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Help with RMA Process Improvement’s Lack of Data

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Rhb 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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  • #237600

    Mjcol1388
    Participant

    Hello community members. I am new to Lean Six Sigma and have undertaken a new ‘Green Belt’ project recently. I have spent a few months in this forum reading case studies and questions throughout the community and figured I will tap into the pool of knowledge as well.
    Currently, my project is to reduce turnaround time of RMAs within our manufacturing facility. I was able to develop a high level flow stream map of our current process to get us started. I noticed very quickly that the initial issue I am running into is the lack of historical data. Unfortunately, I do not have tangible data to compare or analyze to improve our current RMA process. In a perfect world, I would be able to analyze how long each RMA takes to go through a specific department or phase to ultimately determine our biggest factors in delays (ie. parts, funding, manpower, losing items etc.). Does anybody have any suggestions on how to proceed without abandoning the scope of my project? Do I start in building a comprehensive RMA system so I am not working with mostly hypotheticals? I am already confound at the fact we are using excel spreadsheets as our tracking system and not a more robust automated RMA system. Any advice is welcomed. Thank you.

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    #237609

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @mjcol1388 What is the problem with Excel spreadsheets?

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    #237611

    Mjcol1388
    Participant

    @mike-carnell I do not have anything against Excel spreadsheets.I just find Excel a little archaic for tracking purposes compared to the technologically advanced software and programs available today.

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    #237628

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @mjcol1388 When you analyze data the analysis doesn’t care where it came from. Accurate and precise data from someone with a pencil and paper is better than inaccurate or imprecise data from a ” technologically advanced software and programs available today.” This isn’t about the technology. If you have data in Excel spreadsheets then you have data. Even if it is poor data you can improve it while you work on the problem.

    I will probably get blasted again but if you were working for me and you delayed a project to build “a comprehensive RMA system” I would fire you. If there is a problem big enough to be a project then it should have at least a daily cost associated with it and you want to allow the company to incur that cost while you play with a data collection system. You have the wrong priorities to be in Operational Excellence.

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    #237645

    Mjcol1388
    Participant

    @mike-carnell, I appreciate your feedback and resolve regarding the subject, but I believe you misunderstood my original post or became hung up on the last sentence. This is not about an Excel spreadsheet. I personally use Excel everyday because of its great capabilities and multi-functional use. I was simply mentioning that for a billion dollar company, one would think that there would be a scanner system in place with certain automated capabilities, which would time stamp and flag the appropriate department as RMAs came through the door as well as gather the information in a centralized location. Currently a user manually enters the generated RMA number into Excel, and has to manually enter all data (which leaves room for human error) and hope that other departments communicate the status of the RMA.

    Now as I revert back to my original post, Excel was NOT the intended focus of my problem. After defining what our CTQ is, I am currently trying to measure and analyze the bottleneck of our process. The problem I am running into is the lack of data to analyze. I was able to get a ‘rough’ cycle time estimate of the entire process, but there is no data that supports each stage of that particular RMA as it moves through our facility to do a true capability analysis.

    Another note. I am not in Operational Excellence. You guys are the true experts which is why I wanted to bounce ideas in terms of methodologies and tools.

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    #237656

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @mjcol1388 The only thing you will get from having expectations is disappointment. You just deal with whatever is there.

    So the issue is a lack of data by process step. My first step would be to get all the managers in one room and ask them why they don’t send you data. Not a confrontation but people do or do not do things usually for a reason. If nobody is doing it you can be pretty sure there is a reason.

    Just as an FYI a good automated system begins with a good manual system.

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    #237658

    Mjcol1388
    Participant

    @mike-carnellll, thank you for the advice.

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    #238004

    99Snowy
    Participant

    You will need to establish a baseline metric to help with analysis and to know where your are starting from with your challenge. Often historical data is not available. So you will need to build a measurement system and verify it is accurate. Take note of the type of data you are gathering and therefore the amount of data that will be needed to be statistically significant, before you can start analysis. The advantage with this is that you will be able to build a system which caters to your project needs, rather than making do with data that may not have enough precision or detail for the various stages in manufacturing that you will be looking into. This is a key phase and deploying the measurement system will make you very familiar with details in the process that not even the process mapping will have picked up. You will need everyone to buy-in, which may be a challenge in itself, and you will need to continually verify the accuracy of the data, but this will be the foundation to your success in this.

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    #238006

    Rhb
    Participant

    Listen to Mr. 99Snowy above! He knows of what he speaks. Very similar to how I was about to respond…:)

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