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DMAIC Case Study-Delivering Record Products without

Delays
Monday, July 2, 2018 8:23 PM

The record label Music Co. was experiencing a high number of incident tickets regarding its digital release planning
system, mostly as a result of delays in a release, reported by the sales team. To help deliver their record products in
a more timely fashion, the organization used the DMAIC roadmap to uncover the causes of the delays in their
planning system and develop countermeasures.

Record Label 101
To begin, it may help to review the business of a recording company in a high-level manner. Some terms to
understand:

• Recording companies manage different record labels within the company.
• Record labels are brands associated with the marketing of music recordings and videos. A label signs contracts with
artists and maintains a wide-ranging repertoire of genres, such as pop, jazz, country, classical and Latin.
• Planning system is a tool used by a label company to plan and schedule a release. The system handles physical
products, such as CDs, vinyl albums and cassette tapes. With the advent of digital music, these systems have been
enhanced to handle physical, digital and mobile distributions. This means a user can still maintain physical releases
and also schedule digital/mobile releases. Unlike physical products, digital recordings are released to digital service
providers, such as Apple iTunes, eMusic, BuyMusic and Rhapsody, as soon as they are approved by release
management. From the customer’s (distributors) perspective, the accuracy and timeliness of a release is critical to
achieve customer satisfaction.

Starting the Project
With digital music, the entire recording industry acts in concert. If the product is not available at the scheduled time on
a vendor website, consumers may opt for a pirated version. This is something the labels, vendors, artists and other
value-added resellers do not want to happen. Therefore, the record label’s customers believe that timely delivery of
products to the sales team without error is essential. This is considered a critical-to-quality (CTQ) characteristic of the
process. From the business perspective, the record label in this project believed that efficiency and transparency
between multiple elements of the system could improve cycle time.

To consider if this project was a candidate for the application of Six Sigma, the Music Co. organization was asked to
complete a project qualification checklist (Table 1).

Checklist High Medium Low
How important is this project to your customer? Y
Is there a Champion who feels that the project is important? Y
Is there a Green Belt to assist this project? Y
Is the CTQ characteristic measurable? Y
Is data available or easily tracked? Y
Are the benefits easily measurable? Y
Is the process stabilized or under control? Y
Is the scope narrow enough to finish in four to six months? Y
Is this project considered important within the organization? Y
Are there alternative solutions available? Y
Total weight 8 2
Table 1: Project Qualification Checklist
The project qualified, and a team was established to work on this project. The case study followed the DMAIC steps.

Define
In this phase, the team created a SIPOC diagram (Figure 1).

Six Sigma Page 1

a vendor may try to renegotiate the price if the product is not delivered on time. an artist may drop future contracts. Figure 2: Loss-Gain Matrix Loss Gain Short Term -Impact on overall resolution -Improved resolution -Related dissatisfaction -Related satisfaction Long Term -Client escalations -Client satisfaction -Loss of business -More business -Revenue Growth Measure Under the current process. and pricing power switches to the vendors. Figure 1: SIPOC Diagram of the Label Planning System The effects of continuing the process as is are depicted in Figure 2. Figure 3 shows the timeline and the process steps for a cycle of release.In this phase. the team created a SIPOC diagram (Figure 1). For example. 14 weeks is the optimal time for a product to move from a creation request to hitting the market. Also. the loss-gain matrix. Figure 3: Process Map and Life-cycle Timeline Six Sigma Page 2 .

the team focused on process variation. Therefore. P1 and P2 tickets consume significant time and cost. it is the responsibility of labels to make sure the product is delivered on time.e. ’08 to Aug. Analyze In this phase. Figure 4 depicts a run chart of system interruptions and resolution efforts over this period. emails and requests made on the fly over the phone. The project team collected data from issue tracking tools. Figure 4: Run Chart of Issues and Resolution Efforts from Oct. the team set a target of reducing the number of incident tickets to 21 per month. Because delays are caused by problems in the planning process.78. Anything not delivered to the customer (i. the hours spent and the number of people involved to resolve the issue over a 10-month period. service providers) before cut-off time causes a delay in the promotion of a product. The expectation for this project was to reduce Priority 1 (P1) and Priority 2 (P2) tickets to a great extent. The baseline data shows a sigma level for the process of 1. and involve system issues such as: • Software bugs • Inefficient handling of products due to lack of experience/training Six Sigma Page 3 . A product release date is established upon the signing of an artist contract. ’09 The chart shows how many tickets were opened in a month. All source information was tracked in a spreadsheet for the period of October 2008 through July 2009..

which was driven using feed files. which meant issues were not noticed until the production stage.• Inefficient handling of products due to lack of experience/training • Process follow through • Testing efforts (both IT and business) The project team developed a cause-and-effect diagram for the delays in product release cycle time. • Replication servers – When source servers failed. the team discovered that many of the defects were similar in nature. Figure 5: Cause-and-Effect Diagram for Delays in Cycle Time The team concentrated on four key areas and their underlying causes of delays: 1. • Lack of user acceptance testing. They grouped predominant or common issues under the same issue classification and tracked the number of errors in each category. The data was displayed in a Pareto diagram (Figure 6). Figure 6: Pareto Chart of the Causes of Release Delay Six Sigma Page 4 . • Server issues – Failure in production servers that schedule jobs. they triggered an unexpected failover. Multi-platform: • Data feeds – Network error/congestion that caused delays in data movement. 4. Planning-system centric environment • Database – Performance within the database restricted product movement. Business group: • Lack of training for label planners due to staff turnover. • Lack of experience due to staff turnover. • Data flows – Erroneous data from the source system created havoc in all downstream systems. • Network issues – Network failures and traffic. 3. seen here in Figure 5. Information Systems and Technology: • Architecture – Software design issues • Testing – Lack of resource-reducing testing time • Network issues – Network failures and traffic After numerous brainstorming sessions. 2. • Reduced motivation due to downsizing. more ambiguity among new employees.

19. 28. 28. 5. Improve The team then developed countermeasures to prevent the main causes of these delays. 2009 Network network failures in digital release administrator engineering process 5 Establish training procedures and IT Aug. 2009 Release Errors/bugs in review current testing plan engineer management design of planning specific to the planning system system 2 Provide logs of external system Vendor Aug. the team estimated that the process would perform at a 3.04 sigma level. 28. The actions taken by the team are summarized in Table 2. lack of experience among business groups and system design defects accounted for 80 percent of the causes of delay. 2009 Quality feature on the planning system Assurance 4 Audit and report point-to-point Network Aug. 2009 – Service Lack of best practice guidelines for new communicatio review first draft management experience. Figure 7: Improvement Targets Six Sigma Page 5 . After taking the countermeasures. and existing employees n manager training Figure 7 shows the improvement targets that the team set. Table 2: Action Plan Action Description Owner Due Date Function Root Causes Item No.External system bugs. 2009 OLA Bugs sourced bug errors to vendor for manager management from external evaluation and recommendation systems 3 Test the software fix to the timing QA analyst Aug. 1 Meet with Quality Assurance to System Aug.

the record label: • Has a projected growth in revenue of more than $2 million per year • Has reduced downtime.isixsigma. Control The team implemented the action plan and tracked performance.com/implementation/case-studies/delivering-record-products-without-delays-dmaic-case- Six Sigma Page 6 . Because this project involved a process that is so crucial for the recording business. Applying quantitative tools and techniques – namely the Pareto chart. Figure 8 shows the run chart of improvements that were achieved. Due the project. the overall results are far reaching. control chart and cause-and-effect diagram – can focus the analysis on the root causes of defects and inefficiencies. Figure 8: Run Chart of the Number of Tickets by Month Lessons Learned Understanding customer experience is key to driving business improvement. which helps improve cycle time to hours rather than days • Is able to handle new product development features rapidly From <https://www.

com/implementation/case-studies/delivering-record-products-without-delays-dmaic-case- study/> Six Sigma Page 7 .From <https://www.isixsigma.