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Guest Manik Sood

Six Sigma In Services?

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Guest Manik Sood

What I know about Six Sigma is that it follows DMAIC process.

Services are intangible and cannot be measured. Someone please tell me - How analyze phase works for services? How control charts / other tools help in this process?

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Hi Manik,

Very important question for service sector professionals.

Here is my answer - Anything that needs improvement should be measured first. If something is critical, you can surely find methods to measure it.

In service sector -

  • Dissatisfaction is measured by poor referral, poor repeat sales, or loss of customers.
  • Employee motivation is measured by absenteeism, productivity, attrition.
  • Success of social activity is measured by number of posts, new friends and "likes"
  • Taste of liquor is measured by scores given by experts (with their tongue as measuring device)
  • Quality of service is measured through carefully designed feedback forms.
  • Success of schemes is measured by increase in sales.
  • Success of email campaign is measured by clicks.
  • Success of outbound sales is measured by various conversion rates - cold contact to leads, leads to hot leads, hot leads to accounts, accounts to up-sell

I presume you got the idea. Let us play a game - I suggest you and other viewers to challenge the creativity/ingenuity of this community by providing situations where measures are tough to devise.

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Amazing thought VK.

I have a situation described as below

Being in service industry, the metrics of Resource Utiliztion and Productivity are paramount for us. Like any other service industry, we do track the time an agent takes to process. We have an automated time tracker. What usually happens is an agent comes into office, starts the time tracker and leaves it on for the full day. Before leaving he signs out from the time tracker - thereby showing that he was only working on the process the whole day. Now this is IMPOSSIBLE. The challenge here is that he forgets or does not want to enter the break times / training times etc. How can this be tracked and monitored?

My initial thoughts on this is to have a metric which says # of instances he did not update the tracker per the total # of times he was suppose to update it. E.g. Assuming he took 1 break and attended 1 training. Assuming that he needs to start and stop time for each activity, he will have to update the tracker 10 times (1 break, 1 training and 3 processing activities).

Any suggestions???

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well, in this case i think, the time alone can not be the measure. Preferable is 'output/time' measure and some qualifying levels/ rating chart for that. This is what we call as productivity.

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Interesting situation, Mayank. Output/time is the right metric. However, it seems the question is that of reliability of data.

One method, though imperfect, is where the computer throws random number at the agent every few minutes. If the agent types it quickly, he gets a pass. If he fails to enter in a few seconds, it is a fail. You may allow some fails if total time is long.

The method only checks that the agent is right there! May still miss whether he was really working on the process.

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Hi Mayank,

I had been in a similar real scenario earlier. First of all you need to identify the cause why you are capturing the time. If the purpose for some study then its ok and fine you can use any method. But if you nee dot get this implemented with entire operations then you need to focus on few critical aspects mentioned below:

  • Why is this being implemented?
  • How big is the size of operations where it is to be implemented?
  • It is directly impcting Finance, Operations or both?

The reason why I am asking to review is identify the need to do so. It might be possible we can find out other way to solve the problem.

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Dear Manik:

Mr Vishwadeep Katri has explained well giving an all round prolific response.

There are two parts to your question...what is Six sigma and DMAIC.

Six Sigma .... is supposed to co note 6 times sigma...where in sigma is the variations within the data set.

data is therefore all important.

Six sigma process ...denotes the process with less than 3.54 defects per million opportunities.

You may have processes capable to deliver less than six sigma , infact mostly all process deleiver less than 3 sigma level. Unless and untill we exert to reduce process variations to allow fitment of almost all probabilities to fit in the normal curve ....thats the objective.

with discrete data and by visible causative improvements ..one can experience an improvement from below 3 sigma levels to 3.9 sigma level. For process to be capable to deliver in levels > 4 sigma, we need data metric to be continuous to all tests / studies validations be done under normal distributions and easier to manage.

DMAIC is a roadmap for the improvement journey...define-measure-analyse-improve-control.

The discussion will go a long way.....cannot sum up in simple terms without further interactions.

Let me know , if you have more questions .

Parashuraman

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Dear Mayank Gupta:

What the time tracker will do is to measure the Log in hours by populating the check out time minus check in time.

what you mean to find is probably the TIME ON SYSTEM.....active production hours. this will exclude all those elements which goes in BREAK TIME ; Breifing Time ; Training Time ; Meeting Time ; etc etc. which are either an investment on time by training/ breifing/bio breaks or disinvestment of time by distressing ; discussions ; smoke break whatever.

Therefore...Log in hours - ( all the disinvestment times + investment times ) = Active production time or Time on system

Total number of transactions or number of calls resolved divided by the total active production time will be equal to the productivity of the day.

if you decide to move on to hourly traction , you may have this set of measurements set up done for every hour...giving hourly productivity.

It will be interesting to know some section of the day will be highly productive and some sections very unproductive.

the discussions call roll from here with more insights.

hope , this is making some sense.

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