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Process Improvement Essentials by James R. Persse PhD

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Improve

The I in DMAIC is for improvement. Through the collection and analysis of data, the Six Sigma team will reach a point where it has amassed enough information to determine how to make the process better. And so, it then works to improve the process, making changes so the process is more effective, more efficient, or both. All of this comes from the insights provided by the data. With Six Sigma, the solution is always in the data.

Through data collection and analysis, you will come to understand how the process performs, what its strong points are, what its weak points are, what kinds of defects are entering into the system, and where specifically they are coming in.

You can think of the analysis phase of Six Sigma as the point at which you identify the root causes of defects. You can think of the improvement phase as the point at which you remove the root causes.

The improvement phase generally consists of a series of six steps:

  1. Assess

  2. Develop

  3. Select

  4. Modify

  5. Pilot

  6. Verify

Let's take a brief look at each.

Assess

Through the analysis of the data, you and your team will have at hand a collection of improvement indicators. These indicators will point to where the process has significant variation, where it tends to become more unpredictable than at other points, and where it begins to drop its level of control. This is where you and your team should begin to assess your options. You focus on the root causes of defect introduction. The data should give you multiple ideas as to how to modify ...

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