The analyze phase is one of the most dreaded phases in the Six Sigma methodology. There are common assumptions made that this phase involves a lot of high level statistical analysis. No wonder that most trainings are scheduled before analyze phase. The Six Sigma team members want to refresh their concepts before they actually get down and get their hands dirty.
However, the fact is that Statistics takes the limelight involved. Statistical analysis is just the last stage of a series of analysis. This is so because the Six Sigma methodology focuses on verifiable facts and statistics can empirically confirm a statement and make an opinion of a fact. Here is a look at the different analysis that are carried out behind the scenes.
Process Map Analysis: Almost always, the Analyze phase begins with a god look at the detailed process map. The process map is analyzed and a comprehensive list of bottlenecks as well as waste producing activities is made. This gives the team a fair idea of where their problems actually lie within a process.
Graphical Analysis: The next step usually involved using the tools and techniques that are linked to the Analyze phase. Most of these tools end up with a graphical result. The next step in the process is to then have a good look at the graphs from the bottlenecks and waste points specified by the process map analysis. This is done because directly conducting a statistical analysis can be an expensive exercise as it involves the services of a lot of people and extensive data collection.
Statistical Analysis: Only after there seems to be fair evidence that the Six Sigma team has used the preliminary analysis to reach the important problems, is the statistical analysis implemented.
Example: A Six Sigma project team is trying to conduct the analyze phase on a process. Even though the vital few inputs have been identified in the earlier stage, there still will be hundreds of relationships that might exist between the data. How does the Six Sigma project team know, which relationships are significant and must be hypothesised? No company has the resources to waste on conducting every possible hypothesis.
In such cases, the preliminary analysis serve the purpose. It requires some expertise and common sense on the part of a Six Sigma team to actually identify the business problems. These problems are then converted to statistical problems and a solution is reached as per the fact based nature of Six Sigma methodology.