Blog posts and articles about using data analysis and statistics in quality improvement initiatives in services.

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
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
It’s common to think that process improvement initiatives are meant to cater only to manufacturing processes, simply because manufacturing is where Lean and Six Sigma began. However, many other industries, in particular financial services and banking, also rely on data analysis and Lean Six Sigma tools to improve processes. Rod Toro is a business process improvement manager at Edward Jones, and I... Continue Reading
The value of analyzing data is well established in industries like manufacturing and mining, but data-driven process and quality improvement is increasingly being adopted in service industries like retail sales and healthcare, too. In this blog post, I'll discuss how a simple data analysis may be used to improve processes in the service sector. Suppose we want to improve the way incoming calls are... Continue Reading
We tend to think of control charts only for monitoring the stability of processes, but they can be helpful for analyzing a process before and after an improvement as well. Not only do control charts allow you to monitor your process for out-of-control data points, but you’ll be able to see how your process mean and variability change as a result of the improvement. You might create separate before... Continue Reading
When trying to solve complex problems, you should first list all the suspected variables identify the few critical factors and separate them from the trivial many, which are not essential to understanding the cause.          Many statistical tools enable you to efficiently identify the effects that are statistically significant in order to converge on the root cause of a problem (for example ANOVA,... Continue Reading
Process improvement through methodologies such as Six Sigma and Lean has found its way into nearly every industry. While Six Sigma had its beginnings in manufacturing, we’ve seen it and other process improvement techniques work very well in the service industry—from healthcare to more service-oriented business functions, such as human resources. However, Six Sigma seems to have had a slower rate of... Continue Reading
All processes are affected by various sources of variations over time. Products which are designed based on optimal settings, will, in reality, tend to drift away from their ideal settings during the manufacturing process. Environmental fluctuations and process variability often cause major quality problems. Focusing only on costs and performances is not enough. Sensitivity to deterioration and... Continue Reading
Should this doctor consult a regression model? In a previous post, I wrote about how the field of statistics is more important now than ever before due to the modern deluge of data. Because you’re reading Minitab's statistical blog, I’ll assume that we’re in agreement that statistics allows you to use data to understand reality. However, I’d also bet that you’re picturing important but “typical”... Continue Reading
Human resources might not be a business area where you’d typically expect to conduct a Six Sigma project. However, Jeff Parks, Lean Six Sigma master black belt, found the opportunity to apply Six Sigma to human resources while leading quality improvement efforts at a large manufacturer of aerospace engine parts. The manufacturer was suffering from high employee attrition, or turnover, and struggled... Continue Reading
Measurement systems analysis (MSA) is essential to the success of any data analysis. If you cannot rely on the tool you’re using to take measurements, then why bother collecting data to begin with? It would be like trying to lose weight while relying on a scale that doesn’t work. What’s the point in weighing yourself? Minitab Statistical Software offers many types of tools that you can use to... Continue Reading
It’s common to think that process improvement initiatives are meant to cater only to manufacturing processes, simply because manufacturing is where Lean and Six Sigma began. However, many other industry segments, such as healthcare and banking, also rely on data analysis and Lean Six Sigma tools to improve processes (even if those processes are more service-based). For example, it’s increasingly... Continue Reading
Sharing how people and companies use Minitab software to improve quality is without a doubt the highlight of my job! It never ceases to amaze me that a common thread among many organizations is the desire to keep continuous improvement at the forefront of their business. It’s also pretty neat that many of these same organizations trust Minitab to analyze their data and organize their quality... Continue Reading
I got the chance recently to learn about how the United States Army used Minitab Statistical Software to improve a crucial internal process for deciding a soldier’s job status following a medical concern. This decision is made through the MOS/Medical Retention Board Process (MMRB) and affects nearly 8,000 soldiers and their families per year, as well as numerous military commanders in charge... Continue Reading
Variation is everywhere. It’s in your daily commute to work, it’s in the amount of caffeine you drink every day, in the number of e-mails that arrive in your inbox, etc. Whether you’re monitoring something as ordinary as caffeine consumption or something more important like a multi-million dollar manufacturing process, you can use one simple tool to monitor variation and determine whether the... Continue Reading
You probably know that grocery stores have all sorts of tactics to keep you in the store longer—from making you walk all the way to the back of the store to grab a gallon of milk, to stimulating your senses by playing feel-good music and leading you through the bakery with the smell of fresh baked bread.The marketing gurus behind grocery stores theorize that the longer you’re in the store, the... Continue Reading