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U nderstanding processes so that they can be im proved by m eans of a system atic approach requires the
know ledge of a sim ple kit of tools or techniques. The effective use of these tools and techniques requires
their application by the people w ho actually w ork on the processes, and their com m itm ent to this w ill only
be possible if they are assured that m anagem ent cares about im proving quality. M anagers m ust show they
are com m itted by providing the training and im plem entation support necessary.
The tools and techniques m ost com m only used in process im provem ent are:
• Problem solving m ethodology, such as D R IVE
• Process m apping
• Process ow charting
• Force eld analysis
• C ause & effect diagram s
• C ED A C
• B rainstorm ing
• Pareto analysis
• Statistical process control (SPC )
• C ontrol charts
• C heck sheets
• B ar charts
• Scatter diagram s
• M atrix analysis
• D ot plot or tally chart
• H istogram s
DRIVE is an approach to problem solving and analysis that can be used as part of process im provem ent.
Deﬁne the scope of the problem the criteria by w hich success w ill be m easured and
agree the deliverables and success factors
Review the current situation, understand the background, identify and collect inform ation,
including perform ance, identify problem areas, im provem ents and “quick w ins”
Identify im provem ents or solutions to the problem , required changes to enable and
sustain the im provem ents
Verify check that the im provem ents w ill bring about bene ts that m eet the de ned
success criteria, prioritise and pilot the im provem ents
Execute plan the im plem entation of the solutions and im provem ents, agree and im plem ent
them , plan a review , gather feedback and review
Tools & Techniques f or Process Improvement
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O ne of the initial steps to understand or im prove a process is Process Mapping. B y gathering inform ation
w e can construct a “dynam ic”m odel - a picture of the activities that take place in a process. Process m aps
are useful com m unication tools that help im provem ent team s understand the process and identify
opportunities for im provem ent.
ICOR(inputs, outputs, controls and resources) is an internationally accepted process analysis m ethodology
for process m apping. It allow s processes to be broken dow n into sim ple, m anageable and m ore easily
understandable units. The m aps de ne the inputs, outputs, controls and resources for both the high level
process and the sub-processes.
Suppliers Process Customers
page 2 of 8
Process m apping provides a com m on fram ew ork, discipline and language, allow ing a system atic w ay of
w orking. C om plex interactions can be represented in a logical, highly visible and objective w ay. It de nes
w here issues or “pinch points“exist and provides im provem ent team s w ith a com m on decision m aking
fram ew ork.
To construct a process m ap:
• B rainstorm all activities that routinely occur w ithin the scope of the process
• G roup the activities into 4-6 key sub-processes
• Identify the sequence of events and links betw een the sub-processes
• D e ne as a high level process m ap and sub-process m aps using IC O R
Process m aps provide a dynam ic view of how an organisation can deliver enhanced business value.
“W hat if” scenarios can be quickly developed by com paring m aps of the process “As is” w ith the process
A nother tool used in the construction of process m aps is Process Flowcharting. This is a pow erful
technique for recording, in the form of a picture, exactly w hat is done in a process.
page 3 of 8
There are certain standard sym bols used in classic ow charts, and these are:
If a ow chart cannot be draw n using these sym bols, then the process is not fully understood. The purpose
of the ow chart is to learn w hy the current process operates the w ay it does and to conduct an objective
analysis, to identify problem s and w eaknesses, unnecessary steps or duplication and the objectives of the
im provem ent effort.
Force Field Analysis is a technique for identifying forces w hich m ay help
or hinder achieving a change or im provem ent. B y assessing the forces
that prevent m aking the change, plans can be developed to overcom e
them . It is also im portant to identify those forces that w ill help w ith the
change. O nce these forces have been identi ed and analysed, it is
possible to determ ine if a proposed change is viable.
Factors or Concerns
The effect or problem being
investigated is show n at the
end of a horizontal arrow ;
potential causes are then
show n as labelled arrow s
entering the m ain cause arrow .
Each arrow m ay have other
arrow s entering it as the
principal causes or factors are
reduced to their sub-causes;
brainstorm ing can be
effectively used to generate
the causes and sub-causes.
page 4 of 8
A useful w ay of m apping the inputs that effect quality is the Cause & Effect Diagram, also know as the
Fishboneor Ishikawa Diagram. It is also a useful technique for opening up thinking in problem solving.
Brainst orming can be used in conjunction w ith the C ause and Effect tool. It is a group technique used to
generate a large num ber of ideas quickly and m ay be used in a variety of situations. Each m em ber of the
group, in turn, can put forw ard an idea concerning the problem being considered. W ild ideas are w elcom ed
and no criticism or evaluation occurs during brainstorm ing, all ideas being recorded for subsequent analysis.
The process continues until no further ideas are forthcom ing and increases the chance for originality and
innovation. It can be used for:
• Identifying problem areas
• Identifying areas for im provem ent
• D esigning solutions to problem s
• D eveloping action plans
Pareto Analysis can be used to analyse the ideas from a
brainstorm ing session. It is used to identify the vital few
problem s or causes of problem s that have the greatest
im pact. A Pareto diagram or chart pictorially represents
data in the form of a ranked bar chart that show s the
frequency of occurrence of item s in descending order.
U sually, Pareto diagram s reveal that 80% of the effect is
attributed to 20% of the causes; hence, it is som e-tim es
know n as the 80/20 rule.
C E B A D
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W ith CEDAC – Cause and Effect Diagram with the Addition of Cards, the effect side of the diagram is a
quanti ed description of the problem , and the cause side of the diagram uses tw o different coloured cards
for w riting the f act s and the ideas.
The f act s are gathered and w ritten on the left of the spines, and the ideas for im provem ent on the right
of the cause spines. The ideas are evaluated and selected for substance and practicality.
Ef f ect
Fact or Problem
Statistical Process Control (SPC) is a toolkit for m anaging processes. It is also a strategy for reducing the
variability in products, deliveries, m aterials, equipm ent, attitudes and processes, w hich are the cause of
m ost quality problem s. SPC w ill reveal w hether a process is “in control”–stable and exhibiting only
random variation, or “out of control”and needing attention. It also autom atically w arns w hen perform ance
deteriorates, and can assist w ith long-term defect reduction, identi cation of special or assignable causes,
reduction or elim ination of causes of variation and achievem ent of a level of perform ance as close to target
In SPC , num bers and inform ation form the basis for decisions and actions, and a thorough data recording
system is essential. In addition to the tools necessary for recording the data, there also exists a set of tools
to analyse and interpret the data, som e of w hich are covered in the follow ing pages. A n understanding of
the tools and how to use them requires no prior know ledge of statistics.
O ne of the key tools of SPC is a Control Chart. It is
used to m onitor processes that are in control, using
m eans and ranges. It represents data, e.g, sales,
volum e, custom er com plaints, in chronological order,
show ing how the values change w ith tim e. In a
control chart each point is given individual signi cance
and is joined to its neighbours. A bove and below the
m ean, U pper and Low er W arning and A ction lines
(U W L, LW L, U A L, LA L) are draw n. These act as
signals or decision rules, and give operators
inform ation about the process and its state of control.
The charts are useful as a historical record of the
process as it happens, and as an aid to detecting and
A Check Sheet is an organised w ay of collecting and
structuring data, its purpose is to collect the facts in
the m ost ef cient w ay. It ensures that the inform ation
that is collected is w hat w as asked for and that
everyone is doing it the sam e w ay. D ata is collected
and ordered by adding tally or check m arks against
predeterm ined categories of item s or m easurem ents.
It sim pli es the task of analysis.
Bar Charts are visual displays of data in w hich the
height of the bars is used to show the relative size of
the quantity m easured. The bars can be separated to
show that the data is not directly related or
continuous. They can be used to give visual im pact to
data, com pare different types of data and com pare
data collected at different tim es.
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A Scatter Diagramis a graphical representation of how one variable changes w ith respect to another. The
variables are plotted on axes at right angles to each other and the scatter in the points gives a m easure of
con dence in any correlation show n.
They show w hether 2 variables are related, or prove that they are not, the type of relationship, if any,
betw een the variables and how one variable m ight be controlled, by suitably controlling the other. They also
m ake predictions of values lying outside the m easured range.
In its sim plest form , Matrix Analysis is a w ay of
presenting data in a rectangular grid, w ith data
displayed along the top and dow n the side.
Sym bols placed at the intersections of the grid enable
relationships to be established betw een the tw o sets
of data. It sum m arises all the know n data in one table
and highlights gaps in know ledge and relationships
betw een item s. It is a valuable attention focusing tool
for team s, and sim pli es the task of priority ranking a
set of item s.
The Dot Plot or Tally Chart is a frequency distribution. It show s how often (the frequency) a particular
value has occurred. The shape of the plot can reveal a great deal about a process, giving a picture of the
variation, highlighting unusual values and indicating the probability of particular values occurring.
X X XX
X X X
X XX X
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A Histogramis a picture of variation or distribution, w here data has been grouped into cells and their
frequency represented as bars. It is convenient for large am ounts of data, particularly w hen the range is
w ide. It gives a picture of the extent of variation, highlights unusual areas and indicates the probability of
particular values occurring.
W ith such a shopping list of tools and techniques, it m ay not be easy to know w hich one to use w hen. To
overcom e this problem , the follow ing m atrix refers to the six step m ethodology for process im provem ent
and indicates the key tools and techniques that could be used in each step. H ow ever, this list is not
exhaustive and the tools should be used in conjunction w ith m easurem ent techniques.
Process Improvement Methodology Step (refer to section on Processes)
Select U nderstand Perform ance R eview C hange C apture
D R IVE
C ause & Effect
/C ED A C
B rainstorm ing
Pareto A nalysis
R un/C ontrol C harts
C heck Sheets
B ar C harts
Scatter D iagram
M atrix A nalysis
D ot Plot
page 8 of 8
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