Row, 1974) Even in well-managed, global companies, the failure to measure what matters can lead to unintended consequences. Consider the following real-world…

Five Ways to Measure Six Sigma Financial Benefits

By Jeffry J. Smith How can practitioners create a rigorous accounting method for measuring the financial benefits from their Six Sigma projects? The key here is being able to translate measured operational benefits into dollars, either in the form of cost reduction, inventory reduction or a revenue increase. The following five areas should be measured…

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…

Six Sigma Critical Success Factors

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This axiom, while intuitive for most managers and business professionals, is often not applied to the Six Sigma management process itself. For Six Sigma or any other management initiative to yield the advertised results, many factors must be considered, aligned, measured and acted upon. Having been involved with…

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Six Sigma Aids in IT Employee Resource Planning

Effective resource planning is an important part of any process improvement program. Formalizing processes and developing measurement systems helps to determine the value of internal projects from a human capital perspective. A measurement system for effective resource planning in implementing project goals may be particularly helpful for information technology (IT) divisions of companies. Developing a…

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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…

CMMI or Six Sigma: Does It Matter Which Comes First?

An organization is getting into process improvement. Should it look at the Software Engineering Institute’s capability maturity model integration (CMMI) first? Six Sigma first? Or both at the same time? This dilemma has confronted many organizations during the last several years. The situation reminds me of a session at a symposium in 1984 at which…

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…

Preparing to Measure Process Work with a Time Study

When first introduced in the 19th and early 20th centuries, time and motion studies established rules of motion that guaranteed optimal performance during a given time period and reduced the number of movements needed to get work accomplished. Over the years, time and motion studies have been done in many industries both to ascertain how…

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Data Management Plans Can Improve Collection/Validation

Companion Article This is one of two articles by David Wetzel that explore the value of developing a data management plan as the intial step in the Measure phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology. The other article is “Data Management Plans Can Reduce Project Cycle Time.” Understanding data and defining process paramaters (input) or…

Connecting Six Sigma to CMMI Measurement and Analysis

Measurement and analysis (MA) is a Level 2 support process area within the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) process. The purpose of MA is to provide management information necessary to implement monitoring and control of various required processes. Source: Ahern, Clouse and Turner, CMMI Distilled: A Practical Introduction to Integrated Process Improvement, second edition, Addison…

PR and Six Sigma: Beyond Time Sheets and Line Items

Six Sigma can be used in every business and every department within a company – even in places where many executives might not think it can apply, such as public relations. While PR professionals focus a good deal of time and effort measuring the results of public relations campaigns, they typically spend relatively little time…

Help for Project Leaders: ‘Advanced Data Door Worksheet’

Difficulties can arise in any phase of a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project, but one issue often shows up early in projects using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) model. When Black Belts or Green Belts charged with running an improvement project reach the Measure phase, they are confronted with the question: What…

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Measuring and Improving Service Processes with Six Sigma

Service processes play integral roles in almost every company – loan processing in the case of banks, mechanical services in an automobile dealership, recruitment or new employee orientation in a human resources department, accounts payable in an accounting department. Service processes can consume a large portion of a company’s operating margin. So it is not…