Leading Six Sigma

The Pyzdek Institute Project Charter – A forgotten but an extremely important tool

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Why create a charter it seems just like busy work? I mean the boss wants this done NOW why waste the time on creating a charter? Good questions, but I can guarantee you a charter is NOT a waste of your time, nor the bosses time either. Do you remember the school yard game where you would line up and tell the person next to you something and have them pass it on. What was said at the end of the line? Was it ever the same thing? I’d say NO. Why is that? Because as much as we think we state things clearly the receiver never gets it exactly like what we said. I see this all the time in training and working in teams. We are such a diverse group of people that our individual picture of what is said gets mixed with what we know and that changes the thought.

So we write a charter to capture the “true” reason we are doing the project. It is the best way to capture and pass on what you are doing. With out it your team may get lost very quickly as the direction at the beginning is slightly different in everyone’s mind.

The charter is more than a simple statement of the project objective. It hold a lot of information so everyone gets the same “picture” of what we are doing. Some things in a charter may seem redundant but they are not. They are stating the approach to the issue in a slightly different way so other will get the complete picture of what is happening. You will find that you will come back to the charter time and again to bring the team back on task for what they were brought together to accomplish. So lets look at what should be in your charter.

The Header Block

  • Project Name
  • Black/ Green Belt Name & Telephone Number – Who will be the project Lead and their phone number
  • Sponsor Name – Who will be the project Sponsor

Note: A sponsor is ALWAYS needed. The Sponsor will be a top level manager that the project will impact and help the most . This Sponsor will help remove road blocks as the team encounters them. Plus the Sponsor will be the main conduit to top management that will need to support this project as well.

  • The Project Start and Target Completion Date. Management will not support a project that they do not have some time frame to complete.
  • Projected Annual Savings – All Six Sigma Project need to return savings back to the company. Top Management talks in big dollars so to get their support this had better be big dollars.
  • Type of Savings –  There are basically two types of savings Hard savings and cost avoidance.
    • Hard Savings – This is savings that impact the “bottom line.” This means that at the end of this project someone, the sponsor most likely, will be reducing his/her budget to show a hard decrease in spending by the company.
    • Cost Avoidance – This is a savings that may not impact the bottom line as it is a savings that avoids an expense that is causing, in many cases, a department to overrun their budget. This is things like scrap and rework.

The Project Detail Block

  •  Opportunity Statement (Current State) – Here we need to describe the problem as briefly as we can but with enough detail that everyone understands it.
  • The Project objective (Future State) – I like to call this a vision statement of the future state of the process. Many times this makes it easier for others to “picture” what it will look like when the project is complete. It should be specific, measurable and attainable within the time frame of the project.
  • Business Case – This statement needs to tie this opportunity to the company goals and objective and defines why we need to do it NOW. In other words it is a statement showing us the  “burning platform” or real need to do it now.

The Metrics for DPMO Calculations Block

  •  Opportunity Definition – Above we gave a brief description of the opportunity. Here we provide some details as to where an error could be made or a defect could be created. For example an employee filling a form, or the manufacturing of a part or feature, or an interaction with a customer.
  • Defect Definition – In this area we describe what is an unacceptable condition for the opportunity mentioned above and describe the value for the metric? For example: a form returned  for missing or incorrect information, a defect in a part or feature, or a customer placed on hold for over ten minutes.
  •  Metrics – The metric is one or more measurements of the defect described above. This may seem hard to define right now but believe me when I say management when they saw this problem it was not a touchy feely thing it had hard number associated to it. Numbers they want to see changes in. It could be dollars, volume, time, or number of customers but there are numbers that are the metrics YOU need to improve. Sometimes even management does not quite know what they are but it is your job to ask why they think they see this as an issue and find the metric!
    •  Before Project – Here list a value for the metric that is what Management/Sponsor/Team thinks it is today. Later in the measure phase we will actually measure these and get them exact.
    • After Project – Here list a value for the metric that is what Management/Sponsor/Team expect you to achieve. In the Improve phase we will report on how well we did in meeting this metric and goal.

Project Scope Block

The best way I can describe this is when looking at the process you are trying to improve. What steps of that process will be looked at in this project. This will help you keep the project focus and not have what I call scope creep due to not know what areas of the company this project will cover. It also should be noted that you need to make sure the scope is not to big ( you can not solve world hungry, you may be able to only solve hungry in your neighborhood).

  • First Process Step (Start) –  This is the very first step of the business process that you are trying to improve. This IS NOT the first step of the DMAIC process.
  • Last Process Step (Stop) – This is the very last step of the business process that you are trying to improve. This IS NOT the last step of the DMAIC process.
 Potential Adverse Impacts – Here we have to think about what impacts to the process this project might have besides the listed metrics. Plus what other process might be impacted by the improvements to this process. For instance there may be in the process several things that it does good and we do not what the project to make them worse. Also Improving one process may in fact make another one worse.
  • Besides identifying them you will want to explain how you will monitor them to insure no impact.

Milestones and Expected Dates Block

The Milestones are the all the basic steps to completing a project including the five phase DMAIC process. I know you have the project Start and estimated completion dates above, but you will need an estimated completion time for each of the five step of DMAIC. These will be milestones to you and management on how well the project is moving. It is better to make adjustment as you go then to find you are way behind and over budget near the end of the project.

  •  Core Team Member Block
  • Core Team Members – list here the member of the project team. Include their phone number so everyone will knopw how to contact each other.
  • DACI – Here you will define the DACI roles they will

Well there you have the basic components of the Pyzdek Institutes six sigma project charter. At least from my prospective. If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them below or you can contact me.


Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt


Scatter Plots for Visualization of Relationships.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Scatter plots are one of the Seven Basic QC Tools. They are a graph showing you the relationship between two factors or variables. It can show you if one variable effects another. This can be a very effective tool to find out if you change one thing in a process will it affect another. To see if there is a cause and effect relationship between two factors or variables.

Creating a Scatter Plot:

To create a scatter plot you follow the below steps:

  1. First you need to collect data. This data is called paired data because it will be values from both factors gathered so you can compare one with the other. You can and should collect this paired data with other information (data) that potentially could help understand what is going on.
  2. Next you need to determine which factor you want on the horizontal axis (x) and which to put on the vertical axis (y). This is your choice, but many put the potential cause on the horizontal axis (x) and the effect on the vertical (y) axis.
  3. After you have decided which goes on which axis you need to find the minimum and maximum value of each factor. These will be used to define the each axis scale.
  4. Now we setup the Vertical (y) and Horizontal (x) axis. Both should be the same length but necessarily the same scale. These axis will make the plot (graph) look like square fit the two are the same length.
  5. Mark are each axis scale by starting with the minimum value in the lower left corner for both and the maximum value at the other end. Make sure to divide and label the rest of the axis into equal segments so you will be able to easily plot your data.
  6. Now we plot all of the x, y paired data on the graph. Do this by finding the x value on the horizontal axis and plotting a point above that value that corresponds to the y value on the vertical axis. You continue doing that until all the points are plotted.
  7. Last, but never least, label your graph with a title and a label for the vertical and horizontal axis so everyone who looks at it will be able to under stand what they see.

Interpreting a Scatter Plot:

Now that we have a scatter plot how do we interpret what we see? Is there a relationship or not? Well how we do that is look for patterns. But first, are there any outliers? These are data point that are way out side the pattern of dots that you have plotted. What these point are cause from something other than the relationship of these two variables. Note them and if you can find out what happen that created them. Now let’s look for the patterns.

  • When seeing patterns remember that the tighter together the points are clustered, the stronger the correlation (the effect) between the variables (factors) you have plotted.
  • If you find a pattern that slopes from the lower left to the upper right. This tells you that as x (horizontal axis factor/variable) increases so does the  y (vertical axis factor/variable) increases. This means there is a “Positive” correlation between the two factors/variables.
  • If you find a pattern that slopes from the upper left to the lower right. This tells you that as x (horizontal axis factor/variable) increases, the  y (vertical axis factor/variable) decreases. This means there is a “Negative” correlation between the two factors/variables.

Below is a table of pattern to help you interpret your results:


Correlation and Causation

Now that you see a pattern and you have found or not found a correlation between the two factors or variables, please do not assume that one caused the other to happen. That may or may not be true. You see you may very well find a correlation between the number of people using public swimming pools and the number of cooler that break down, but I do not think one caused the other. What you have to do to verify the cause is to conduct a controlled experiment and see if I hold everything else steady will the change in one make the other change as predicted in the scatter plot.


But even though you do not have the cause true verified you now see that something is going on and that there is a good chance that one of these factor does effect the other.

Well there you have it. All you need to know about scatter plots. Or at least the basics on how to construct and interpret them. If, you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, emailing me, calling me, or leaving a comment on my website.

Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt

On the Charts: A Conversation with David Laney – Minitab

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011



On the Charts: A Conversation with David Laney – Minitab.


This is an excellent discussion on the new P’ and U’ control charts. Not just new but also improved!

Four U.S. Organizations Honored with the 2011 Baldrige National Quality Award

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

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via Four U.S. Organizations Honored with the 2011 Baldrige National Quality Award.

Do Customers Know What They Really Want?

Friday, August 19th, 2011

In an earlier article, “Creating Customer Value” I explained that to insure you are creating customer value at any given step or your process you need to ask and answer three questions with a yes. They are:

  1. Did the thing in the process change?
  2. Does the customer care about this change?
  3. Was it done right the first time?


Well in those three questions is one from the customers view point “Does the customer care about this change?” Many time we do not really understand or see this view (customer cares about) clearly. We might say for them to care about something that they must understand what they want. Well let try to set the record straight on this one.

First, I’d like to start with my definition of customer value (Want):

Customer value is a product or service that is received by the customer at the right time, place, cost and functions AS DEFINED BY THE CUSTOMER.

It should be noted that time, place, and cost are all parts of your delivery process (which we try to streamline) and only function addresses the actual product or service once in hand of the customer. In the titles question many times we only focus on this “function” but if we do, we miss three other major parts of customer value and may loose the customer because of that narrow sightedness. So DO NOT FORGET the other parts of customer value.

But now let’s talk about this “function” in terms of what the customer wants. I have had discussions with some colleagues that will hold fast; that the customer DOES NOT always know what they want. And, I can not fault them on it when it come to the exact details of what they want. A good example I was given was my colleague said his wife’s birthday was coming up and he had no idea what to get her. I believe him, I have the same problem but some how he and I both get something they like. How does that happen? I think it because we don’t know the details but we do have some more global thoughts (even if they are what NOT to get her). So in reality we do have some, even though vague, ideas of what to get. And those thought will lead us to some places that we think we can find that present.

For instance, my wife love to help in the remodeling of the house, but it will not be “my friendly hardware store” that I will go to purchase her present. No I’ll, and so might my colleagues, go to stores that my wife goes and buys things for herself. I do know what she likes and dislikes as I see what she purchases at these stores. Plus with a little help, I hope, for the store personnel, I can find something that will be just the right thing. It usually works well.

So does the customer always know what they want? I say a BIG YES!! Maybe not the details. But if I walk into your place a business there was a reason and your sales persons will need to understand that and work with me to fill in the details or I will probably go somewhere where I will find the help.

Well there you have it. Customers do know what they want even if it is some what vague. So I hope you are listening when they show up. There are other articles on Customer value that you can find on my blog http://www.sixsigmatrainingconsulting.com/knowledgebase/ . As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.


Bersbach Consulting

Peter Bersbach

Six Sigma Master Black Belt





The Ever Changing Voice of the Customer

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In Six Sigma, we are very focused on the Voice of the Customer and creating Value for the customer. But getting our arms around this thing value is not real easy. In fact, I believe that it is this constant changing of what is of value that keeps all Quality folks employed. You see, over time, customers change and what they think is of value changes as well.

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to send someone a message most of the time you would mail them a letter. If it was really important, you could fax or telegram them. But today we have Email, Twitter, and Face book. I am not sure anyone really writes letter today. So here, you see a change in what is of value to “customer” (at least customers of the post office). In today’s market, the Post office continues to raise rates to cover costs. There is a think called the Kano Model that explains this very well.

The Kano Model:

The Kano model is a chart with that has two axis and three levels of quality or characteristics.

The two axis are Customer Satisfaction (this is their perception of satisfaction) and Customer Expectation (this is the reality of how well the expectation was met [usually in a percentage]). Some have labeled Customer Satisfaction as Quality.

Customer Satisfaction – This axis runs vertical with the top end of the axis (scale) being extremely satisfied and the bottom of the axis being extremely dissatisfied.

Customer Expectation – This axis runs horizontal with the left end of the axis (scale) being 0% expectations met and the right end of the axis being 100% of the expectations being met.

Note: the two axis cross dead center of each line.

The three levels of quality or characteristics are Must (Basic Quality), Wants (Expected Quality) and WOW (Exciting Quality)

Must (Basic Quality; Dissatisfiers) – These are characteristics do not sale a product but the customer assumes they are there. These are things like brakes, windows and tires on a car. Customers expect them to be there and will walk if they are not. But they are not on the list of things (specifications) customer walk in looking for in a product. You will note that in the Kano Model (fig. 1 below) the MUST curve lies totally below the Customer Expectation axis line representing dissatisfaction. This means providing must characteristics alone will not satisfy the customer.

Wants (Expected Quality; Satisfiers) – These characteristics are what the customer wants to see. Here the customer has come in specifically looking for these. With items that are more complex the customer has a list, specification, or drawing that includes all of these characteristics. Examples of these are a particular color, and multi-year warranty, or a short wait time. Customer usually will use these to decide to buy or not. In the Kano Model, these characteristics (Wants) are a straight line. Where it shows the customer is dissatisfied if there Wants are not met. But their satisfaction increases as more of these characteristics are met.

WOW (Exciting Quality; Delighters) – These characteristics are sale the product if all the others are met. These are characteristics that are above and beyond the customers expectations. Here the customer receives more than they expected. Examples of these characteristics are: collision avoidance systems, life time warranties, and free upgrades for life.  In the Kano Model, the curve for the WOW characteristics is completed above the customer expectation axis.


Figure 1: Kano Model

You will notice another line in this model in the upper right hand corner labeled “Competitive Push”.  This is what represents the “ever changing customer voice”.  You see things that WOW, delight and are unexpected today will be wanted and expected tomorrow (in the near future) and become must have and basic requirements further into the future. Things never stand still. Having a Desktop Computer instead of a mainframe terminal was a WOW in the eighties. In the nineties Desktops were wanted/expected and the Laptop was a WOW. Now Desktops are Musts with Laptops a Want and the IPAD the WOW. Who no’s what is next, but I can bet someone is coming up with that next WOW that will push the Desktop off the chart just like the wire dialup phone and the pay phone booth.

This model gives us an idea of how customer’s expectation (value) is constantly changing. One they see something they like most likely someone will make it affordable for that customer and soon. Who know some day we will all have a spacecraft in our garages and there will no longer be a need for streets. What a confusing airspace we will have. Oh well expectations will keep changing and those in the quality profession will constantly be watching for those shifts in customer expectations.

Well there you have my thoughts on the ever changing voice of the customer and the Kano Model. I hope this helps you with your projects’ focus on customer value and where it might have moved.

Oh, think what would happen if where you worked moved its product focus to a different industry, group or customer set. What happens to the model now?? Most likely, all the characteristics would still exist, but the customers expectation of each may change dramatically. Wow’s, What’s and Must’s could be totally reshuffled.

If, you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, emailing me, calling me, or leaving a comment on my website.

Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt


Calculating the Correct Net Present Value using Excel

Monday, June 20th, 2011

In Six Sigma we are always wanting to be able to show a return on investment to management. Most of the time in Dollars. To do that we need to consider both the cost and the benefits the project will obtain. But costs and benefits do not happen in one lump sum. Usually they fluctuate over time. This is referred to as a cash flow or a cash flow stream. The best tool to look at both the cost and benefits to see what the return would be is calculation what is called “Net Present Value” (NPV).

Definition of Net Present Value (NPV): The difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows. NPV is used in budgeting to analyze the profitability of an investment or project[1].

In Excel there is a function [NPV(rate,value1,value2, …)] to calculate NPV, but this formula can be misleading if you do not understand what it is doing. The function help on this function explains it all be rarely do we read these unless we really don’t know what goes where. In this functions case most people need to read it. In the above formula the rate is applied to every value listed. That is OK but in many projects the first value is costs/benefits obtained before the end of the first year (or period of the rate) so the rate should not be applied. That why in many projects we list the first year as “year 0”. These cost/benefits should be added to the above formula thus eliminating the rate from being applied.

Example: Lets say you have a project that will cost you $10,000 this year and $2000 next year to implement, but next year you will see a benefit of $500 and the year after that 5,000, Then in the third year $10,000 benefit and in the last two years $15,000 each year in benefits. Lets also say management want to see a rate of return of 10% over a five year period. You want to know if you can meet that with these figures. Below is the table in Excel I would create to show these figures and calculate the NPV.

You can see that the formula calculating NPV has year 0 being added to the formula so the interest rate is not applied to calculating the present value of it this year (year 0 is the present). But year 1-5 we did have the rate applied as we what to make sure that the expected rate of return is met by year five. This show we have meet managements expectations because it is a positive number.

The reason for doing this is because not all investments have cost/benefits in year 0. Take for instance the purchase of a new piece of equipment that the purchase price is not paid for 12 months. In this case year 0 maybe to delivery and setup of the machine which is included in the cost of $12000. Let say on this example we have the same benefits and expected return. Here is the table and calculations for this one:

You can see that this can be big if you do it wrong, so make sure that you apply this formula correctly. In most, not all, Six Sigma projects you will use the first way. But if you make sure to include always a year 0 and put it in the formula even the lower table will be correct using “=NPV(D2,D4;D8) + D3”.

Well there you have what to look out for in using the NPV formula in Excel. If you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, emailing me, calling me, or leaving a comment on my website.


Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt


[1] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/npv.asp#axzz1PrAMAMip


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Philip R. Wahl

Product Assurance Engineer II

Peter L. Bersbach

Sr. Product Assurance Engineer

Hughes Aircraft Company

PO Box 92426

Los Angeles, CA 90009


This paper is the continuation of “QFD on a Defense Contract.”[1] This installment will examine the application of Total Quality Management (TQM) to the later stages of a project. Statistical Process Control (SPC) and how Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Design Of Experiments (DOE) help implement SPC will be looked at closely. The goal of the project is to develop a factory to build high-rate, low-cost microwave hybrids for the aerospace, automotive, and defense industry .QFD helped get the project off the ground; now other TQM tools are being used to help win the follow-on contract.

Implementing a successful SPC program on the production floor requires many TQM tools. The process includes three basic steps: (1) setting the foundation, (2) establishing controls, and (3) making sure that these controls meet our needs and our customer’s needs.

Step 1 talks about the use of QFD and DOE to def111e the best manufacturing approach, select the best equipment, and f111gerprint that equipment so pre-controls can be put on each process. Supplier networking is established to start a process that will work toward fewer and better sources for the factory.

Step 2 discusses how to go from pre-control to full fledged control charts. We will also cover the need to establish Process Action Teams, Process Control Logs, Out of Control Condition Procedures, and risk assessments.

Step 3 looks at ensuring that the controls in place meet our needs and the needs of our customer. During this step, we will discuss the use of process capabilities and Process Action Teams to monitor and improve the process.

This paper also covers supplier relations and the application of TQM in that area. We develop partnerships with vendors through the GM Targets for Excellence system. This system provides a method for continuous improvement at the vendor level so all can benefit.

Finally, this paper will cover the results of our efforts. We will look not only at the good things, but also at the obstacles and lessons learned. The ability to carry TQM throughout the life of a program will be discussed along with the difficulty communicating across disciplines.


The boardroom was thick with tension and anticipation. The only light came from the view graph projector with its squeaky, annoying blower. It was all on the line and everyone knew it! It was the last customer review of our product. It was the last chance we had before the customer decided if we would get additional funding for the next phase. We had worked long and hard to satisfy the customer and guarantee additional funding, but would it all pay off?

This was the setting in June 1990, the last customer review for the T/R Module ManTech Program, the purpose of which was to develop a factory to build high-rate, low-cost microwave hybrids for the aerospace and defense industry .The program was introduced last year with a paper entitled, “QFD on a Defense Contract.” It explained how we applied QFD in the early stages of a contract, when it was still in its infancy. This paper covers how we are applying TQM in the stages beyond the June 1990 review. The focus is on our SPC implementation plan and how other tools, such as QFD and DOE, helped shape and form it. We did receive the go-ahead for phase 3 (the next phase of the contract) and are still aggressively applying TQM. The implementation of our SPC plan is in progress.



The application of TQM to this program began early on with QFD. When the primary goals and objectives were set, they were definitely revolutionary. The desire was to go from a production rate of 100 per day to 1000 per day and from $3000 each to $200 each. We used QFD to identify key product characteristics that would help meet the goals and satisfy the customer. The time spent on our initial QFD chart was well worth it (see Fig. 1).1 Not only were key product characteristics identified, but team unity and spirit were created. The chart emphasized four key areas: yield, rate, module cost, and process capability. The TQM team used these four areas to progress through a functional tree diagram into ten more QFDs (see Fig. 2). Throughout this stage, both internal and external customers were actively and enthusiastically involved. Management support for all our TQM efforts has also been very strong. There is no doubt that this has been a primary contributor to the success of the program.

SPC Plan

The implementation of SPC incorporates two main goals of our TQM system: variability reduction and continuous measurable improvement (cmi). SPC, including process capability analysis, is implemented in three steps: Pre-implementation, Initial Implementation, and Implementation Verification. Each of these steps has distinctive tasks to be covered in greater detail. An important pan of the SPC plan is that the “owners” of the processes are fully involved in designing and implementing it. The owners are those people who actually use and work with the process. For example, testing our product is a process where SPC will be applied. The test technicians are the owners. When the portion of the SPC plan that applies to test was developed, these people became pan of the team tasked with SPC implementation. This approach allows people to feel that it is their plan, which greatly enhances participation and overall compliance. QFD and DOE also play a vital role in the plan. The owners are involved in using QFD to review customer needs and select the best manufacturing approach and equipment DOE is used, if needed, to aid in that selection or help optimize other processes. The idea is to flow customer demands from the first QFD chart down to the manufacturing floor. This ensures that effort is spent on the areas that have the greatest potential for achieving customer satisfaction. Another important element of the plan is supplier review. Our program has adopted a vendor networking system from General Motors called Targets for Excellence (TFE). This vendor networking system strives to create partnerships between the supplier and customer. The process owners are the customers of the materials supplied to them. It makes sense that they have a partnership with those supplying the materials.

Step 1: Pre-implementation

Pre-implementation is essentially a period during which a detailed review of existing data takes place. This data will include all QFD matrices built on assembly processes, data from similar processes, and vendor capabilities. SPC training is conducted during pre-implementation for those who require it. Also during pre-implementation, preliminary data, analysis is performed to determine process capability, process parameters, and product characteristic correlation and distribution structure. Initial candidates for SPC are determined from this data.

Engineers participating in activities requiring SPC receive basic training in interpretation and development of control charts and other statistical tools, such as Pareto analysis and histograms. Operators and inspectors working on the program receive basic skills training applicable to SPC. The intent is to have the owners of the process collect and use the data on a real-time basis so that they can take immediate action to correct trends before the process produces an unacceptable product. This approach is effective, but requires a higher level of SPC awareness by those involved. That is why training is so important

Initial candidates for SPC will be examined and classified as critical, major, or minor characteristics. Minor characteristics will be addressed only after all critical and major characteristics have been reviewed. It is anticipated that controls will be placed on process parameters rather than product variables where appropriate data shows that process parameters correlate with product characteristics. Two events need to take place before, or at least during the same time as the selection of these characteristics: (1) selection of the manufacturing approach and (2) definition of the processing equipment needed to attain that approach. QFD and DOE are used heavily during the selection of the manufacturing approach and equipment

When the manufacturing approach is selected, a review o all QFD matrices ensures that the s of the customer flow throughout the program and into the SPC plan. As customer needs pertinent to the approach emerge, additional QFD charts may be needed to compare customer needs with available approaches. The result is an approach that best satisfies customer needs. This type of chart, called a concept selection matrix, is used quite often. Existing processes to be used again are reviewed QFD style to identify weaknesses. When an acceptable approach is hard to find, further study is undertaken through experimental designs. These DOEs are directed toward the development of a process that meets customer needs. Supplier networking, the purpose of which is to determine capabilities and recommend techniques, begins during step 1, Pre-implementation, through the TFE process.

When equipment needs are to be defined and individual pieces selected for installation, QFD will again be used. A matrix of customer needs and different pieces of equipment available will be constructed for each segment of the process. This approach determines the best equipment for the job. When information on equipment capabilities is not available, but the equipment supplier is willing to work with us to determine this information, experimental designs and capability studies are performed to obtain the desired information, Working together makes both equipment and materials vendor’s partners in the overall success of the program. These partnerships will ensure that our vendors’ perspectives are considered in the overall plan.

Once equipment is defined and purchased, the real use of DOE begins. Up to this point, mainly subjective information and a minimum amount of general data is used to relate product performance to process or equipment parameters. After production, equipment is purchased and is in the factory, DOEs and capability studies are performed to determine the exact relationship between critical product characteristics and process parameters. This relationship is identified as the “fingerprint” of the equipment. The fingerprint also identifies the process parameter target values, the process variability around that value, and the ability of the process to produce an acceptable product Once fingerprinting is complete the initial candidates for SPC can be determined.

Near the end of step 1 all available manufacturing/assembly data, including data obtained from the selection of the approach and equipment and from the fingerprinting of that equipment, is reviewed and, if necessary, further analyzed. This review leads to the determination of initial SPC candidates. The analysis will include a first refinement of the process capability, process parameter, and product characteristic correlations and distribution structure. The goal is to meet customer needs and maintain a capable process. This data will also be analyzed to determine the feasibility of using techniques such as highly repeatable tooling and tooling as a media of inspection.

Preliminary control charts are designed to collect variables data where applicable. These preliminary, or pre-control, charts for variables data have upper and lower pre-control limits based on the product feature tolerance zones or its relationship to the process parameter being controlled. The initial pre-control limits are 77.1 % of the process or product specification limits. Pre-control limits of 77.1 % require process improvement during early SPC program steps to create a process that, in the long nun, produces a product with a defect rate of less than 100 parts per million (ppm).Pre-control chart limits for attributes data are based on historic data of similar assembly operations or based on a targeted process Acceptability Quality Level (AQL). Initial pre-control limits may, therefore, be based on attainable limits of mature existing processes (with a learning curve correction, if applicable) or on an AQL, if no acceptable similar process exists.

The use of QFD, DOE and a supplier networking program are emphasized. Our goal is to develop an SPC plan that incorporates all these tools. A simple check sheet has been developed (see Fig. 3) to track and monitor our efforts toward the use of these tools as they apply to our SPC plan. The SPC coordinator uses the check sheet to track and record progress. He is the SPC focal point and also provides SPC expertise and training.


T/R ManTech SPC Implementation Status

Step I: Pre-Implementation

Figure 3

Sample Check Sheet for Tracking SPC Progress

Ste 2: Initial Implementation

Step 2 is the early implementation period where initial process data is collected from production pans and analyzed to determine the true process capabilities and levels of control required by each process step. The duration of this step is determined by the time required to manufacture/assemble the rust 100 production units. The responsibility for performing measurements and plotting the data resides with the operator when practical, or with the inspector when inspection equipment limitations, machine cycle time, or some other requirements indicate a need for other than operator measurement. If special tooling, gages, or equipment is needed to ensure that the process is both stable and capable, the process engineer obtains that equipment at this time.

In the case of operator measurements of variables data, periodic random audits of pan measurements done by operators are performed by inspection. Parts measured by an operator, used to determine the most recent control chart point, are retained for audit or until a new control chart sample is taken. In the case of operator identification of attributes data, the most recent unit produced is identified so that audit/verification may be performed by inspection during random periodic audits.

For each process a Process Action Team (PAT) and SPC Log (SPCL) is established. Each PAT is responsible for its own process. The PAT is made up of operators, inspectors, and appropriate manufacturing, process, and quality engineers. It is their responsibility to monitor the process for out-of-control (OOC) conditions. If an OOC condition develops, the process is shut down, supervision notified, and the condition documented in the SPCL by the operator. Corrective action, as approved by the PAT, must be initiated and documented in the SPCL before the process is started up again. All corrective action must be verified as effective. This is done by increasing inspection to as much as 100%. Repetitive or ineffective corrective actions, as evidenced by continuing OOC conditions are referred to the Operations Team. The OT is the governing body in all plant operations.

Two main goals or our TQM system:

Variability reduction and continuous measurable improvement

The capability indices of each process are recalculated and recorded in the SPCL periodically by the responsible engineer. If the indices have shifted significantly in either direction without justification, the engineer convenes a meeting of the PAT .The team then investigates the cause of the shift.

Once the cause of the shift has been determined, the process is adjusted to have the best (largest) capability indices, and a report on the cause is written to the applicable OT. The capability indices recorded in the SPCL are subject to audits by the quality organization to ensure that shifts have been addressed. Any shifts not appropriately addressed are referred to the applicable OT.

Step 3: Implementation

Step 3 is a further data collection period during which enough data is generated by the processes to permit the computation of statistically valid process control limits. During step 2 only 100 units are produced as the new factory is demonstrated. In step 3, medium production rates of up to 1000 per day are reached. This increased production rate allows for the full implementation of valid SPC.

Many of the elements of step 2 carry over to step .3. The responsibility for performing the measurements and plotting data for the SPC charts remains the same. The PATs also remain intact and retain responsibilities as outlined in step 2. The PATs also maintain a history of the data used to derive all process capability indices, all original control chart parameters, and all parametric changes made to the control charts. A history of the actual control charts is maintained, which is the basic data used to compute the control chart plot points as well as the SPCL. The continuing goal of the PATs is to reduce process variability and improve process performance.

During step 3, the control chart type by specific operation will be determined by production volumes and data analysis of the specific product of the operation. The actual sample size and frequency of measurements for variables control charts is based on production rates determined at this time. Control charts for attributes data of assembly and test operations are determined by production volumes. The type of chart may be changed as volumes increase.

When SPC has been implemented and the processes have been demonstrated to be in a state of statistical control, the product conforms to final acceptance specifications, and the process capability indices are greater than 1.33, the quality organization reviews this information along with the cost of inspection (the current sampling control chart procedure) to determine if reductions in inspection (sampling) are warranted. If warranted, inspection is reduced, and all information used to make that decision is stored. The customer is then notified of the reduction.

SPC techniques are applied through the GM Targets for Excellence (TFE) program to subcontractor/vendor processes. In all cases, statistical quality control (SQC) techniques will be used to validate subcontractor/vendor product quality. As subcontractors/vendors progress in the TFE program by increasing their process capabilities, SQC techniques are reduced or eliminated.


Results Learned

In October 1990, Hughes Aircraft Co. and Delco Electronics formed a new subsidiary called HE Microwave. This new subsidiary is our factory of the future. Shortly after its origin, it employed 10 individuals, 6 of which have already received at least 30 hours of training in the use of TQM tools. The plant manager and the quality manager are already trained. Plans are underway to provide equivalent training to the others. All employees have previously worked in a high-rate production line for electronics equipment at Delco or a highly automated military production line at Hughes. With this strong knowledge base in the area of TQM, the organization is steadily focused on meeting customer needs.

With all the training and experience within HE Microwave, the best tool that keeps the team moving is teamwork itself. In the previous paper, teamwork was stressed, and here again it turns out to be a vital key to the success of both HE Microwave and the users of the TQM tools. It is so much a part of HE Microwave that the company does not have an organization chart. Management feels that an organization chart tends to pigeonhole people in specific jobs which leads to the “it’s not my problem” syndrome. They hope that the chart never exists so that all will look at problems as their own and work together to solve them.

As of October 1990, work has started on the selection of both the best manufacturing approach and the best equipment. In trying to do this our biggest, obstacle-communication-has surfaced. When HE Microwave was set up, a shift occurred from El Segundo, CA to Tucson, AZ where HE Microwave ‘-; located. As this shift occurred, it was necessary to get out the QFD charts and review the flow down of customer needs. The review caused many questions (as it should with new members joining the team). Most have been resolved but some are still being worked. The importance of what is happening is a transfer of vital customer information to new team players in a timely manner. This transfer could not have happened without the QFD charts.

The TFE vendor networking system is also well on its way. The supplier assessment team has come up to speed and started the process with four initial suppliers. The four suppliers have been assessed, and partnerships are being developed. After this first stage, the balance of the suppliers will be introduced to the TFE process.

Through it all, the team continues to remember the importance of customer satisfaction and the key areas of focus identified by the first QFD chart: Yield, Process Capability, Rate, and Module Cost. These are the goals for the entire organization. The SPC plan is a way to help us get there. It is important to keep the overall goals in sight so that the daily grind of the work place doesn’t become overwhelming.

The key element of this program is “the team.” The team is using QFD, DOE, SPC, and TFE to help satisfy customer needs. We are using the system, changing and adapting it to achieve this customer satisfaction. Most importantly, the system is not using us. It is very important to maintain this perspective. Without it, creativity is lost and we are slaves to a system that disallows anything but the standard way of business. The team can break these barriers and go beyond what is commonplace. It can use the system to bring customer satisfaction to new heights. This is where we are going and we are using the concept of TQM to take us there.


1. Bersbach, Peter L., and Philip R. Wahl. “QFD on a Defense Contract.” 1990 ASQC Quality Congress Proceedings, San Francisco, CA.

2. King, Bob. Better Designs In Half The Time. First Ed. Methuen, MA: GOAUQPC 1987.

3. ReVelle, Jack B. The New Quality Technology. Los Angeles, CA: Hughes Aircraft Co.,1989

[1] Bersbach Peter L.. and Philip R. Wahl. “QFD on a Defense Contract.” 1990 ASQC Quality Congress Proceedings, San Francisco. CA

The NFL Talks Missing some Six Sigma Rigor

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

As practitioners of Six Sigma you may have caught this, but there are two important elements that the NFL talks have missed and I feel will lead to poor results or none at all. These two important elements are the concept of Customer Value, or some may say “stakeholder” value. Second is the concept of Teamwork. This second one I would think they would get since Football is a “Team” sport, but maybe not.

Customer Value

Customer or stakeholder value in solving an issue, involves insuring we know who the customer and or stakeholders are. Generally speaking you look at where the money comes from, Customers (fans). This is why in most places we talk about “customer Value”.  I also like to expand the “customer” to be all stakeholders because without all stakeholders a product can not be produced. So I define Stakeholders in three. Those three groups are:

1.      Customers – Where the income (money) comes from.

2.      Stockholders/owners – Who’s money is invested in the business and that investment is being spent to produce the value for the customer. Yon this group because in all businesses you have to spend money to make money. Customer pay for product at delivery usually not in advance.

3.      Employees/ Players – Who perform the “manufacturing of the product” for the customer.

Both the Stockholders/owners and the Employees/Players are investing time and/or money to create a value for the customer.

So where is the customer in the NFL talks? In businesses that are working similar issue this point and input would not be left out of the discussion, where clearly it is in the NFL talks. Businesses include them because the solution may not even be focus on increasing value to the customer. Which means insuring that the change will increase customer value thus increase profits.  When customers are left out ( even though they don’t know they are) they go some where else. That is what happened in the steel industry. That is also what was and may still be going on in the automotive industry.

By the way value can be defined (Seen) by asking three simple questions and you are creating value IF and only IF you answer yes to all three. They are:

  1. Does the Customer Care ( Is the customer willing to pay for this change)
  2. Did the “thing” in the process change. (With all the step you go through in changing a Flat tire ONLY removing the flat and placing the new tire on the car are value added.
  3. Last was it done right the first time. Customer do not like to pay for repairs or rework.


Teamwork in not decision making by concession or compromise it is decision making by consensus  or accord. To do that you have to pick you team members carefully. They need to come from all three stakeholder groups and each member needs to have the following qualities:

  1. Wants to make a difference by improving the process creating a better working place.
  2. Is willing to work on and support the team “project”.
  3. Is willing to take the risk of offering “Wild” ideas
  4. Is willing to withhold judgment
  5. Can “Piggyback off other’s ideas
  6. Is willing to LISTEN (no side talks)


As you can see not all the stakeholders are on the team and those that are there do not or will not agree with the 6 items above. In the six sigma world of problem solving this will only lead to disaster.

Well there you have my thoughts on the NFL talks. If, you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, emailing me, calling me, or leaving a comment on my website.


Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Picking the Right Solution

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

In Six Sigma we use a five step process (DMAIC) based on facts and data focused on our customer value to grow the business. The idea is to improve the process; make things better; make step function improvements. But as I say that I have seen perfectly run projects get to the end of analyze and are killed when they start to make the improvements. Killed by management. What has happened? To understand that let’s look at the objectives of the Analyze step and the Improve step.

Analyze: Analyze the current state data and determine the Root Causes (opportunities to improve).

Improve: Develop and implement the best plan for improvement of the opportunities (Root Causes) identified in the Analyze Step.

The problem I have found is that teams focus is on one root cause and what they perceive as the best solution to that root cause. That does meet the objectives but the team is made up  of experts and others involved in the process at hand. They do not see the bigger picture from the total company or corporation view point. What usually kills the project is the solution is not acceptable to upper management and it is upper management that are the experts of the top level company/ corporate view of things. The L1 (level 1) Map of an organization. The team is usually working (and are the experts) at a L3 or 4 of the company. So how do you solve this problem. By doing two things.

1.) Make sure that your top level management sponsor is constantly up-to-date on all the teams activities. That they are PART of the team where they will see these problems coming. They are part of that management expertise that can see issues that will cause a solution, that looks obvious, to not work for the company as a whole. This is one reason why in Define you want a top level manager that has “scheduled” their time to work with the team. They have to be committed not just supportive of the team.

2.) Every problem I have seen has had more that on Root Cause. Each root cause also has more than one solution. Make sure you have multiple ways (options) to solve your problem. Yes, one of the causes will be the biggest and to solve it there will be one way that gives you the best return on investment, but you need to propose several ways to solve the problem, some better than others but all make an improvement.

Now when you pitch your solution to management you give them several options that your top level manager/sponsor has seen and supports. Management can look at what you propose and select the best way from their expert view point. Yes, I would push the teams solution but management should be able to tell you why they would not go with that one and as such your can propose a alternative that you have already developed that avoids the issue they see.

When a team does this they never seem to fail at this point in the project and they tend to go on to success.

Well there you have my thoughts on picking the right solution. It more like picking the right solutions. I hope this help you with your project and brings you to success. If, you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, emailing me, calling me, or leaving a comment on my website.

Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt