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Project Tools

Blog posts about statistical and practical tools used to manage quality improvement projects including Lean and Six Sigma initiatives.

Ahoy, matey! Ye’ve come to the right place to learn about Value Stream Maps (VSM).  Just as a treasure map can lead a band o’ pirates to buried treasures, so too can the VSM lead a process improvement bilge rat to the loot buried deep inside a process! Companion by Minitab has an easy-to-use VSM tool to guide yer way. Use a value stream map to illustrate the flow of materials and information as a... Continue Reading
Did you ever get a pair of jeans or a shirt that you liked, but didn't quite fit you perfectly? That happened to me a few months ago. The jeans looked good, and they were very well made, but it took a while before I was comfortable wearing them. I much prefer it when I can get a pair with a perfect fit, that feel like I was born in them, with no period of "adjustment."  So which pair do you think I... Continue Reading
If you’re familiar with Lean Six Sigma, then you’re familiar with DMAIC. DMAIC is the acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This proven problem-solving strategy provides a structured 5-phase framework to follow when working on an improvement project. This is the first post in a five-part series that focuses on the tools available in Minitab Statistical Software that are most... Continue Reading
No matter how experienced you are at analyzing data, communicating about your results can be a tremendous challenge. So it's not surprising that "Effectively Reporting Your Data Analysis" was one of the best-attended sessions at the inaugural Minitab Insights Conference last month.  The presenters, Benjamin Turcan and Jennifer Berner of First Niagara Bank, have a great deal of experience improving... Continue Reading
A reader asked a great question in response to a post I wrote about Pareto charts. Our readers typically do ask great questions, but this one turned out to be more difficult to answer than it first seemed. My correspondent wrote:  My understanding is that when you have count data, a bar chart is the way to go. The gaps between the bars emphasize that the data are not measured on a continuous scale.... Continue Reading
We hosted our first-ever Minitab Insights conference in September, and if you were among the attendees, you already know the caliber of the speakers and the value of the information they shared. Experts from a wide range of industries offered a lot of great lessons about how they use data analysis to improve business practices and solve a variety of problems. I blogged earlier about five key... Continue Reading
I confess: I'm not a natural-born decision-maker. Some people—my wife, for example—can assess even very complex situations, consider the options, and confidently choose a way forward. Me? I get anxious about deciding what to eat for lunch. So you can imagine what it used to be like when I needed to confront a really big decision or problem. My approach, to paraphrase the Byrds, was "Re:... Continue Reading
To assess if a process is stable and in statistical control, you can use a control chart. It lets you answer the question "is the process that you see today going to be similar to the process that you see tomorrow?" To assess and quantify how well your process falls within specification limits, you can use capability analysis. Both of these tools are easy to use in Minitab, but you first need to... Continue Reading
I blogged a few months back about three different Minitab tools you can use to examine your data over time. Did you know you that you can also use a simple run chart to display how your process data changes over time? Of course those “changes” could be evidence of special-cause variation, which a run chart can help you see. What’s special-cause variation, and how’s it different from common-cause... Continue Reading
If you've used our software, you’re probably used to many of the things you can do in Minitab once you’ve fit a model. For example, after you fit a response to a given model for some predictors with Stat > DOE > Response Surface > Analyze Response Surface Design, you can do the following: Predict the mean value of the response variable for new combinations of settings of the predictors. Draw... Continue Reading
In my last post, we took the red pill and dove deep into the unarguably fascinating and uncompromisingly compelling world of the matrix plot. I've stuffed this post with information about a topic of marginal interest...the marginal plot. Margins are important. Back in my English composition days, I recall that margins were particularly prized for the inverse linear relationship they maintained with... Continue Reading
The last thing you want to do when you purchase a new piece of software is spend an excessive amount of time getting up and running. You’ve probably been ready to the use the software since, well, yesterday. Minitab has always focused on making our software easy to use, but many professional software packages do have a steep learning curve. Whatever package you’re using, here are three things you... Continue Reading
Since opening a new office in Phoenix to support our customers on the West Coast, some evenings in Minitab technical support feel busier than others. (By evenings, I mean after 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, when the members of our tech support team in Pennsylvania go home for the day, and I become an office of one.) The variability in terms of days that felt extremely busy versus days that didn’t... Continue Reading
When you analyze a Gage R&R study in statistical software, your results can be overwhelming. There are a lot of statistics listed in Minitab's Session Window—what do they all mean, and are they telling you the same thing? If you don't know where to start, it can be hard to figure out what the analysis is telling you, especially if your measurement system is giving you some numbers you'd think are... Continue Reading
While the roots of Lean Six Sigma and other quality improvement methodologies are in manufacturing, it’s interesting to see how other organizational functions and industries apply LSS tools successfully. Quality improvement certainly has moved far beyond the walls of manufacturing plants! For example, I recently had the opportunity to talk to Drew Mohler, a Lean Six Sigma black belt and senior... Continue Reading
In my last post, I walked through the steps to install Minitab 17 on a Mac using Apple Boot Camp.  Minitab 17 can also be installed on a Mac using desktop virtualization software. In addition to your Mac, you’ll need: A copy of Windows 7 or later version ISO Minitab 17 Statistical Software Desktop virtualization software allows you to install and use Windows on your Intel-based Mac without requiring... Continue Reading
In Part 5 of our series, we began the analysis of the experiment data by reviewing analysis of covariance and blocking variables, two key concepts in the design and interpretation of your results. The 250-yard marker at the Tussey Mountain Driving Range, one of the locations where we conducted our golf experiment. Some of the golfers drove their balls well beyond this 250-yard maker during a few of... Continue Reading
Whatever industry you're in, you're going to need to buy supplies. If you're a printer, you'll need to purchase inks, various types of printing equipment, and paper. If you're in manufacturing, you'll need to obtain parts that you don't make yourself.  But how do you know you're making the right choice when you have multiple suppliers vying to fulfill your orders?  How can you be sure you're... Continue Reading
Before I joined Minitab, I worked for many years in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences as a writer and editor. I frequently wrote about food science and particularly food safety, as I regularly needed to report on the research being conducted by Penn State's food safety experts, and also edited course materials and bulletins for professionals and consumers about ensuring they had safe... Continue Reading
By Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger.   Minitab Statistical Software can assist us in our analysis of data, but we must make judgments when selecting the data for an analysis. A good operational definition can be invaluable for ensuring the data we collect can be effectively analyzed using software. Dr. W. Edwards Deming explains in Out of the Crisis (1989), “An operational definition of safe, round,... Continue Reading