If you remember in the previous post we made a brief introduction to the DMAIC cycle as a tool to improve processes. D. Define; M. Measure; A. Analyse; I. Improve and C. Control
In this blog post we will talk about the DEFINE stage.
“The best way to face an improvement of a process is to think about how to “break” it and transform it into a more efficient process”
The first stage of any project is a perfect definition of the process to improve. If we choose the processes to be improved vaguely or imprecisely, the result will not be good.
We often fail to see the importance that this stage has and we think that to define is to just state what we want to do in a document.
It is at this stage where we must sharpen our pencil and define in a very precise way the goals to be reached as a team, analysing the technical viability of the project, an estimate of the resources necessary and their cost.
Definition of the improvement project:
- Define who the external and internal Customers are.
- Determine what their needs are.
- Translate those needs to specific features of our product or service.
- Prioritise those features in order of importance (CQF are the critical Quality features).
- Determine the process responsible for those features.
- Delimit the part of the process that will be analysed.
Once these six points have been defined in detail, we must represent the process, draw it graphically observing the following rules:
- Represent the process as it is
- Do not leave out details, representing all the possible paths that the process can follow, “travel with the product” until the CQFs appear.
- Show the process inputs and outputs and the order of the intermediate steps
We must bear in mind that a good visual and detailed representation of the process will help us a lot to now identify Quick wins.
If at this stage we manage to define and identify the elements that we have explained, we will have advanced greatly in the improvement process.
From our point of view, this is the most important STAGE to be able to approach an improvement.
At the IKOR Group, with this methodology we have approached such important processes as the Introduction of New Products and their industrialisation, and a good definition allowed us to successfully approach the subsequent stages, obtaining important benefits and improvements in a short period of time.
In future articles I will explain the next stage -MEASURE- and how to approach it to have guaranteed success in the improvement of a production process.