Improvement is All About Design

August 16th, 2016

Tags: Design for Six Sigma, Quality Function Deployment, Scrum Agile, Development Process, Product Development, Process Development

Reduce cost. Eliminate waste. Increase quality and productivity. Isn’t that what all companies want? Effort is expended daily, weekly, and monthly. Why is it so hard?

The original design of the product, service, or process dictates the floor for cost and the ceiling for quality and productivity. The race to be the first to market with the new product or the service is often the limiting factor. Get that new process up and running as fast as possible is stubbing our toes. Why is this so common? Is it because we never have enough time to do it right? Where did we magically get the time to fix it when it doesn’t come out right? So, if we make mistakes and have failures we have time to take corrective action. Just where did this time come from? I thought we didn’t have enough time.

It's all about the design. All the answers are in the design. Failures can be designed out of the product, service, or process during the design process. The development process and how it is managed has everything to do with assuring lowest cost and highest quality and productivity. Doing it right the first time through the development process so there is no need for re-design and corrective actions after launch doesn’t take additional time. How could this be? We never have enough time.

The development process can follow the Traditional so called Waterfall or the Scrum driven Agile process and attain equally good or poor results. The key is in requirements definition which includes the producer, the customer, and the suppliers. I can hear you now questioning, “Why Suppliers?” If both parties, producer and supplier can’t share requirements then rapid, efficient, and high quality supply chain results are nearly impossible to achieve. Requirements are not just specification characteristics. Requirements include the functional aspects of the product, service, or process as well. Just what is it that must be achieved? Functions must be defined.

Specification characteristics and functions drive the design. Our creativity comes into play with how we ultimately choose to meet the functions and that is where cost, quality, and productivity are defined. Functions are aligned with specification characteristics which drive their priority. The prioritized functions then drive the components and systems of the design which in turn are prioritized. The prioritized components and systems then drive the processes and supporting information technology which in turn dictates the supporting organization and the skills required from the human component. Quality Function Deployment is the tool for pulling this all together.

The development process to use that can be managed with either scrum or waterfall is the Design for Six Sigma, DMADV process. The five phased DMADV approach, namely Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Validate needs further explanation. The Define Phase is the Development Project Definition. The Measure Phase is Requirements Definition. The Analyze Phase is better described as the Conceptual Design. The Design Phase is Detailed Design. The Validate Phase is final testing and debugging of support systems, validation of performance metrics, and implementation on a full scale.

You can reduce cost, eliminate waste, and increase both quality and productivity with your design. This is where improvement begins. Watch a short video here.

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