Analyze Phase in Six Sigma

Purpose

To pinpoint and verify causes affecting the key input and output variables tied to project goals. (“Finding the critical Xs”)

Deliverables

  • Documentation of potential causes considered in your analysis
  • Data charts and other analyses that show the link between the targeted input and process (Xs) variables and critical output (Y)
  • Identification of value-add and non-value-add work
  • Calculation of process cycle efficiency

Key steps in Analyze

  1. Conduct value analysis. Identify value-add, non-value-add and business non-value-add steps
  2. Calculate Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE). Compare to world-class benchmarks to help determine how much improvement is needed.
  3. Analyze the process flow. Identify bottleneck points and constraints in a process, fallout and rework points, and assess their impact on the process throughput and its ability to meet customer demands and CTQs.
  4. Analyze data collected in Measure.
  5. Generate theories to explain potential causes. Use brainstorming, FMEA, C&E diagrams or matrices, and other tools to come up with potential causes of the observed effects.
  6. Narrow the search. Use brainstorming, selection, and prioritization techniques (Pareto charts, hypothesis testing, etc.) to narrow the search for root causes and significant cause-and-effect relationships.
  7. Collect additional data to verify root causes. Use scatter plots or more sophisticated statistical tools (such as hypothesis testing, ANOVA, or regression) to verify significant relationships.
  8. Prepare for Analyze gate review.

Gate review checklist for Analyze

  1. Process Analysis
    • Calculations of Process Cycle Efficiency
    • Where process flow problems exist
  2. Root Cause Analysis
    • Documentation of the range of potential Key Process Input Variables (KPIVs) that were considered (such as cause-and-effect diagrams; FMEA)
    • Documentation of how the list of potential causes was narrowed (stratification, multivoting, Pareto analysis, etc.)
    • Statistical analyses and/or data charts that confirm or refute a cause-and-effect relationship and indicate the strength of the relationship (scatter plot, design of experiment results, regression calculations, ANOVA, component of variation, lead time calculations showing how much improvement is possible by elimination of NVA activities, etc.)
    • Documentation of which root causes will be targeted for action in Improve (include criteria used for selection)
  3. Updated charter and project plans
    • Team recommendations on potential changes in team membership considering what may happen in Improve (expertise and skills needed, work areas affected, etc.)
    • Revisions/updates to project plans for Improve, such as time and resource commitments needed to complete the project
    • Team analysis of project status (still on track? still appropriate to focus on original goals?)
    • Team analysis of current risks and potential for acceleration
    • Plans for the Improve phase

Tips for Analyze 

  • If you identify a quick-hit improvement opportunity, implement using a Kaizen approach. Get partial benefits now, then continue with project.
  • Be critical about your own data collection—the data must help you understand the causes of the problem you’re investigating. Avoid “paralysis by analysis”: wasting valuable project time by collecting data that don’t move the project forward.
  • This is a good time in a project to celebrate team success for finding the critical Xs and implementing some quick hits!

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