Process improvement is vital for any business in any industry. Since change is a constant, we want to continually improve the quality and standards of not only our products, but also how we run the day-to-day tasks to create those products or services.
Six Sigma methodologies using the DMAIC have certain tools that are easy to use and can aid tremendously in process improvement.
In the Define Phase: A great tool is a Project Charter. This is a sort of tell-all about the ensuing project. This includes the main goal, project scope, all those involved including key decision makers, the lead of the project, and team members involved. The cost of risks and poor quality, which would include the baseline metrics on how things measure up before improvement, are also included.
Included in the Project Charter is a Process Map. This is a great visual tool to get the clear picture of how the current process is flowing or not flowing. Through the process map you can easily see where you would need to re-work the task to eliminate waste in order to save on time and production costs.
In the Measure Phase: A Cause and Effect Diagram can help identify probable causes and their effects. With this tool you can see which inputs are related to which outputs and quickly identify variables. The Cause and Effect Diagram is also known as Ishikawa diagram. Benchmarking is another tool used to introduce better process driven practices based on customer requirements. This tool used usually used in conjunction with Voice of Customer (VOC). Complete the VOC first so that pertinent information is obtained regarding customer needs.
In the Analyze Phase: A great method is running a Root Cause Analysis (RCA), which includes the tool of the 5 Whys. When using the 5 Whys, you find an effect and work backwards by asking why until a satisfactory answer is achieved.
Improve Phase: These tools include Brainstorming for solutions that could work. Doing some Pilot Testing, which have eliminated previous risks.
Control Phase: This is the new and improved process that you’ve come up with and the tools will be a Control Plan, which is monitoring at its best. It will include a well thought Control Chart and a Monitoring and Response Plan.