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Six Sigma – A statistical approach

Six Sigma is an statistical approach. It determines whether a process is in statistical control or is stable. Statistical analysis will basically help in understanding whether the process is stable or unstable. If unstable the data analysis can also help in understanding the nature of special cause, this will in turn leads to identification of the root cause.

I am going to discuss some of the statistical and graphical tools commonly used in project improvement.

Six Sigma - Defining A Problem, Opportunity Improve & Correcting Measures:
  • Project charter – First stage in Six Sigma therefore takes place in Define phase of DMAIC. The elements of a Project Charter can vary, but they generally include the Business Case, Problem Statement, Goal Statement, Team Members/Roles, and Constraints/Boundaries, and Project Scope.
  • Deploying VOC- Voice of Customer – It includes House of Quality, Parts development, Process planning & Production planning. It is the process to understand feedback from current and future customers.
  • Value stream map – A Value Stream Map visually maps the flow of steps, delay, and information required to deliver a product or service.
Six Sigma - Analyzing processes & Performance measures:
  • Process map for recording the activities performed as part of a process.
  • Root cause analysis & Capability analysis to find uncover causes & to assess the ability of a process to meet specifications.
  • Multi-Vari chart :- It’s a tool that graphically displays patterns of variation. It is used to identify possible Xs or families of variation, such as variation within a subgroup, between subgroups, or over time.
  • Control chart tool to monitor process stability and control and Pareto chart to analyze the frequency of problems or causes.
  • Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA)  It is an important tool for risk assessment and helps prioritize the potential problem. The objective of FMEA is to look for all the ways a product or process can fail.
Six Sigma - Improving process performance -Eradicating root causes:
  • Design of experiments (DOE) to solve problems from complex processes or systems where there are many factors influencing the outcome and where it is impossible to isolate one factor or variable from the others.
  • Kaizen event to introduce rapid change by focusing on a narrow project and using the ideas and motivation of the people who do the work.
  • Control plan to document what is needed to keep an improved process at its current level.
  • Statistical process control (SPC) for monitoring process behavior.

Important Technical Tools with Description :-

The Critical to Quality (CTQ) Tree

The critical-to-quality tree is used during the design phase of DMAIC. It is used to brainstorm and validate the needs and requirements of the customer of the process, targeted for improvement.

The steps in creating a CTQ tree are as follows:

  • Identify the customer of the process targeted for improvement.
  • Identification of the need of the customer.
  • Identify the first level of requirements of the need, that is, some characteristic of the need that determines whether the customer is happy with the need.
  • Drill down to more detailed level(s) of the requirement if necessary.
The Process Map:

During the Define phase, the project team creates the first of several process maps. A process map is a picture of the current steps in the process targeted for improvement.

A process map has five major categories of work from the identification of the suppliers of the process, the inputs the suppliers provide, the name of the process, the output of the process, and the customers of the process. Each of these steps is summarized as SIPOC to indicate the steps to the team that must be conducted to complete a process map.

The Histogram:

This tool is used during the Analysis stage of DMAIC. The project team reviews data collected during the Measure stage of DMAIC.

It is often suggested that the data be organized into graphs or charts, which makes it easier to understand, what the data is saying about the process.

Data is of two types – Discrete data (fail or pass) and Continuous data ( time, height etc.).

The Pareto Chart (80:20 rule)

Histogram is useful for continuous data, same way when the data is discrete, most teams create a Pareto chart. Discrete data is counted data – go/no-go, off/on, yes/no, and defect/no defect type data.

An Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in the sixteenth century proved mathematically that 80 percent of the world’s wealth was controlled by 20 percent of the population. This 80-20 rule eventually proved applicable in arenas other than economics.

When dealing with discrete data, the project team should create reason codes for why a defect occurs, and count and categorize the data into these reason codes and a pareto chart should be prepared.

The Process Summary Worksheet

The goal of a Six Sigma project team is to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Efficiency is measured in terms of cost, time, labor, or value.

The process summary worksheet is a “roll-up” of the sub process map indicating which steps add value in the process and which steps don’t add value.

The Cause-Effect Diagram (Fishbone or Ishikawa Diagram)

The most important tool to assist the project team in determining root causation is the cause-effect diagram. This tool captures all the ideas of the project team relative to what they feel are the root causes behind the current sigma performance and finally help in finding a root cause of the problem.

The Scatter Diagram

Once ideas have been prioritized after use of the cause-effect diagram, the most important thing the project team does is to validate the remaining ideas with fact and data.

The scatter diagram takes an idea about root causation and tracks corresponding data, in the response the team is trying to improve. The team can validate an idea about root causation through one of the three methods. Using basic data collection, a designed experiment, or through the scatter diagram.

The Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram is used to help sort and categorize a large number of ideas into major themes or categories. It is especially useful when the team is ready to brainstorm solutions in the Improve stage of DMAIC. The steps in creating an affinity diagram are:

  • Have each team member write one idea per Post-it note and post on a wall randomly.
  • As ideas are read off for clarification, sort ideas into similar groups.
  • Create a ‘header’ card for each general category of ideas below it.
The Run Chart

We have discussed the histogram and Pareto chart. Think of both of these tools as similar to a camera where a snapshot of the process has been taken. But the run chart is similar to a camcorder, recording some process element over time.

The Control Chart

Similar to a run chart, a control chart uses the data from a run chart to determine the upper and lower control limits. Control limits are the expected limits of variation above and below the average of the data. These limits are mathematically calculated and indicated by dotted lines.

There are lot of other tool with which six sigma works but these are most common for every team member to be aware of and knowledgeable about.

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Five Basics of Project Management

Project Management Institute also know as (PMI) defines project management as:

The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project management.

The process of delivering and controlling a project from start to finish may be simplified into 5 basic phases:

1.       Conceptualize and Initiate Project

An idea for a project in Project Management will be carefully examined. This is to determine whether or not it benefits the organization. During this phase, a decision making team will identify if the project can realistically be completed.

– Project should benefit the organization

– Project can realistically be completed

2.       Define Planning map for a Project

A project plan, project charter and/or project scope may be put in writing, outlining the work to be performed. During this phase, a team should prioritize the project, calculate a budget and schedule. Also, determine what resources are needed.

– Product Outlining to be done for execution

– Defined Project Charter or Project Scope

3.       Lets Go – Execute the Project

Resources’ tasks are distributed and teams are informed of responsibilities. This is a good time to bring up important project related information.

– Creating WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)

– Defined Roles and Responsibility Matrix

4.       Check Project performance and apply control mechanism

Project managers will compare project status and progress to the actual plan, as resources perform the scheduled work. During this phase, project managers may need to adjust schedules or do what is necessary to keep the project on track.

– Project Progress Report

– Manage necessary changes in Project

5.       Closure of the Project

After project tasks are completed and the client has approved the outcome, an evaluation is necessary to highlight project success and learn from project history.

– Project Success Report

– Note Project Take Backs

Project Management when applied along with skills gives positive results. Some more worth reading articles:

Do share your views in comment section. or if you have more references to Project Management, feel free to post links in comment section for readers to read.. Cheers !

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Motivate Resources – Employee & Employer

A Happy Employee is the mirror of an Organization; Happy Work Force = Happy Customers   

Employee

Provide a great environment to work in and look after your employee the way you expect them to look after your customers.

Why should they be nice to customers if they are getting a raw deal at work themselves?

Below are certain ways to motivate the employees at call center, compiled, written and incorporated in this blog post consultation, real time study and some famous blog references.

Manager Feedback

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your people feel motivated and valued. Quite often a telephone call from a senior manager congratulating a team member on a ‘good week’ is equally as effective as an offer of a training course or gift voucher.

A positive attitude

It is vital that recruitment team managers realign their expectations and take into consideration the economic climate when setting targets and objectives. That being said, team leaders must encourage their staff at every step.

Keep things fresh

As obvious as it may sound, the key to motivation is to keep things fresh. Any job, however much you enjoy it, can become monotonous. This is even more true for the call center environment.

Small ‘quick fix’ prizes

Monthly bonuses and incentive schemes are always useful, but what will keep them motivated throughout the month is the small ‘quick fix’ stuff, the here and now, if you like. The little prizes they can take away with them as soon as they win them.

Training is always good, it keeps people up to date and focused on the job

Regular, effective and relevant training is massively important and a great motivator. Training is always good, it keeps people up to date and focused on the job at hand, and it will show them that management are concerned with how well they do their job. If they are given good quality training that covers the topics and issues they are faced with then they will respond and to a certain extent motivate themselves to stick with what they learn.

We all like to be rewarded or praised for doing it well

A good reward scheme is a great motivator, especially if your team are conducting outbound calls. Human nature is that no matter what job we do we all like to be rewarded or praised for doing it well.

What you have to do is have more than one activity running at any given point in time – immediate, daily, weekly, monthly – the key is to run an activity that suits all members of the team. Basically, the thing that might motivate the top performer won’t necessarily work with an average performer and vice-versa. So if you have different options then you should be able to give all of them something to aim for.

Rewards that come at the end of the period are too late to produce ongoing change. “Well done” at the end of the week has a short-term impact. Sustained change in behavior comes when agents are told right through their shift, every minute of the day. When they see the positive and immediate consequences of what they do, they do it even better and faster.

Motivation and reward schemes need to have a high satisfaction level and appeal. We are finding more and more that staff want rewards that they can share with their family and that give them a sense of well-being

A team huddle at the start of the shift

A bit of fun can go a long way towards motivating staff and helps to energize. At the start of shifts a quick ‘huddle’, not only to pass on bits of key information but to also share a topical joke or ‘vote’ on a true/false, can really wake people up! Far more effective than email bulletins that are rarely read!

Listening to your team

We have found that the simple yet very effective “secret” to motivating a call center team effectively comes through how one views motivation. We run with the premise that it is impossible to impose motivation upon people, you need to create an environment within which they can motivate themselves. This environment comes through really listening to your team, and understanding the call center from their perspective. You do not need to agree with everything they are thinking but you do need to understand why they feel this way. Understand what problems/worries they are encountering, what opportunities they see, what is important to them.

The best way to motivate call center staff is to ask for their direct input. A key area for consultation is the re-evaluation of the area where agents spend all of their time: the desktop. Agents frequently cite dissatisfaction with systems as being a major source of low morale.

Be careful promoting people into management roles – A Black-hole Situation

One of the most common mistakes is moving consistent. Well-performing call center staff promoted into management roles and away from the front line of customer service. Often when these top performers are being promoted to managing others, they are replaced by less talented individuals. Think on this critical aspect and you may want to reconsider your decisions a bit. Hiring of correct staff is one of solutions of this Black-hole situation.

This is very important to remove one sided favor to employees. This can be eliminated by identifying and checking the managers.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

An annual employee satisfaction survey won’t even cost anything. To find out what makes staff ‘tick’ on an ongoing basis you need to measure employee attitude at ‘key moments of truth’ for each employee. The best way to do this is to use employee feedback software which can provide a regular opportunity for employees to ‘air their thoughts’ in a non-confrontational way. And to provide that information to team leaders so that they always have an up-to-date picture about how an employee feels

Regular review sessions

In every role people want to develop their skills to help them progress. All members of the team should have regular review sessions which help staff and employers to identify both areas of strength and skills gaps. At the end of each of these sessions, targets are set for the employee to work towards, helping them develop in their career.

Encourage staff to dress smartly

Even though customers rarely come face to face with call center staff, it is important for them to act and look professional at all times.Putting on smart clothes for work puts you in a professional mindset. This develops personality which can also boost your business confidence and motivation.

Introduce colour in the work space

Inspire your staff to work hard and strive for success. Call center can be bland, so you can create a more vibrant atmosphere by introducing colour in the work space, using motivational images and pictures to brighten the area. These little, low-cost improvements can make a significant impact on your workforce.

Sometimes the simplest of changes can make a significant impact on employees’ working culture and attitude.