Measurement is something that happens all through the life of a project. But, the Measure Phase of DMAIC, which is a Six Sigma process evaluates how the process performs in the present situation. This second phase also endeavors to find answers to the questions related to the magnitude of the issues spotted in the design phase and how bad the issues are. As a team begins to collect data, they pay attention to the process and also what customers look for. It means that the teams will have to decide whether they should improve quality or bring down lead time.
During this phase of DMAIC, the team will refine the definitions of each measure. It also spots the present performance as mentioned earlier. In other words, the baseline of the project or process is measured at this phase of DMAIC.
Measure Phase in Six Sigma:
This phase holds the second position in the DMAIC process of Six Sigma followed by the Define Phase. Now, after knowing the answer to your question of what is measure phase of Six Sigma, you will be interested in knowing its timeline.
The Measure Phase is a process that extends to around 2 to 3 weeks on the project inputs. This phase pays attention to the collection of quality data. This becomes possible only with the involvement of the appropriate stakeholders.
In short, the Measure Phase is all about the foundation of the present process, validation of the measurement system, data collection, and spotting the process capability.
Important Steps in the Measure Phase:
You know what is measure phase in Six Sigma. Before you know the outcomes to expect from this phase, it is better to know about the key steps involved in this phase of DMAIC:
1. Mapping of Process:
The Measure Phase begins with mapping the present process. Followed by this, the team lead will have to outline every step in detail. These steps should be completed to achieve the expected final outcome. For instance, when it comes to a business service application, the outcome can be anything like invoicing process and customer ordering procedure. Even, it can denote the entire production process in a computer production facility.
2. Measurement Plan:
In this second step, you will have to spot how to measure and gather dependable data on the present process. Your measurement plan should provide details like:
- Who will be collecting the data?
- What is the frequency of the data collection?
- When will the process take place?
- What method will be used for recording the collected data?
- How will the data be pulled into the central database?
Your organization will already have data collection structures in use. Nevertheless, you might need to set up new ones. When it comes to business services, this could formally be recording the time required for rework that goes into gathering additional details from clients. When it comes to production, it might be gathering machine temperature sensor data typically used by operators alone and feeding the same into the central database. Only then, it can be analyzed later when the same is needed.
3. Data Collection Over a Defined Period:
The amount of data required and the time required for gathering rely on different factors. For instance, some factors include project urgency, measurement frequency, and the cost required for the collection.
It is better to make sure that you do not rush in advance with data that is yet to be finished or has not had sufficient time to gather.
Gathering Data for Defect Rates:
Apart from following the steps above, you will also have to gather data for defect rates. To measure the rate of defects in a process, you can begin with data related to the reject rate. Thereafter, you can expand to look at other parameters of the process.
In this process, it is better to make sure that you look across the whole process from different angles. Examples include the number of rejects in a particular lot, the number of rejects during a particular period, the characteristics of rejects, personnel who worked on the rejected items, etc.
Apart from gathering complete details about rejects, you should also ask yourself about the drivers that could lead to variation.
At the end of these processes in the Measure Phase of Six Sigma, you would have a lot of data about defects. As a result, your team can move on to the next phase of analyzing the project to gain better insights.
Objectives of the Measure Phase:
When you are at the Measure Phase of the DMAIC approach, you will gather detailed data that explains the present performance of your process based on the requirements of your customers.
This data you gather will function as the foundation for further processes. From this data, you can get a clear understanding of the issue that you are trying to fix. Also, it will permit you to directly compare performance prior to and following the improvements you implement. The key objective of the Measure Phase is to get a complete understanding of how the process is performed presently.
Deliverables of Six Sigma Measure Phase:
DMAIC measure phase deliverables are nothing but the outcomes you can expect on the completion of the Measure Phase of DMAIC. When you are in the Measure Phase, you will have to perform a lot of tasks. Further, the tasks you perform at this phase will have a huge impact on the performance of the phases that follow. This is why it is crucial to comprehend and apply deliverables.
The tasks that your team completes in this phase will set the tone for how the remaining process will unfold. So, your team should give the utmost attention when engaging in any tasks in this phase. Here are the common deliverables of a successful Measure Phase in the DMAIC process:
Commonly Accepted Indicators:
Handling a number of variables is a key trait of a successful Six Sigma Project. These variables include parameters, processes, outputs and inputs. To make sure that these variables are maintained at the optimum level, the method of measuring them should be agreed upon. This involves splitting the inputs into the smallest possible units. It also encompasses the development of composite metrics, where more than a single variable generates the metric on the basis of the weighted average. The weighted averages and the decision variables should be carefully considered to make sure of the right action and reporting.
Operational Definition of Indicators:
The philosophy of Six Sigma always depends on objective facts as against tactical knowledge. It is for this reason not only the composite variables and variables should be decided but also the method to calculate them should be mentioned transparently in a document. There is a chance of confusion and ambiguity at a later stage if the definitions can be understood in more than a single way.
Data Collection Plan:
In the Measure Phase of Six Sigma, you should create a plan to collect data. This plan should correspond to the variables chosen. The data collection plan necessitates assigning responsibilities explicitly about gathering data. In case, the data collection process has been automated, the person, who will be handling the perfection of the process should also be stated such that others can know.
Gathering population data for the Six Sigma project is a costly endeavor. Thanks to different sampling techniques available that work similarly to Population Data! From the Six Sigma methodology, you can get to know the right sampling technique to follow based on your project requirements. Nevertheless, the decision must be arrived at and sampling information should be part of the Data Collection Plan for quick reference just in case doubts arise in the future.
Validated Measurement System:
One of the key DMAIC measure phase deliverables is the Measurement System Analysis. Its purpose is to validate whether the data collected from the process is dependable and can be used for analysis in further phases.
A successful Measure Phase in DMAIC needs close working between different departments in your organization. Not only the members of the Six Sigma team but also statisticians should work together. Fitting software programs might be needed at this phase. So, the team should have people with knowledge of the best software programs available in the market.
The Best Tools for Measure Phase of Six Sigma:
The three major tollgates of the Measure Phase of Six Sigma include establishing the performance indicators, creating of a data collection plan and developing a baseline performance measure.
Thanks to the different tools available to make the Measure Phase easy for Six Sigma Teams. These tools might not fit all teams as their requirements and purpose vary. Nevertheless, some tools might help Six Sigma teams with the Measure Phase effectively irrespective of the purpose of the team and objective. The Pareto Chart, check sheets and Capability Analysis are the popular tools used by Six Sigma tools to achieve the objective of the Measure Phase with ease.
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By the end of the Measure Phase of DMAIC, you will be able to find answers to a lot of questions. Examples include:
- Where and how did you collect the data?
- How to establish your improvement target?
- What is the present performance of the process?
- Are you using continuous or attribute data and why?
- How did you make sure of randomness in your data collection?
- What does the distribution of your data look like?
- What is your sampling plan?
- How reproductive or repeatable is your data?