In Part 1 of this series, we reviewed the foundational concepts of Allergan’s visualization of The House of Lean Six Sigma, covering both the Foundation and Roof of their house diagram.
In Part 2, we jumped into Room 1, where a problem and its cause are known. This room represents a ripe opportunity for immediate application of the Improve stage of the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology.
In Part 3, we moved into Room 2, where a problem is known, but the cause is unknown. In this room, the Analyze phase of the Lean Six Sigma methodology takes precedence.
In Part 4, we continue to Room 3, where a problem is suspected but unknown. In this room, the first two stages of the DMAIC process—Define and Measure—become crucial. During the Define phase, the team attempts to articulate the suspected issue as clearly as possible. The Measure phase follows, where key performance indicators are identified and tracked to provide data and establish a baseline. This data-driven approach helps confirm the problem’s existence and quantifies its impact, setting the stage for further analysis.
DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
DMAIC is the more well-known and most-used Lean Six Sigma project method. DMAIC focuses on improving an existing process by incorporating the following phases:
- Define: Define the problem, output to be improved, customers, and process associated with the problem.
- Measure: Collect data from the process to establish a baseline for the improvements.
- Analyze: Analyze the data to find the root causes of defects.
- Improve: Develop, test, and implement solutions to improve the process.
- Control: Implement process controls to sustain the improvements.
Room 3 Tools
SIPOC is an acronym standing for Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers. It’s a visual tool used in the Define phase of Lean Six Sigma to outline a process at a high level. The SIPOC diagram helps teams understand a process’s context and scope, identify key elements and stakeholders, and ensure everyone has a shared understanding before delving into detailed process analysis.
Process Mapping is a flowcharting technique used in Lean Six Sigma to visually depict the sequence of activities in a process. The map includes details about inputs, outputs, decisions, tasks, and the flow of materials or information, offering a detailed view of the process. It helps identify sources of variation, waste, and opportunities for improvement.
Value Stream Mapping
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a Lean tool used to visualize and analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a customer. By charting all the steps and associated metrics (like cycle time, wait time, and value-added time), VSM helps to identify waste, bottlenecks, and process inefficiencies, providing a foundation for improvement strategies.
Run Charts are simple graphical tools used in Lean Six Sigma to display process performance over time. They plot a metric against time, allowing teams to identify trends, patterns, and shifts in the process. Run charts provide valuable insights into process stability and potential causes of variation.
Control Charts, also known as Shewhart charts, are more advanced versions of Run Charts used in the Control phase of Lean Six Sigma. In addition to displaying data over time, Control Charts include control limits to identify statistically significant changes in process performance. They are essential tools for monitoring, controlling, and improving processes.
Capability Analysis is a set of calculations used in Lean Six Sigma to assess whether a process can meet customer specifications or requirements. It compares the performance of a process against its specification limits to determine how well the process is running relative to what is expected or required. Capability Analysis provides valuable insights for process improvement and control.
While these tools are an integral part of a Six Sigma program, they can also be implemented as standalone quality improvement actions or as part of other process improvement initiatives. Return for future articles in this series to learn more about the other tools that support the House of Lean Six Sigma.
Process improvement is a way of life at Thurman Co.
In addition to an in-house culture that thrives on ownership and responsibility throughout our team, we help businesses manage projects to significantly impact their success and growth, which often includes analyzing and improving processes.
When you’re ready to put your project in the hands of a trusted professional organization, contact us to learn more about working together.