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Project Tools

Blog posts and articles about tools and techniques that help keep Lean and Six Sigma projects on track.

Everyone who analyzes data regularly has the experience of getting a worksheet that just isn't ready to use. Previously I wrote about tools you can use to clean up and eliminate clutter in your data and reorganize your data.  In this post, I'm going to highlight tools that help you get the most out of messy data by altering its characteristics. Know Your Options Many problems with data don't become... Continue Reading
Control charts are excellent tools for looking at data points that seem unusual and for deciding whether they're worthy of investigation. If you use control charts frequently, then you're used to the idea that if certain subgroups reflect temporary abnormalities, you can leave them out when you calculate your center line and control limits. If you include points that you already know are... Continue Reading
In my last post, I wrote about making a cluttered data set easier to work with by removing unneeded columns entirely, and by displaying just those columns you want to work with now. But too much unneeded data isn't always the problem. What can you do when someone gives you data that isn't organized the way you need it to be?   That happens for a variety of reasons, but most often it's because the... Continue Reading
Isn't it great when you get a set of data and it's perfectly organized and ready for you to analyze? I love it when the people who collect the data take special care to make sure to format it consistently, arrange it correctly, and eliminate the junk, clutter, and useless information I don't need.   You've never received a data set in such perfect condition, you say? Yeah, me neither. But I can... Continue Reading
by Jasmin Wong, guest blogger The combination of statistical methods and injection moulding simulation software gives manufacturers a powerful way to predict moulding defects and to develop a robust moulding process at the part design phase.  CAE (computer-aided engineering) is widely used in the injection moulding industry today to improve product and mould designs as well as to resolve or... Continue Reading
Here's a shocking finding from the most recent ASQ Global State of Quality report: The higher you rise in your organization's leadership, the less often you receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.   A quarter of the senior executives reported getting quality metrics on a monthly basis, at least. But... Continue Reading
We like to host webinars, and our customers and prospects like to attend them. But when our webinar vendor moved from a pay-per-person pricing model to a pay-per-webinar pricing model, we wanted to find out how to maximize registrations and thereby minimize our costs. We collected webinar data on the following variables: Webinar topic Day of week Time of day – 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Newsletter promotion –... Continue Reading
I’ve written about the importance of checking your residual plots when performing linear regression analysis. If you don’t satisfy the assumptions for an analysis, you might not be able to trust the results. One of the assumptions for regression analysis is that the residuals are normally distributed. Typically, you assess this assumption using the normal probability plot of the residuals. Are... Continue Reading
Halloween's right around the corner, so here's a scary thought for the statistically minded: That pattern in your time series plot? Maybe it's just a ghost. It might not really be there at all.   That's right. The trend that seems so evident might be a phantom. Or, if you don't believe in that sort of thing, chalk it up to the brain's desire to impose order on what we see, even when it doesn't... Continue Reading
Suppose that you plan to source a substantial amount of parts or subcomponents from a new supplier. To ensure that their quality level is acceptable to you, you might want to assess the capability levels (Ppk and Cpk indices) of their manufacturing processes and check whether their critical process parameters are fully under control (using control charts). If you are not sure about the efficiency... Continue Reading
In quality initiatives such as Six Sigma, practitioners often need to assess the capability of a process to make sure it can meet specifications, or to verify that it produces good parts. While many Minitab users are familiar with the capability analysis tools in the Stat menu and in Minitab’s Assistant, the Assistant includes a less-frequently used feature—the Capability Snapshot. What Is the... Continue Reading
I’m always on the lookout for statistical news, so I was excited by the recent Matt Phillips article on Quartz titled Painfully, American families are learning the difference between median and mean. Phillips' allegory about Warren Buffet walking into a skid row bar makes a nice illustration of the statistical question about how outliers affect the mean. (If you want more on the mean and... Continue Reading
Keeping your vehicle fueled up is expensive. Maximizing the miles you get per gallon of fuel saves money and helps the environment, too.  But knowing if you're getting good mileage requires some data analysis, which gives us a good opportunity to apply one of the common tools used in Six Sigma -- the I-MR (individuals and moving range) control chart to daily life.    Finding Trends or Unusual... Continue Reading
Using statistical techniques to optimize manufacturing processes is quite common now, but using the same approach on social topics is still an innovative approach. For example, if our objective is to improve student academic performances, should we increase teachers wages or would it be better to reduce the number of students in a class? Many social topics (the effect of increasing the minimum... Continue Reading
You might not have known, but September is Attendance Awareness Month. Specifically, attendance of children at American public schools. The organization Attendance Works recently came out with a report that highlights the learning gap between students with strong attendance and students with poor attendance. Statistical software helps us quickly and easily create graphs that make it easier to... Continue Reading
by The Discrete Sharer, guest blogger As Minitab users, many of us have found staged control charts to be an effective tool to quantify and demonstrate the “before and after” state of our process improvement activities. However, have you ever considered using them to demonstrate the effects of changes to compensation/incentive plans for your employees?  Here's an example of how a mid-sized... Continue Reading
If you’re already a strong user of Minitab Statistical Software, then you’re probably familiar with how to use bar charts to show means, medians, sums, and other statistics. Bar charts are excellent tools, but traditionally used when you want all of your categorical variables to have different sections on the chart. When you want to plot statistics with groups that flow directly from one category... Continue Reading
I caught the end of Toy Story over the weekend, which is definitely one of my all-time favorite children’s movies. Now—unfortunately or fortunately—I can’t get Randy Newman's theme song,“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” out of my head! It's also got me thinking about the nature of friendship, and how "best friends forever" are supposed to always be there when you need them. And, not to get too maudlin... Continue Reading
Choosing the right type of subgroup in a control chart is crucial. In a rational subgroup, the variability within a subgroup should encompass common causes, random, short-term variability and represent “normal,” “typical,” natural process variations, whereas differences between subgroups are useful to detect drifts in variability over time (due to “special” or “assignable” causes). Variation within... Continue Reading
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for any kid, so much so that we even use the expression "taking the training wheels off" for all kinds of situations. We say it to mean that we are going to let someone perform an activity on their own after removing some safeguard, even though we know they will likely experience failures before becoming proficient at it. You see, riding a bike requires... Continue Reading