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How good is your process at work?

Have you ever wondered how effective you were at work when following the business processes? Do you find yourself spending time complaining with your colleagues about how cumbersome the process is, sharing stories? You may even bring it up in the next meeting hoping someone will fix it but somehow it falls between the cracks and doesn’t even make the meeting minutes.

Numbers make a more compelling story than just words. Whether it’s in the form of money, trending graph, metric, or comparison to an industry standard, data will always have more impact than just describing the issue. In this blog, you will learn a quick and dirty calculation you can do to achieve a quantifiable result on the effectiveness of your process.

The metric is called discrete process capability and it is part of the lean six sigma toolkit. According to research from Motorola, reaching entitlement or as close as possible to a perfect process would yield a six-sigma result. If your process is at six-sigma, then statistically you would have no more than 3.4 failures or defects with every million times you run the process. This is as close as you would get to a perfect process. Therefore, the further you are from a six-sigma result, the more times the process will fail.

Setting aside the statistical tools out there, there is an uncomplicated way of calculating the discrete process capability in Excel. Keep in mind, it’s important to understand that by using this calculator you are going to be limiting your statistical calculations where you are looking only into common cause variation in your process and excluding the special cause variation.

For example, if you pull data for five days out of the week, you are looking at how many discrepancies occur overall for the week, not within each day. Looking at the discrepancies within each day and seeing the effect it has on the overall would be considered special cause variation.

Therefore, the data you are collecting from the process you want to measure is the following:

# of Data Points: total number of data points collected when running your process

# of Groups: number of subgroups; example, if the data you collected data from three people using the process, then place three

# of Defects: number of times the process yielded a failure within the total number of data points you collected when running your process

Go to the Discrete Capability Calculator attached to this blog to enter these three numbers and calculate your process’ capability in terms of a sigma value.

Discrete Capability Calculator
Download XLSX • 279KB

It will also give you how many defects are foreseen to occur when the process is run one million times. You can take an extra step by calculating the dollars spent due to the failure occurring. Just research past failures and see how much they cost the company. Then you can make a prediction of how much it will cost the company in the current month or year if this problem persists.

Next time you are speaking with your colleagues or management and want them to help you improve on the process which has been a thorn in your side, use these numbers along with your explanation of the issue. You will find it will be more compelling and gain more traction in getting your issue resolved.

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