A critical component to Lean Six Sigma’s success is data collection.  In today’s business environment, data is easily accessible, but you may find that when it comes to your project, you are data rich and information poor.

I have worked with project leaders that have gotten to the analyze phase without the data they need to answer the question for their hypothesis. In working with them, we often discover that when they approached data collection, they relied on existing data for their project. This leaves the team limited to finding solutions that fit the data versus gathering data to solve the problem. The truth is if you’re not collecting data that is relevant to the problem, you’re just trying to check the data box. Right?

When approaching data collection for your Lean Six Sigma project, it is important to not skip over the first and most important step; identifying your measures rather than identifying the data that is available.

To identify your measures, it is important that you have the key deliverables from the define phase:

  1. A complete and validated process map
  2. Clearly defined and validated customer requirements

With these deliverables in hand, you are ready to start the process of identifying the data that represents the input, output, and process measures that are your Critical Xs and Ys.

Lean Six Sigma output measures

Guidelines for Identifying Your Data

Start with the output measures (Critical Ys): Make sure that the output measure and the customer requirements are as closely related as possible. For each customer requirement, there should be a corresponding output measure.

Identify the Critical Xs in your process measures: Review the process map and identify the process measures that are linked to the “Points of Pain”.  Also, identify the measures where there is logical change or a decision point or hand-off. Ensure that your process measures are linked or correlated to output measures. Additionally, consider the value of each process step.  Will there be information or data needed to conduct the value analysis?

Don’t forget the input measures (Critical Xs): The timing, accuracy and even the necessity of inputs can have a great effect on the process, including these measurements can be telling about the process. Review the process map again for points of pain related to where the inputs enter throughout the process. Ensure that the input measures are linked or correlated to the process measures.

The X/Y Matrix

An X/Y Matrix is a great tool for illustrating the correlation of process inputs to customer’s outputs. The table utilizes a group of columns and rows, with factor X (input) represented by the horizontal axis and factor Y (output) represented by the vertical axis. The strength of relationship between the X and Y factors is identified as High, Medium or Low

Learn more about linking your data to the types of measures and receive a copy of the XY Matrix.

In our next blog we will explore my favorite tool, the SIPOC. It is a great tool for helping to identify the input, output, and process measures and so much more.

Do you like the SIPOC tool? If so, I would love to hear from you! Share with me what you like about the SIPOC and I will incorporate your feedback.