Six Sigma - Introduction to Measure Phase

The mention of the Measure phase of the Six Sigma module brings into mind pictures of statisticians performing complex operations on data to derive meaning out of it. While this is true to some extent, the complexity of the process is highly over-rated. True, that there is a tremendous amount of statistics involved. However, in recent times, the statistics part is being taken care of by the software. Humans need to understand the logical part of the process and provide input to the software and interpret its outputs. The major objectives of the Six Sigma module are mentioned below:

Determine What to Measure ?

The Six Sigma project team needs to come out with an explicit list of vital inputs, desired outputs and process metrics that they are planning to track. The fact that there are probably hundreds of metrics makes it important to identify and list the vital few. This decision has large scale implications on the performance of the project and is usually taken by the Project Lead on the basis of data provided by the Six Sigma team and the Process Owner.

Determine How to Measure ?

There have been many cases of measurement bias in Six Sigma history. The bias may have its roots in the complexity of the calculation, the wrong method of data collection or the bias of the person performing the exercise. However, methods have been developed to get rid of all these errors. Measurements are taken automatically, calculated automatically and sent to the concerned managers automatically who use pre-defined rules to make a decision.

Manage the Measurement Process

One of the biggest challenges of this phase is to validate the fact that the measurement system in place is good for the purpose. We have discussed this challenge in detail in the section titled Management Systems Analysis.

Calculating the Current Sigma Levels

Measure phase also includes collecting the measures that the current process has. This includes measuring the defects per million. Once the defects per million are calculated, the current Sigma Level of the process is found out. This gives the team an idea of the effort that may be required out of them.

Financial Estimation of the Losses

A common practise in the measure phase is to put a figure in front of the losses that the organization is currently facing due to inefficient processes. This helps the management valuate the process and the Six Sigma team can bargain for more resources to successfully implement the project. The financial numbers help re-iterate the project value in front of the Project Champion and the Senior Management.

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