Showing posts from April, 2010

Lean Applications in Product Development- Customer First Approach

The Customer First Approach

How many times do we start a project with this foremost in our minds, then as the project progresses we start to lose fact of one of the most important processes in ANY methodology (Agile, Waterfall, Six Sigma) This is and should be the first step in any product development process, you need to understand the definition of the term value from the customer’s perspective. Your team or organization should go above and beyond to understand, define and to help accomplish your customer’s needs, as well as assist in the long term objectives of the organization and your customers business. Your team’s product should be developed in a way that the customers are always satisfied and the team resources are always used in an optimum manner. The principles of Lean will help in achieving these objectives for your project, team and organization. Well defined projects mean successful projects.

Lean Applications in Product Development

There is stiff competition in the market these days from Europe and Emerging Markets so therefore, it is very important for organizations to create their products (software, widgets, etc) quickly. The product development of an organization is its greatest asset because it helps to develop products which are better, and reach the customers when and how they want it. The entire focus of Lean applications has been in the manufacturing domain and not on product development. The companies (Pratt & Whitney, Toyota, and Apple) who have applied the concepts of Lean (like cycle time reduction) in the arena of product development have achieved significant results. Lean devotees say that there are “seven basic principles” which account for optimized product development process. I will list and detail each principal.

1. Holistic, Approach to Systems

The fundamentals of the product development system like people and processes should be coordinated to each other. The team working on a produc…

What is Lean and What’s it All About?

So my new discussions are going to have to deal with Lean Management and the use of it in the IT field. I am going to focus on the “Lean Enterprise” aspect of Lean as well as pros and cons and a brief history of Lean used today.

The word Lean was coined in the early 1990s by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers. According to them, “ Lean production is aimed at the elimination of waste in every area of production including customer relations, product design, supplier networks and factory management. Its goal is to incorporate less human effort, less inventory, less time to develop products, and less space to become highly responsive to customer demand while producing top quality products in the most efficient and economical manner possible”. Lean Enterprise constitutes the entire supply chain or value stream. If an organization strives to become a Lean Enterprise it needs equal participation from all the departments (ALL TEAMS) and from all the levels including …

The Goal and Expected Benefits of Implementing Six Sigma for your IT Project

I am going to end this thread of posts with the expected targets as it relates to Six Sigma in the technology arena. Once the scope has been created, the project team has to formulate a set of attainable goals and objectives that are achievable within a finite time frame. It should also anticipate the expected benefits of the project. Will the problems reduced or eliminated? The idea is to set demanding but practical targets.

Process Measurements

The different events that will determine the effectiveness of the project are the process measurements. All the necessary measurements should be listed, but they should be within the range of the project.

The Milestone of the Project

It is important that the project goals set by the team be attained within the defined time frame. A good project leader should ensure that the team can achieve this by providing the team with the required project management resources.

The Team Members, their Roles and Deliverable's

The project team should inc…

Certified Green Belt What Does That Mean?

So I got my certification as a Six Sigma green Belt and you ask, "what does that mean"?

Overview of Green Belt

Six Sigma Green Belts are the project leaders.

A Green Belt is a primary driver of Six Sigma methodology. He is a person who is trained in Six Sigma skills to the same level as the Black Belt (black belt training is a ton more of math). Green Belts work part time on the chosen projects and undergo lesser intensive (more math)training than Black Belts. They lead a project under a Black Belt (BB). A Green Belt will apply project specific DMAIC skills. Green Belt projects are locally focused i.e. they work on smaller projects which are limited to a single department.

The methodology used by Green belts is known as DMAIC. DMAIC has five interconnected phases- Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. I went through this discussion in an earlier postings on the DMAIC subject.

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) Methodology

The DMAIC(Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology, which I discussed in an earlier postings is used when a product or a process already exists in a company. This is like an extension of the methodology that will exist in the organization, you can build on the methodology but you will implement these methodologies when a NEW process or a product (application) has to be developed.

DFSS is an acronym for Design For Six Sigma.

DFSS describes how to implement the method of using tools, training, measurements, and verification so that products and processes that are designed, meet with the demands of Six Sigma.

A more specific version of DFSS is DMADV, i.e., Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify. DMADV uses Six Sigma principles in product/process design in a new business process.

DFSS covers the DMADV framework for the design of processes; using statistical techniques, simulation software to analyze variation and risks, and performing Design of Experiments.

DMADV metho…

Database Development with Six Sigma Projects

Database Development with Six Sigma Projects

I have completed a SQL course because it is a skill I need to keep updated on and you use this skill in the Business Analyst, Quality Assurance or Project Management arenas. In Six Sigma one of the key components is that you must have a well defined and robust (I believe) system that will be required to play an extremelly integrated role in the methodology. Any action performed needs to be monitored to describe its purpose. Hence effective Six Sigma implementation requires an IT system to receive, organize and help translate this information into effective decisions for the organization.
For such a system to be active and functional, it requires an underlying IT infrastructure.

The following are some of the main roles an effective IT system would be required to play. (Kendall and Fulenwider, 2000).
Support the collection of data from the process
Provide a means for effective communication and sharing of data/information across the …

Voice of the Customer (client) and Quality Function Deployment for Six Sigma and Agile

On the projects I have been associated with the one issue that as a team we always forget is that the customer is ALWAYS right. Now I know that it is hard to say that coming from a technical development team because we are supposed to have the technological savvy and the business side does not. But sometimes as a team we develop and forget about the big picture and WHO we are developing the application for. I have learned a few good tricks from the Six Sigma certification I have received and listed two of them below. Both are very instrumental for requirements gathering and BOTH can be used in all methodologies. This is an addition from my earlier post.

Voice of Customer

Voice of the customer represents the feedback of a customer regarding a process or an organization. The Voice of the Customer plays a very important role, as it gives an insight into the success of various techniques. These techniques help an organization collect customers’ input, assess and prioritize their re…

Technologies in use for Six Sigma Projects

In an organization seeking consistency in their processes; Six Sigma plays a very important role in the promotion and establishment of such processes. REMEMBER Six Sigma works towards improvement of existing processes NOT creating NEW Processes.

But some understanding can be gained from the following:

The Six Sigma toolkit comprises of many techniques that are already applicable to some software and are directly being used by the software industry. For instance, "Voice of the Client" and "Quality Function Deployment" is useful for developing customer requirements. There are numerous charting/calculation techniques that can be used to scrutinize cost, schedule, and quality data as a project proceeds.

As far as the technical development is concerned, quantitative methods are used for risk analysis and concept/design selection. The efficacy of "Six Sigma” therefore comes from deliberately and consciously deploying the tools in such a way that the customer is ful…

Structuring the Six Sigma Function (Jobs and Titles/Team Structure)

The structure of the Six Sigma functions (Jobs and Titles/Team Structure) consists of the following individuals. All members of the team MUST buy into this methodology for the Six Sigma to be successful during the project or projects that you are associating it with. Buy in is crucial because Six Sigma can only work if the entire enterprise is on the same page, that includes Executives at the top to the Green Belts who do a lot of the heavy lifting.

The Executive Leadership is made up of the CEO and key top management team members. They are responsible for setting up a vision for implementing Six Sigma. They empower others with freedom of power and speech because they believe it will achieve splendid results.

The Quality Leader/Manager improves the operational effectiveness. He takes up the responsibility for representing the needs of the customer. To maintain impartiality, the quality function is different from the manufacturing or transactional processing functions.

The Master …

Six Sigma Phases "Control Phase"

Control Phase

The main aim of the Control Phase is to appraise the performance of the processes, to ascertain the level of success of each project, to adjust the business strategic plan, and re-start the implementation cycle.

Audit the Projects' Results

After the projects are completed, the results of the completed projects are audited by the Core Team and top management.
The improved systems have to be maintained.

Institutionalize the Improved System

Policies, procedures, operating instructions, and other management systems are modified, to institutionalize the improved system.

Apply the Incentive/Recognition System

The appropriate incentive and recognition is applied to the project team members based on the project performances.

Apply Continuous Improvement Mechanism

The organizations, strategic plans and related action plans are revised according to the project performance. Therefore the new Six Sigma projects are derived from the revised strategic plan.