Importance of Monitoring Processes and Having Good Data

Posted by on Nov 24, 2019 in Continuous Improvement, Data Collection, Decision Making, Lean Six Sigma, Problem Solving | 0 comments

We’ve all been taught that without data our understanding of problems is just an opinion and in order to understand a problem or make a decision we must have good data.  During our training in continuous improvement and Lean Six Sigma we are taught the importance of a good data collection plan, having an accurate measurement system and the need to establish operational definitions if required.

Even in our personal lives good data is a must if we are to manage our finances and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle.  We balance our checkbooks, watch our monthly expenses don’t get out-of-hand, pay our bills, watch our calories and carbs, monitor our weight and blood pressure, get our blood work done and undergo periodic medical exams to ensure everything is going well.  All this data put together helps provide the information we need to run our lives and make the best decisions we can.

Other important elements of data collection are the frequency and the size of the sample we collect.  If we’re trying to lose weight, we wouldn’t weigh ourselves once a month but must weigh ourselves more frequently usually on a daily basis or at a minimum once per week.  Counting calories and carbs can’t be done periodically but must be done on a daily basis.  If we want to keep our checkbooks balanced we keep accurate and timely entries and always compare it to the monthly statement.

So, whatever is important to us we want to make sure we do it often and that the sample size is adequate for us to control it properly.  If we don’t, what is important to us may get out of control and will take much longer to get back in shape.

It is no different in our jobs and the data we collect on a daily basis to monitor and control our businesses.  In order to ensure financial success we develop statements that look at our revenue and expenses.  We develop a budget and monitor conformance to it.  It should be no different for our processes if we want to be successful.  We need to know how many of each product we can deliver or the number of services we can provide each day.  We need accurate information on what and where our defects, mistakes, and errors occur.  What machine or person is responsible for the problem?  This makes sense because without it how can we make corrections and get the process back on track?

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