Join Steven Brown for an in-depth discussion in this video Control, part of Lean Six Sigma Foundations.
- Control is the most important step in the DMAIC methodology. Now, that's a pretty bold statement, so let me tell you why this is so. Control is what enables you to have a continuous improvement organization, and every successful company today is continuously improving. In the control phase, you make the improvement permanent. You put in place tools and procedures to ensure your solution is maintained and the change is everlasting. In doing so, you have now established a new process and a new baseline for performance, and you are ready to improve that new process again.
Because successful companies follow a continuous improvement philosophy, the control step connects the Six Sigma program with all other company efforts in quality management, engineering, and process improvement. The controls you put into place do not have to be elaborate at all. Many times they are something as simple as a supervisor's checklist or monthly review meetings or the use of a new process control chart. If it is a change in standard operating procedures, you must make sure policy and procedure manuals are updated to reflect the new standard.
And equally important, you must provide for ongoing training in that new standard. The important thing is to have a mechanism in place to ensure you maintain the new baseline of performance. Otherwise, a continuous improvement effort is simply not possible because you will have slipped back to the original process and the original level of performance. Since the Six Sigma team often is not directly responsible for the improved process, it is important that the new process is documented properly for the process owner.
You also want to include guidance on how to monitor process performance. The best monitoring systems are automatic, identifying and notifying the process owner when performance is drifting out of an acceptable range. Closely related to effective monitoring systems are the control tools of mistake prevention and mistake proofing. Mistake prevention means you want to implement procedures that make it difficult to make a mistake in the first place. Some computerized forms, for example, only allow you to enter data in a certain format, the format that is acceptable to the company software systems.
This prevents incomplete forms or forms with errors from even entering the system. Mistake proofing means that if someone does make a mistake it is not passed on to the next step. A good example of mistake proofing in your everyday life occurs when a restaurant server repeats your order before leaving the table. If a mistake has been made, you have the opportunity to correct it before the server places your order with the kitchen. In the drive-through lane of a typical fast food restaurant, you notice such mistake proofing tools being used several times in the process.
At this point in the control process, the team should also document the gains realized from the improvement, comparing output data of the old and the new processes. This data goes into your financial calculations, which establish the success of your Six Sigma project, and this step marks the end of the project. Once your improvement is in place with the proper control measures and you have verified the financial benefit of your new process, you are able to formally close your project, and you are now ready to celebrate your success.
Steven outlines the process stages in Six Sigma (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control), along with the Lean toolkit: the 5s principles, kanban (scheduling), downtime, poka-yoke (error proofing), and kaizen (continuous improvement). He also explains how leadership works within Lean Six Sigma, the principles of project execution, and how Lean Six Sigma is applied to the service sector and supply chain management. Make sure to watch the "Next steps" video at the end of the course for further resources.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Why Lean Six Sigma?
- Understanding the five steps of Six Sigma
- Understanding the 5 Ss of Lean
- Leading a Lean Six Sigma project
- Controlling a Lean Six Sigma project
- Using Lean Six Sigma for services and supply chain management