What is causing the problem? The Analyze Phase is often not given enough attention and, without analysis, teams jump to solutions before knowing the true root causes of the issues. The result is teams who implement solutions but don’t resolve the problem! These efforts waste time, consume resources, create more variation and, often cause new problems. The ideal is for teams to brainstorm potential root causes (not solutions), develop hypotheses as to why problems exist and then work to prove or disprove their hypotheses. Verification includes both process analysis and data analysis and has to be completed before implementing solutions. This is the crux of the Analyze Phase!
Closely Examine the Process
After conducting a Process Walk, creating high level and detailed process maps and collecting process performance data, the team is able to analyze the process and list their concerns or pain points. These activities allow the team to take advantage of the collective wisdom of the process participants. The team can proceed with further process analysis by conducting any of the following:
- Time Analysis: focuses on the actual time work is being done in the process in versus the time spent waiting. What teams discover is that whereas people are 99% busy, “things” are 99% idle.
- Value Added Analysis: adds another dimension of discovery by looking at the process through the eyes of the customer to uncover the cost of doing business.
- Value Stream Mapping: combines process data with a map of the value-adding steps to help determine where Waste can be removed.
Graphically Display the Data
After collecting data, the team is able to display it using charts and graphs providing visual indications of process problems. The transformation of numbers into visuals allows the team to easily communicate their findings to leadership and other process participants. Selecting the right charts and graphs provides the team with valuable insights about the causes of process issues.
Look for What Might be Causing the Problem
The team combines both “Process Analysis” and “Data Analysis” in an effort to uncover “root causes” of Waste or defects in the process. The classic structured brainstorming tool known as the Cause & Effect or “Fishbone” Diagram is the best way to gather the wisdom of process participants. The 5 Whys is the best companion tool since it guides team members past symptoms to root causes. This helps the team narrow down to the vital few causes of lost time, defects and waste in the process.
Webinar: How to Use a Fishbone Diagram
Verify the Cause(s) of the Problem
Tools: Root Cause Hypothesis
Update Your Project Charter
After further investigating the data, the team finds additional detail around process performance and the potential for improvement. The team updates the Project Charter with the new information. At the conclusion of the Analyze Phase teams often change their team members. This results when root causes exist in areas or departments with no representation on the current project team. Getting the right people on the team before moving to the Improve Phase is critical. Don’t make the mistake of fixing someone’s process without involving them!
Tools: Project Charter