Teamwork: The Key to Successful Six Sigma Projects

Posted by: meikah | 31 January 2006 | 4:58 am

The wikipedia definition of the word teamwork is that it is the concept of people working together as a team. The concept has spread from the world of sports where it is well known and accepted, to business, so much so that it is in danger of being considered by some as an empty buzzword, or a form of corporate-speak. In the 21st century, as people are becoming more sophisticated and society is becoming more technically advanced, working as a team makes it easier to accomplish goals.

I’ve talked about Six Sigma project deployments but I think I never touched on teamwork, or that each Six Sigma project is being carried out in groups, in teams. Last Sunday was our Powerbooks Sunday with the kids again. After depositing them in the children’s section, I went on to check out management books. I came across the book by George Eckes, Six Sigma Team Dynamics: The Elusive Key to Project Success. Reading through it, I was struck by the question, “how teams work together to achieve Six Sigma improvement?”

Discussing this, the author identified 12 factors why teams fail to be effective.

*Failure to identify a leader.
*Failure to establish roles and responsibilities, and failure to discuss what each participant “brings to the party.”
*Failure to establish a set of goals/objectives.
*Failure to establish agendas.
*Failure to establish a method to determine how the team will make decisions.
*Failure to establish a set of ground rules for running the Six Sigma meetings.
*Failure to use quality tools.
*Allowing maladaptive behaviors to exist without consequences.
*Wasting time getting started.

Six Sigma teams cannot allow these failures. The book gives a deatiled guide on how teams should work. It starts with identifying the two project leaders: the strategic team leader known as the Project or Team Champion and the tactical team leader called either the Black Belt or the Green Belt. Chapter 2 of book discusses the various responsibilities of the Champion before the team starts its work, and how the Champion and Black Belt/Green Belt must work cohesively to achieve team success. In the same chapter, too, begins the identification and discussion of roles and responsibilities of each team member. This continues until the end of the book.

In Chapter 3, the concept of the “what” (the content) and “how” (the method) of Six Sigma project work is introduced. Alongside with this, the team establishes goals and objectives relevant to their work at hand. The same chapter also provides interesting insights on how to create vibrant, useful agendas that help teams to be both effective and efficient.

The succeeding chapters discuss maladaptive behaviors within the team and how to handle them, and feature a fictitious Six Sigma team working on a project using DMAIC. The remaining chapters focus on how to strengthen a team and make them work as a team. This is where you encounter terms such as team vision, team mission, and team dynamics.

Read an online excerpt here.

We often hear the saying, “two heads are better than one.” And I believe in that. Let’s face it, there are just tasks that we can achieve successfully if we work together rather than individually. I think a good visual for a team effort is the sport rowing.

Woodrow Kroll is correct when he says, “There’s a real beauty to the slender boats on the water, the perfect cadence of the athletes. It’s a sport that demands endurance and strength and the drive to keep going even when your body screams to stop. But what’s really fascinating is the teamwork. Rowing isn’t a great sport for athletes looking for MVP status. It is, however, teamwork’s best teacher. The crew made up of individuals willing to sacrifice their personal goals for the team will be on the medal stand together. Winning team mates successfully match their desire, talent and blade work with one another.”

Filed under: Team Dynamics

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Certifying Data Through Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 30 January 2006 | 3:20 am

If you notice, I’ve been running a series of related entries for more than a week now. One vein running through these entries is the concept of data—digitized date, managed data, used data. Today, I found a very interesting article about certified data.

The article titled, The Partnership of Six Sigma and Data Certification at isixsigma talks about how Six Sigma can be applied to data quality processes.

Let me start by defining the term certified data. It is “data that has been subjected to a structured quality process to ensure that it meets or exceeds the standards established by its intended consumers.” These standards are documented via service level agreements (SLAs) and administered by an organized data governance structure. In other words, data certification aims to reduce defects to achieve customer satisfaction. By virtue of that, it is therefore inevitable that Six Sigma be applied to such undertaking.

To start working, we go back to DMAIC and DMADV methodologies. The former provides incremental improvements to existing processes, while the latter develops new processes or make radical changes to existing processes. Both work toward continuous improvement using a feedback loop.

Now, let’s assume that you have the data. The next logical step is to determine data certification requirements. An important point here is that requirements for a particular data depend on the intended use for that data. Just to illustrate this point, take this situation: Steel used to manufacture aircraft bolts will have more stringent structural quality requirements than steel used to manufacture household appliances.

It is therefore important to examine your data. The following data characteristics can help you determine its use:

* Accuracy/Precision — Accuracy refers to how closely the data value agrees with the correct or “true” value. Precision is the ability of a measurement or analytical results to be consistently reproduced, or the number of significant digits to which a value has been measured or calculated.
* Completeness — Completeness measures the presence or absence of data.
* Reliability — Reliability is the relative measure of how much confidence one can place in the data values.
* Availability — Availability is the ratio of the amount of time data is available to the amount of time data is needed for access.
* Timeliness/Freshness — Data almost always has an associated “timing” or “freshness” attribute or component for it to be relevant.
* Consistency — Consistency is the common definition, understanding, interpretation and calculation of a data element.
* Uniqueness — Data must have a unique identity and definition to calculate the lifetime value of large customers.

The importance of Six Sigma methodology in data management certification are:

* You have a framework and methodology that you can apply to improve data quality.
* You have the Six Sigma tools and techniques as support.
* You can successfully improve manufacturing and other processes by achieving data quality objectives.

Read more

Undeniably, managing large amounts of data—from gathering, storing, and retrieving—is a daunting task. Many companies see this undertaking as untenable. So they try to skirt around it for a while, until they feel the bullwhip effect too late. A bullwhip effect is a result of an unmanaged supply chain. One of its causes that can be linked to unmanaged data is the amount of delay times during information retrieval and material flow.

Unmanaged data is also costly, especially in the IT structure. With a growing databank, your databases need to process more data, overloading database servers. As scheduling and managing data become more complex, you may miss project deadlines. As a result, the overall performance of your organization deteriorates. More information about application data management here.

Successful companies, however, have a different story to tell altogether. They know that managing data, especially large amounts of it, is something they need to do; otherwise their overall processes get drowned along with their unmanaged ever-increasing data. So they invest time and money to manage data every step of the way.

Filed under: Tools/Toolkits

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When Information Technology Adopts Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 27 January 2006 | 3:43 am

I’ve been talking about technology in my past several entries here. These entries show the value of technology and the significant contribution of Six Sigma to an organization. So I wonder what happens when information technology adopts Six Sigma.

Mercury, the global leader in business technology optimization (BTO) and one of the largest and fastest growing enterprise software companies in the world, provided me some answers.

In its interactive white paper, Mercury mentioned that information technology (IT) was quite late in using Six Sigma because IT itself lacks the system for its own processes. IT needs to adopt a transaction and decision support system that digitizes IT processes, while enabling DMAIC and DMADV improvement projects. For IT to be able to adopt Six Sigma successfully, Mercury recommends the following critical steps:

1. Develop Six Sigma skills — have a good theoretical foundation and a strong group of green and black belts.
2. Implement Mercury IT Governance Center to digitize IT processes — Mercury provides portfolio that support digitized key functions, such as IT portfolio management.
3. Leverage Mercury to accelerate future Six Sigma projects — Mercury Program Management and Program Management applications streamline the planning, tracking, and execution of project. In addition, there is the Mercury Demand Management (MDM) that acts on CTQ data measurements. After these measurements are reported to the defect repository, MDM digitizes the defect-resolution process. This process—from digitized process to defect measurement to analysis to improvement—accelerates Six Sigma benefits.

Read more about Mercury’s Six Sigma-Friendly Approach to IT Process Improvement here.

Having digitized data in a Six Sigma initiative is really advantageous to an organization. Storing, sorting, tracking, and retrieving of information is faster and more systematic. It’s really true that certain methodologies can only work with complementary technologies. I say that this is the right time for Six Sigma. As a data-driven initiative, it needs a sound technology, or even high technology, to be able to manage large amounts of data, discrete or otherwise. And with Six Sigma, technology can operate efficiently.

Filed under: Software/Technology

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Achieving a Paperless Organization Through Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 26 January 2006 | 4:47 am

Tell me. When you go to an office, what do you notice first? Well, what often catches my attention are lots of paper or documents stacked on almost everyone’s table. They may give the impression that the person owning the table has a lot of things to do, but it can also give out the signal that he has a lot of backlog work to catch up. In any case, a pile of paperwork on the table is not a pretty sight. Besides, paper is a fire hazard.

Well, what do you say? Six Sigma methodology can actually help you keep away those important documents. A case study at isixsigma showed how a large company based in the U.S. and India converted their paper documents into electronic data.

The project is a good example to organizations that handle large amounts of data – IT enabled services, banks, insurance companies, hospitals etc. – and computer based office processes. Here are the seven steps of the project.

  1. Selection Of The Problem
  2. Finding The Vital Few To Attack
  3. Idea Formulation For Countermeasures
  4. Idea Testing And Modification
  5. Implementation Of Countermeasures
  6. Confirming The Results
  7. Maintenance Of Improvement – Continuous Small Improvements

In a nutshell, the problem was about collecting and retrieving data.

Data (including errors) was collected for 30 days. During this exercise it was realized that different auditors were classifying the same error in two different ways, leading to measurement system discrepancies. This led to a reclassification of the errors, and training of the auditors.

From the data then collected and analyzed the problem was defined as follows:
Customer requirement: <50 ppm errors
Current process average errors: 510 ppm
Variability (sigma): 710 ppm
(Average + 3 sigma): 2640 ppm
Note: Errors were collected before rework to ensure that the root causes would be exposed.

Problem definition: Reduce error density to assure 3-sigma quality under 50 ppm from the current 2640 ppm (i.e. 98%).

Details here.

The results are a true quality story.


* Customer delight: Customer reported 100% quality in his sampling consistently over six months. He could not find errors at such a low density.
* Productivity and Cost: Inspection and rework reduced to almost zero. 99.7% first pass efficiency. Sampling sizes were reduced. These resulted in savings of US $ 50000 per annum at Indian wage levels (in US equivalent US $ 300,000 per annum).
* Volume Increase: Approximately 50% by the customer. The production went through without increased manpower.
* Turnaround of the documents was improved dramatically due to no rework and started meeting customer requirements.


* Senior management time saved
* Motivation of the operations personnel very high
* Team work between Operations, Instruction and tool development and QA personnel
* Mind-set Changes
* Producing quality saves money
* The importance of data and six sigma techniques.
* If you don’t improve, you deteriorate

The case study: Six Sigma Case Study: Converting Paper to Electronic Documents

We are again reading a good success story about Six Sigma. Looking at the things, both tangible and intagible, that are improved because of a Six Sigma makeover, I couldn’t help wondering why other companies have yet to discover its value.

I know there are downsides to project implementation. However, these can be overcome especially if top management, gives its full support to training and implementation. Unless of course, Six Sigma just doesn’t fit in an organization’s framework or isn’t aligned with company goals, then there’s no reason to implement it at all.

An example would probably be the article, titled “Lateral Growth, Strategic Planning Top Law Firm Management Tools.” Bain & Co.’s surveyed top 25 management techniques employed in law firms. Six Sigma ranked number 2 in both the Least Popular Major Law Firm Management Techniques and Least Effective Management Techniques (Frequency x Success) categories. The article concludes that law firms are greater users of strategic planning, benchmarking/best practices and core competencies than corporations. Corporations are most likely to use Business Process Engineering (BPR), TQM, and Six Sigma.

Read the rest of the survey results here.

Filed under: Six Sigma Organizations

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Microsoft for Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 25 January 2006 | 3:34 am

The need to put up a systematic, data-driven approach to improve operations comes in the face of increasing complexity and competition for the same, or similar, products in the market. Thus born the term quality management.

Middle of the 1980s saw the birth of many quality management strategies. Some even claim that all these strategies are all the same, save that they are renamed or packaged differently. This may be true but many will agree that the philosophy of quality management delivers tangible bene?ts to any process, such as greater cost-control, visibility, and alignment with strategic objectives. These promised benefits however do not happen as a direct consequence of implementing quality management. Testimonies of organizations that dipped their toes in the water claim that the road to improved processes is long and winding due to resistance to change, inadequate tools, and poor internal communication.

To address these inadequacies, the business world developed technologies that can help organizations plan, track, and manage projects according to the speci?c procedures set forth by their chosen methodology. Today, discrete project management tools are coalescing into integrated portfolios of solutions to address quality management at all points in the enterprise. Microsoft® is among those leading the way in this emerging market.

The company developed Microsoft’s Six Sigma® Solution to help organizations overcome barriers and help them achieve maximum bene?t from their quality management initiatives. Built on the Microsoft Of?ce Enterprise Project Management Solution platform, Microsoft’s Six Sigma Solution can help organizations achieve the following:

•Analyze project impact with powerful portfolio management and analysis tools.
•View the financial results of Six Sigma projects and their alignment with key business performance metrics.
•Optimize resource use by assigning projects based on practitioner skills, experience, and availability.
•Use simple, real-time status reports to monitor timelines, costs, resource requirements, and projects status.
•View projects collectively to make decisions regarding resource allocation, prioritization, and investment approvals.
•Standardize and streamline processes through all DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) phases.
•Use collaboration and process reporting tools to view, enter, update, and analyze project information, and to create Six Sigma reports more quickly.
•Make better decisions using data from automatically created reports and tracking tools

Then Microsoft developed the Microsoft Office Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma. Once deployed, the Microsoft Of?ce Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma helps relieve the complexities and expenses associated with Six Sigma rollouts by:

•Accurately re?ecting the ?nancial impact of projects
•Optimizing Six Sigma resources
•Integrating Microsoft Of?ce and other collaboration tools with Six Sigma methodologies
•Leveraging knowledge and data gathered across the enterprise

Read more about Microsoft’s Quality Management portfolio here.

The value of technology on any process improvement is obvious. Technology has advanced rapidly over the years and it seems like everything it touches turns to gold. Tasks are made faster and can be done simultaneously. People and organizations can now connect in a manner that is impossible to do before. It is no wonder, therefore, that the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies will be at the forefront of all these developments in quality management.

Not all companies however are ready to take on both Six Sigma and high technology. Six Sigma is ideal for companies that are heavily focused on customer service and satisfaction. Its framework is designed to improve both these outcomes and continuously sustain highly positive improvements. Achieving this within an IT environment can be extremely challenging.

As Gartner analyst Lars Mieritz says, “To achieve Six Sigma, you have to be able to precisely define the process, measure the process, analyze the effectiveness and then implement improvements. That requires a great deal of communication between the IT and business units, which can be difficult for some organizations if they are not used to that level of collaboration.”

On the other hand, I believe that if an organization is convinced that both Six Sigma and IT can give them the edge over the others, I don’t see why they cannot have both and make them work together for the good of the whole organization. In the long run, an improved system is all that matters.

Filed under: Software/Technology

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Using Six Sigma to Increase Your Value

Posted by: meikah | 24 January 2006 | 4:01 am

Six Sigma does it again!

Business executives have only one thing in mind and that is to increase the value of their organizations. If they are able to do that, then they are successful. In the leadership pyramid, increasing your organization’s value starts at determining a strategy toward this goal, then identifying a methodology, or infrastructure to best support the strategy, and ends at aligning the methodology or infrastructure with the organizational activities and resources by using the methodology to support the strategy.

Through the years, CEOs have tried every improvement strategies there are in the market, but none of them could address all the issues. I guess no strategy can ever will. Until Six Sigma came. Six Sigma Systems aptly puts it.

In the past ten years a fundamental methodology has emerged and rewarded business leaders with measurable results to the bottom line while simultaneously improving organizational culture. The methodology, Six Sigma, improves the processes that constitute the business engine … Six Sigma eliminates cost and increases value like few other process improvement methodologies have, in part because it forces quantitative measurements on the results of organizational activities. It has been utilized in manufacturing as well as in service and other non-manufacturing environments. It is successful because non-value added expenses often represent up to 50% of an organizations cost structure, thus providing savvy leadership a veritable goldmine of quantifiable opportunity.

Just what makes Six Sigma this effective?

According to the same article, Six Sigma’s merits do not lie merely on its use of statistics. Rather, it also lies on how the methodology acquires critical data and process it using the Six Sigma tools. Common examples of tools used are process mapping, thought process mapping (TPM), failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), Measurement System Evaluation (MSE), design of experiments (DOE), components of variation (COV), techniques for experimenting in noisy environments, and statistical process control (SPC) for process investigation.

Another value of Six Sigma is its organizational structure, which helps the entire organization, regardless of function, can use to identify and capture improvement opportunities. The structure consists of the following elements:

* Project Identification Process
* Leadership Training
* Practitioner Training
* Project Tracking and Support

Continue reading…

The article: Increasing Firm Value Using Six Sigma

The statistics and the tools, and the structure of Six Sigma make it easy to implement as a cornerstone to the business strategy. From the structure alone, it is easy to tell that the whole methodology requires the whole organization to be involved and even trained to do it. The focus is not on the process but on the people who will do or undergo the process as well. As a result, the methodology truly becomes a way of doing business for the organization.

Filed under: Six Sigma Organizations

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A Six-Sigma Tie-up With Your Customer

Posted by: meikah | 23 January 2006 | 4:07 am

I’m pretty sure that so far as B-to-B, especially a supplier-customer relationships go, it often is limited to nurturing the business relationship in terms of maintaining cycle time and quality of products. A relationship other than this kind will mean sharing trade secrets. I think businesses wouldn’t want to divulge their corporate secrets just yet.

However, a survey done by McKinsey & Co. in June 2005 finds out that leading B-to-B companies that conduct collaborative projects with supply chain partners and end customers increase their revenues and profits by more than 20 percent on average. What is more interesting is that one company’s knowledge of Six Sigma processes pushes it to establish a tie-up with its end-user.

SGL Carbon, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of products made of carbon, graphite, and composite materials for industrial and aerospace applications, launched a joint project with UK’s largest producer of electricity, British Energy.

Hans Bohnen, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and quality leader at SGL, spearheaded the project. Graphite is the tie that binds the two companies. British Energy produces nuclear electric energy for the world. SGL produces the graphite from which nuclear reactor sleeves are made. The procedure was that SGL would send the graphite from Germany to Westinghouse Springfield Fuels (WSF) in England to have the sleeves assembled for British Energy. This set-up proves costly. On the other hand, SGL wanted to keep the business relationship with both WSF and British Energy.

Six Sigma’s DMAIC tool, which was used a product development tool in this case, helped the three companies work out a plan that boosts the use of graphite in other applications, not just for generating nuclear sleeves. Using the Lean Six Sigma element, Value Stream Mapping, the three companies enjoyed the following:

  1. a stronger, more accurate sales forecasting for SGL
  2. leaner raw material production and fewer demands on the machining partner, WSF
  3. British Energy reduced the sales cycle time from 7 1/2 months to three months
  4. Each of the three companies reduced the inventory they had available: British Energy ordered fewer sleeves at a time but ordered them more frequently.

Full story here: Collaborative Six Sigma Project Benefits Three Companies

It is really amazing how a quality methodology, like Six Sigma, can not only improve internal processes but external relations as well. As companies launch Six Sigma initiatives, they discover other use for them. The DMAIC process is very powerful. You discover a lot of things about your organization, the structure, and even the bottlenecks in the system.

To me what SGL did—involve its customer with its Six Sigma processes—is a good thing. If you are an organization trying hard to improve your cash flow, increase revenues, establish a competitor-resistant customer relationships, and achieve greater marketing accountability, then you may want to try what SGL Carbon did.

Filed under: Six Sigma Organizations

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DFSS and Product Development

Posted by: meikah | 20 January 2006 | 3:31 am

Today, I will share with you another use of Six Sigma (DFSS, particulalry) to another initiative, which is product development. Thank you Eleine for this link. The article comes very handy these days as I am running a series on Six Sigma’s capability to be interwoven with other initiatives.

Vinny Sastri, founder of Winovia LLC, a consultancy providing innovative, customized solutions in product development, process improvement and issue resolution, said in his article, “Integrating Product Development Part II: DFSS and the Quality System Regulation,” that Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is both a business management tool and a product development process.

And here is how.

DFSS uses metrics, data and statistics, team dynamics, risk management, and project management tools. Data-driven decision-making processes take products from concept to commercialization. By focusing on design and process parameters, manufacturers can create six-sigma-capable products or services that are based on customer and market needs. In addition—and perhaps more importantly—DFSS enables a company to comply with the quality system regulation (QSR) in the product development process. DFSS can help firms meet QSR requirements because it incorporates quantifiable metrics, controls, statistical quality control techniques, and documentation.

Further, many QSR elements fit into each phase of a rigorous product development process. These phases can be broken down in a series of steps.

• Define the business case, customer requirements, and the intended use.
• Assess the technical requirements, specifications, and various design options.
• Develop and verify the product.
• Validate by piloting and testing the product internally; validate with the customer or end-user.
• Launch to full-scale production and commercialization.
• Sustain the product; monitor and track product capability through the entire supply chain.

Read more

As I’ve said in my previous posts, Six Sigma, being data-driven and fact-based, makes it sort of adaptable. Six Sigma’s tool such as quantifiable metrics, controls, statistical quality control techniques, and documentation spell the big difference.

I agree with Sastri when he says that companies should re-evaluate their product development schemes, that is if they are not yet using DFSS. With DFSS and QSR, new product development process acquires structure and clarity, thereby reducing risks and time to market. More importantly, the incorporation ensures regulatory compliance. With DFSS and QSR in your system, you can design, develop, manufature, and sell finished products that consumers needs. This definitely leads to product consistency and reliability, and sustainable sales, revenues, and profits.

Filed under: Tools/Toolkits

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Interweaving Six Sigma with Complementary Technologies

Posted by: meikah | 19 January 2006 | 10:39 am

Yesterday’s entry talked about Six Sigma’s (methodology) capability to be deployed simultaneously or in complementary with other process improvement strategies. Today, I would like to bring it further. I came across an article titled “Six Sigma: Complementary Technologies” saying that Six Sigma can actually be interwoven with other initiatives, especially complementary technologies or vice versa.

Six Sigma and improvement approaches such as CMM, CMMISM, PSPSM/TSPSM are complementary and mutually supportive. Depending on current organizational, project or individual circumstances, Six Sigma could be an enabler to launch CMM®, CMMISM, PSPSM, or TSPSM. Or, it could be a refinement toolkit/methodology within these initiatives. For instance, it might be used to select highest priority Process Areas within CMMISM or to select highest leverage metrics within PSPSM.

The Capability Maturity Model for Software (also known as the CMM and SW-CMM) has been a model used by many organizations to identify best practices useful in helping them increase the maturity of their processes.The technologies PSPSM/TSPSM help organizations measure return of investements (ROIs).

Examination of the Goal-Question-Metric (GQM), the software process improvement, Initiating-Diagnosing-Establishing-Acting-Leveraging (IDEALSM), and Practical Software Measurement (PSM) paradigms, likewise, shows compatibility and consistency with Six Sigma. A goal-driven method for developing and maintaining a meaningful metrics program, GQ(I)M meshes well with the Define-Measure steps of Six Sigma. IDEAL and Six Sigma share many common features, with IDEALSM being slightly more focused on change management and organizational issues and Six Sigma being more focused on tactical, data-driven analysis and decision making. PSM provides a software-tailored approach to measurement that may well serve the Six Sigma improvement framework.

It is indeed true that in the software and systems field Six Sigma can play a major role. The methodology may be used differently depending on the state of the business, but one thing’s clear. As long as an organization wants consistency in its processes, Six Sigma can help promote the establishment of a process. For an organization striving to streamline their existing processes, Six Sigma can be used as a refinement mechanism. Continue reading…

With these Six Sigma characteristics, no wonder many companies are now relying on Six Sigma to achieve their business goals.

Filed under: Tools/Toolkits

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Corporate Performance Management Dashboard and Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 18 January 2006 | 3:48 am

Corporate performance management (CPM) dashboard is defined as “a customized graphical interface that delivers mission-critical information on a real-time basis to business decision makers via a variety of visuals, including gauges, alerts, charts, table and spreadsheets.”

As businesses labor to cut costs and improve efficiency, data gathering and management become as challenging as ever. It has been obeserved that successful organizations are able to utilize key performance indicators (KPIs), customer metrics, operational benchmarks and balanced scorecards to their advantage. Such terms as gauges, meters, stoplights, interactive charts and alerts are now standard for monitoring and proactively managing business.

At the core of CPM dashboard are data warehouse, data marts, and analytical engine components. If designed, implemented, and managed correctly, these components make sure that data is consistent and accurate, providing solid support during business evaluation. Business users are able to assess cause-and-effect scenarios and decide on real-time data.

Where does Six Sigma come in the CPM dashboard? The CPM dashboard is extensive. It requires a framework and process that can blend management’s concerns (revenue growth/cost savings), business needs (data access/analyses) and technology deliverables (drill-down/collaborative communication capabilities). Among the many methodologies that have been developed, only one can formulate the mixture well, and that is Six Sigma.

According to Kent Bauer, managing director of Performance Management Practice at GRT Corporation in Stamford, CT, …

Six Sigma offers an approach that is customer-focused, business-value driven and data and fact-based. Process managers have defined Six Sigma as a barometer or thermostat for gauging and directing an organization’s strategic focus with a twist of IT: Six Sigma is a comprehensive business management strategy incorporating a broad array of business best practices focused on delivering business value and customer satisfaction by leveraging data assets and IT infrastructure.

Although many think of Six Sigma as purely focused on improving existing processes through the DMAIC methodology, a sister methodology DMADV has emerged to address the development of new products and processes. The DMADV process is well suited for IT development projects such as the CPM dashboard. Many Six Sigma tools, such as VOC, CTQ trees, stakeholder analysis, affinity diagrams, SIPOC flows and impact assessment, add significant structure to project development efforts while mitigating risk.

Bauer concludes that employing Six Sigma during CPM dashboard development and delivery gives integrity to the information generated. Business executives are then assured by the quality of information they needed to decide on matters affecting company performance and results.

Source: The Power of Metrics: The CPM Dashboard Meets Six Sigma
Reference: isixsigma dictionary

This capability of Six Sigma to be married to other performance and/or process improvement strategies or tools renders it valuable. I’ve dug up six entries in my archives that can attest to this flexibility.

Six Sigma and HPT
The Powerful Three: Lean, Six Sigma, and SCOR
Lean and Six Sigma Deployments
VOC and Six Sigma Projects
Six Sigma and DoE
Six Sigma and Organization Culture

Being data- and fact-based is I think what makes Six Sigma useful to most process improvement strategies. The business trend these days is managing based on data (real-time or otherwise). To be able to store and access information about customer, sales, profits, market base, finances etc. is very crucial in a day-to-day transaction. Having Six Sigma methodology incorporated well into the other quality and improvement strategies is definitely creating that competitive edge.

Filed under: General

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