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Project Tools

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

People frequently have different opinions. Usually that's fine—if everybody thought the same way, life would be pretty boring—but many business decisions are based on opinion. And when different people in an organization reach different conclusions about the same business situation, problems follow.  Inconsistency and poor quality result when people being asked to make yes / no, pass / fail, and... Continue Reading
Process validation is vital to the success of companies that manufacture drugs and biological products for people and animals. According to the FDA guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Process validation is defined as the collection and evaluation of data, from the process design state through commercial production, which establishes scientific evidence that a... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

Do you know how to avoid them?

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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! Minitab’s Quality Companion has an easy-to-use VSM tool to guide yer way. Use a value stream map to illustrate the flow of materials... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger The great Dr. Seuss tells of Mr. Plunger, who is the custodian at Diffendoofer School on the corner of Dinkzoober and Dinzott in the town of Dinkerville. The good Mr. Plunger “keeps the whole school clean” using a supper-zooper-flooper-do. Unfortunately, Dr. Seuss fails to tell us where the supper-zooper-flooper-do came from and if the production process was... 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
Want to learn some simple tricks for preparing your graphs for presentation—specifically, how to add footnotes to your graphs, display your graphs in one layout, and add objects (shapes, text, etc.) to make your graphs easier to interpret? Below I’ll share three tips that can help you get your Minitab graphs presentation-ready! 1. Add a footnote to a graph: If you’re looking to add a footnote while... Continue Reading
The line plot is an incredibly agile but frequently overlooked tool in the quest to better understand your processes. In any process, whether it's baking a cake or processing loan forms, many factors have the potential to affect the outcome. Changing the source of raw materials could affect the strength of plywood a factory produces. Similarly, one method of gluing this plywood might be better... 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
Reliability analysis is the perfect tool for calculating the proportion of items that you can expect to survive for a specified period of time under identical operating conditions. Light bulbs—or lamps—are a classic example. Want to calculate the number of light bulbs expected to fail within 1000 hours? Reliability analysis can help you answer this type of question. But to conduct the analysis... Continue Reading
In Parts 1 and 2 of this blog series, I wrote about how statistical inference uses data from a sample of individuals to reach conclusions about the whole population. That’s a very powerful tool, but you must check your assumptions when you make statistical inferences. Violating any of these assumptions can result in false positives or false negatives, thus invalidating your results.  The common... Continue Reading
Dear Readers, As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the passage of time and changes. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I love statistics and analyzing data! I also love talking and writing about it. In fact, I’ve been writing statistical blog posts for over five years, and it’s been an absolute blast. John Tukey, the renowned statistician, once said, “The best thing about being a statistician... Continue Reading
by Matt Barsalou, guest blogger I know that Thanksgiving is always on the last Thursday in November, but somehow I failed to notice it was fast approaching until the Monday before Thanksgiving. This led to frantically sending a last-minute invitation, and a hunt for a turkey. I live in Germany and this greatly complicated the matter. Not only is Thanksgiving not celebrated, but also actual turkeys... Continue Reading
This week we’re celebrating the annual Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, which is not only a good time to reflect on the things we’re grateful for, but it’s also a good time to stuff yourself with turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the usual suspects that find their way to the Thanksgiving table! While I’m of course very thankful for my family, friends, home, etc., I’m also... Continue Reading
In this day and age, it’s not uncommon that data entry errors occur in data sets that are so large that looking for and correcting the errors by hand is impractical. Fortunately, Minitab includes tools that make it easy to get your data into shape, so that you can proceed to getting the answers you need. Let’s say, for example, that you were going to look at the Global Wood Density Database. It’s... Continue Reading
Pareto charts are a special type of bar chart you can use to prioritize almost anything. This makes them very useful in making sound decisions. For example, if you have several possible quality improvement projects, but not enough time or people to do them all now, you can use a Pareto chart to identify which projects have the most potential for making meaningful improvement. Pareto charts look... Continue Reading
At the inaugural Minitab Insights Conference in September, presenters Benjamin Turcan and Jennifer Berner discussed how to present data effectively. Among the considerations they discussed was choosing the right graph. Different graphs are good for different things. Of course, opinions about which graph is best can, and do, differ. Dotplot devotees might decide that they are demonstrably... Continue Reading
In Part 1 of this blog series, I wrote about how statistical inference uses data from a sample of individuals to reach conclusions about the whole population. That’s a very powerful tool, but you must check your assumptions when you make statistical inferences. Violating any of these assumptions can result in false positives or false negatives, thus invalidating your results.  The common data... Continue Reading
If your work involves quality improvement, you've at least heard of Design of Experiments (DOE). You probably know it's the most efficient way to optimize and improve your process. But many of us find DOE intimidating, especially if it's not a tool we use often. How do you select an appropriate design, and ensure you've got the right number of factors and levels? And after you've gathered your... Continue Reading
Statistical inference uses data from a sample of individuals to reach conclusions about the whole population. It’s a very powerful tool. But as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility!” When attempting to make inferences from sample data, you must check your assumptions. Violating any of these assumptions can result in false positives or false negatives, thus invalidating... Continue Reading