Written by Ms.Geethai Narayanasamy, ASQ CSSBB, Quality Management Professional, Chennai, India
For practicing Six Sigma, one should not only know the tools and techniques of Six Sigma methodology, one should also be aware of various software and tools available for Six sigma support and the features available in these software. This article aims at throwing light on the nature and purpose of these software, its features and benefits, and some of the software used popularly across the industry.
Purpose and Benefits of using a Software Tool for Six Sigma
Organizations use Software for managing and analyzing data for Six sigma projects. The main purpose of this is to assist teams with standardized and readily available tools that will simplify the effort spent on six sigma projects. Using Six Sigma software will provide the following benefits:
- Assist users to choose the right tools and methods
- Help teams in analyzing data with ease and standardized approach
- Provide a Standardized analysis package across the organization and industry which makes the interpretation of results simple, presentable and easy
- Reduce human error and wins the confidence of management and stakeholder
- Reduce human effort spent on complex methods and analysis
Features of Typical Six Sigma Software
A Six Sigma software has one or more of the below features and functionality.
- Plot and analyze Control Charts
- Assist users in Hypothesis testing and generating p values
- Used for Complex statistical methods like ANOVA, Regression analysis, Discriminant analysis and so on
- Used for plotting and identifying distributions and analyzing Normality of data
- Used for analyzing trends and forecasting data based on pattern identified
- Used for Process Modeling and Analysis
- Used for Process Simulation and Analysis
- Used for Measurement system Analysis – Reliability, Gage R&R
- Used for creating and modifying Quality tools like FMEA, QFD, Pareto chart, etc.
- Used for online Project management, approval, review of Project performance
- Used to create and manage Project portfolio
- Used for Six Sigma training and Tools usage trainings
The above is only a high level overview of some of the basic functionality of a typical ‘Six Sigma software’.
On a real time basis, a tool/software may or may not provide all of the above features. Some tools may specifically concentrate on the Data analysis part. Some tools may concentrate only on business process modelling and Simulation. Some other tools might have only Quality tools and template that can be used ready-made.
Let’s quickly go through some of the most popular software available in the market.
Six Sigma Software List
Minitab is one of the most commonly used packages in the industry across the globe for Analysis of Data. It has all the features starting from Simple Descriptive Statistics to most advanced features like Simulations and Distributions. Some of the key features available in Minitab are: Graphical Analysis, Regression & ANOVA methods, DoE, SPC, MSA, Multivariate Analysis, Time series & Forecasting, Non-Parametric study, Simulations & Distribution and so on.
iGrafx enables users to perform Process Analysis & Design with the help of its Process Mapping tool.
It allows users to create process maps compatible with BPMN, conduct What-If analysis, Simulation, create Value Stream Maps, Process Knowledge Management, centralized process management & control, Enterprise Modelling – Impact & Gap analysis, Risk analysis and Governance, Process Performance Management & KPI Dashboard . It also provides advanced features like intelligent diagramming – for LEAN processes, Multiple Scenario Analysis & Reporting, Simulate Full factorial experiments, Process Modelling for SAP and many such features.
JMP is another popular software used for statistical and data analysis. JMP offers similar features like Data Visualisation and Exploratory Data analysis, Design of Experiments, Quality, reliability and Six Sigma analysis etc. Apart from this, JMP has specific features like Predictive modelling & data mining, and Consumer and Market research module. JMP also has special and customised software for clinical research, Genomics etc.
There are also other famous tools like the following, whose application are also listed.
MS-Visio – Flowcharting & Process Modelling
Smartdraw – Flowcharting & Process Modelling
Statistica – Statistical Analysis & Modelling
SPSS – Statistical Analysis & Modelling
SAS – Data modelling & mining
Apart from large scale software, there are many small tools and Macros & Add-ins (MS-Office based programs) that may serve only a very specific problem or purpose. It is up to the user to identify the right tool for him and use. A lot of Excel based Macros & Add-ins are also available in the web, which user can download and use. But, user should be cautious of viruses and malwares while downloading such applications. With care and right approach, Six Sigma analysis and tool usage is an easy task, thanks to application developers and freeware providers.