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Topic Writing My First Problem Statement

Writing My First Problem Statement

Home Forums General Forums New to Lean Six Sigma Writing My First Problem Statement

This topic contains 22 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Chris Seider 3 days, 14 hours ago.

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)
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  • #494307 Reply

    Hi guys,

    I am new to LSS and I am trying to make a really good problem statement for a project I am working on. What do you think of this:

    “Appraisal cost and long Cycle Time at Needles Assembly Process are accounting for US$123,505/year resulting in low output and increased production cost in a 10.81%”

    Any help/suggestion will be appreciated

    Thanks,
    Rosalia

    #494311 Reply

    According to me, this problem statement would limit the scope of analysis as the cause of the problem is already mentioned.

    Mentioning below few points to be taken care while formulating any problem statement in a Six Sigma project:

    1. It must give the real pain area in terms of quantitative data.
    2. Three aspects must be present in the problem statements – What, When, How Much.
    3. Neither the problem statement should be two broad or generic nor should it be so specific as to limit the scope of analysis.
    4. The cause or solution should not be implied in the problem statement. If you already know the cause or solution, there is actually no need to do a Six Sigma project.

    Hope it helps!!!!!

    #494321 Reply

    Amit,

    Thanks for answering, but I actually got more confused. Here is an example of a “good” problem statement I saw somewhere on the web:

    Inventory levels at the West Metro inventory storage process in Scottsdale are consuming space, taking up asset management time, and creating cash flow issues. Inventory levels are averaging 31.2 days, with a high of 45 days. These levels have exceeded the target of 25 days 95 percent of the time since January 2012. $250,000 could be saved per year if inventories were at the targeted level.

    Help

    #494322 Reply

    Amit,

    Thanks for answering, but I actually got more confused. Here is an example of a “good” problem statement I saw somewhere on the web:

    Inventory levels at the West Metro inventory storage process in Scottsdale are consuming space, taking up asset management time, and creating cash flow issues. Inventory levels are averaging 31.2 days, with a high of 45 days. These levels have exceeded the target of 25 days 95 percent of the time since January 2012. $250,000 could be saved per year if inventories were at the targeted level.

    Help

    #494323 Reply

    @rosa014,

    I think your problem statement is a little confusing.

    “Appraisal cost and long Cycle Time at Needles Assembly Process are accounting for US$123,505/year resulting in low output and increased production cost in a 10.81%”

    What is the actual problem you are trying to solve? Is it;
    1) appraisal cost?
    2) cycle time?
    3) $ due to appraisal and cycle time costs?
    4) low output?
    5) % increased cost?

    You mention a lot of potential measures in the problem statement, which is confusing.

    The example statement you posted;

    “Inventory levels at the West Metro inventory storage process in Scottsdale are consuming space, taking up asset management time, and creating cash flow issues. Inventory levels are averaging 31.2 days, with a high of 45 days. These levels have exceeded the target of 25 days 95 percent of the time since January 2012. $250,000 could be saved per year if inventories were at the targeted level.”

    In this example, it’s clear the problem is “inventory levels”, measured by the “days of inventory”, and shows the dollar impact of the inventory. They do not go into explaining why the inventory days are long, or what the potential solutions could be. They mention “asset management time” and “cash flow issues” but it’s clear they are describing the impact of the problem, not describing causes or additional problems to be solved.

    I hope that helps. Just focus on describing 1 problem, with 1 measurement and your problem statement will be more clear.

    #494324 Reply

    Thank you for your reply . You are totally right. I am stuck with this. The problems in the process are long cycle time and too much rework and scrap. Help please

    #494325 Reply

    I would suggest you focus on the rework and scrap issue first. First do the right things, then do the right things more efficiently. Fixing the rework and scrap issue will have a positive impact by reducing cycle time as well because it will free capacity. Completion rate will go up, so lead time will go down. Google Little’s Law, and understand how it works. Do you have access to a LSS coach or mentor in your company to help you?

    #494326 Reply

    Nicolas Pereira

    Hi Rosalia,

    I don’t think you’re that far off, just concentrate on the metric that’s being missed right now:cycle times. Include how long CT is, what the CT target is, how long has this target been missed for, any other pain is causing such as customer dissatisfaction. In your measure phase you’ll collect more data, including scraps rate, to start getting a better picture of the cause. Just remember the purpose of the problem statement is to guide your team and keep them focused on the problem. You’ll do fine, nobody gets their first perfect, it’s a learning process. Good luck!

    #494335 Reply

    Don Strayer
    Reputation - 707
    Rank - Copper

    Rosalia, Amit’s 4th point is my main criticism of many problem statements that I read. If you’re stating, or implying, the cause and/or solution you’ve prejudiced the project from the start. DMAIC works as well as it does because we get objective data, find the root cause, and then find a solution. If we know the cause and have a solution we don’t need to do DMAIC. Of course we could be wrong. So do DMAIC anyway and avoid prejudices and assumptions in the problem statement. JB’s comments on the example problem statement you cited is to the point.

    I advise my clients to make the problem statement SPARC. It should be Specific – A single problem and not a generality. Proven – We have evidence that this is a real problem rather than an assumption. Assessed or Assessable – We might not have all the data at this point. The important thing is to be sure we can get them. Relevant – We must be careful not to work on problems that don’t matter all that much. Controllable – Doing something about the problem must be within our sphere of control. A problem statement that SPARC’s lights a fire. It inspires people to act.

    I can’t rewrite your problem statement for you since I know nothing about the situation beyond what you’ve said but I can offer some criticism. “Appraisal cost and long Cycle Time at Needles Assembly Process are accounting for US$123,505/year resulting in low output and increased production cost in a 10.81%”

    You begin by stating cause. And there are two stated causes so you aren’t being specific. If the problem is appraisal cost, focus your problem statement on that. If it’s long cycle time, stick with that. The US$ impact is assessed, and I assume proven, but the low output and increased production cost are not. They sound like assumptions. Are these impacts the problem? If so, your problem statement should focus on one of these impatcts. I can’t tell what “in a 10.81%” means. Maybe you left something out when you posted your question. In short, this problem statement doesn’t SPARC. It raises questions but it doesn’t light a fire.

    Putting on my manager’s hat I want to ask: What’s the appraisal cost and is this excessive? How do you define long cycle time? Where does the number US$123,505/year come from? How much of this is due to appraisal cost and how much to long cycle time? Is output really low? What is the increased production cost?

    A really good problem statement should not raise questions beyond what we’ll answer through DMAIC.

    #494336 Reply

    Don Strayer
    Reputation - 707
    Rank - Copper

    To clarify the last statement in my preceding post. A really good problem statement should not raise questions about the problem statement itself. It should be a simple statement of fact.

    #494374 Reply

    Rosalia,

    What does your mentor think? As a GB candidate, you should be able to share your question and this feedback with someone with direct knowledge of the project.

    It’s great to try to find guidance but never under estimate the power of a good mentor.

    #494380 Reply

    Bill Howell
    Reputation - 77
    Rank - Aluminum

    I recommend Problem Statements that are 1 sentence long, divided in 3 clauses. It should tell you what the problem is, where the problem is and the rate of the problem. The one written at the start of this thread is typical of someone new to writing problem statements. It contains far more than the problem statement. It includes financial impact and consequences of the overage. I would write something as “Needles Assembly Process, for the past XX months is 10.81% above target.” Anything past this is beyond the Problem Statement.

    #494381 Reply

    Bill Howell
    Reputation - 77
    Rank - Aluminum

    Allow me to continue on from my previous post.

    Much of what is contained in a typical problem statement belongs in a separate background statement. Let me illustrate with an example:

    For the past 6 months failure rates of our product have been at an elevated level. Production rates have been cut in half. All available technical resources have been assigned to address the problem as their highest priority. Customer returns are at an all time high. The product has a 22% failure rate, which leads to customer
    dissatisfaction. This issue has cost the company $3.7 million dollars. It is believed that the cause of the problem is associated with a vendor change. A return to our former vendor is being investigated.

    The first three sentences are background to the issue. “The product has a 22% failure rate” is the problem to be addressed (in real life it would need to be more specific than just product). “Which leads to customer dissatisfaction” is the consequence of the problem, “$3.7 million” is the financial impact. It is believed that the cause of the problem…. attempts to get to root cause. A Return to our former vendor …. is a potential solution. Only the part reading “The product has a 22% failure rate” is the Problem to be addressed.

    Aligned with a Problem statement of 22% failure rate, there needs to be a Goal statement that reduces the problem by 50% or so. This would make a Goal Statement of Reducing the overrun or failure rate to 10% or less. The “less” is important, otherwise you are targeting 10%, when if 5% is achievable, it states you still want to be at 10%.

    The Financial Impact statement ($3.7 million) provided economic justification for the project.

    Expressing the problem in terms of a percent failure or DPM ties in nicely with a Six Sigma defect rate. Currently, we are at 220,000 per million, looking for 100,000 to be successful. Six Sigma takes the defect rate to 3.4 per million.

    Unless the Problem Statement is short, concise and specific, along with a clear goal statement, there is no way to know if success is achieved.

    I hope this helps>

    Bill

    #494534 Reply

    Hi,

    Try to allpy 5W2H in your problem statement!
    When was totally missing.

    What was the base of the result you tried to quantify?

    But it was a good trial.

    #503801 Reply

    sadia
    Participant
    Reputation - 28
    Rank - Aluminum

    I start my phd in Human Resource communication, as i m new in research field and I am trying to make a good problem statement for my thesis,I am working on. What do you think of this:

    The purpose of this study is to explore the internal communication, the role of senior management in facilitating effective communication and sustaining employee engagement.

    Effective communication as important tool has been neglected in many organizations. Evidence Persons in organization take place through effective communication and that knowledge, information, attitudes and judgment are shared (Bennet Roger 1998). Communication has been developed by introduction of communication network through technology systems. They reduce limitations of time and space, increasing efficiency of communication process in fast and accuracy
    In the organization handling the core communication process and managerial communication as a system observed the dissatisfaction factors, such a situation can lead to miscommunication on important workplace issues.
    An organization needs to examine whether this communication between management and employees are helping to bring a positive picture. An effective communication image leads to management support for confidence in its goals and objectives.
    Therefore this study aims at evaluating effective communication as a Human Resource Management tool in an organization.

    This study explored the role of senior management in terms of communication within the specific context of strategic position at organization. It also investigated senior management’ accepting the role they need to play to put up with effective internal communication and facilitate employee engagement.

    Any Help…

    Thanks

    #503818 Reply

    It’s not a good problem statement.

    Consider looking up SMART objectives to get an idea of how to define a goal and another statement to help define the problem with quantifiable metrics. Look up “Project Scope” on this site to give you more info.

    #503822 Reply

    sadia
    Participant
    Reputation - 28
    Rank - Aluminum

    Thanks for the suggestion, but how to develop quantifiable metrics?

    #503827 Reply

    Sadia,

    I like where Chris is guiding you. I will answer your question with a question. Why?

    “Why”: As you begin, why should a company communicate internally? The answer to this question may lead you to quantifiable metrics. As I read your original statement, I see clues at measurable.

    Good Luck

    #503828 Reply

    sadia
    Participant
    Reputation - 28
    Rank - Aluminum

    Thanks a lot, I try to improve it.

    #504006 Reply

    Hi Rosalia. As it is your first Problem Statement you can start simple and improving it as you get experienced.

    As you review this statement remember the following format of what needs to be in a Business Case: WHAT is wrong, WHERE and WHEN is it occurring, what is the BASELINE magnitude at which it is occurring and what is it COSTING me?

    You must take caution to avoid under-writing a Business Case. Your natural tendency is to write too simplistically because you are already familiar with the problem. You must remember that if you are to enlist support and resources to solve your problem, others will have to understand the context and the significance in order to support you.

    The Business Case cannot include any speculation about the cause of the problem or what actions will be taken to solve the problem. It’s important that you don’t attempt to solve the problem or bias the solution at this stage. The data and the Six Sigma methodology will find the true causes and solutions to the problem.

    EXAMPLE:

    During FY 2005, the First Time Call Resolution Efficiency for New Customer Hardware Setup was 89% .

    This represents a gap of 8% from the industry standard of 97% that amounts to a potential of $2,000,000US of annualized cost impact.

    Hugs!!!

    Everton de Paula

    #504073 Reply

    Write the Problem Statement in sentence format using the template <What><Where><When><How Much><How do you know>.

    #699186 Reply

    SEMATA PETER

    Hi, I am Peter a student Persuing a bachelor degree in industrial engineering. I am trying to generate a problem statement for my project.

    The objective is “defect reduction in plastic packaging industry”

    The problem statement is
    “Over the last three months at Luuka plastics Limited, the amount of defective products has increased 25% which has caused the company to lose UGX.30 million”

    Some help
    Thanks!!!

    #699241 Reply

    Consider a pareto and attack ONE defect

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