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Business Continuous improvement (part 1)

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Lean management objective:

  • remove waste from processes
  • focus on value to the customer

Concept taken from six sigma and kaizen

What is DMAIC

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

There are a variety of benefits in following DMAIC

  • Firstly it’s a structured approach and provides a road map for solutions solving from start to finish and is tied into producing bottom line results for businesses.
  • Secondly it supports an analytical approach through use of data, this helps ensure that accurate baselines can be established and improvements quantified – finally utilizing DMAIC is suited to challenging problems and the model helps find answers where both problems and solutions are likely to be complex


Allow the project team to produce:

  • A project charter or initiation document
  • High level process maps
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Project plans

First Steps

Projects are usually initiated by a project sponsor – the role of the sponsor is to select the project and produce the first draft of the project charter which is typically one of the first tasks within an improvement project. Whilst the contents of a project charter may vary it will typically cover the nature of the business problem, the goals, deliverables and structure of the project team.

Key steps in the Define stage

  1. Produce and review Project charter/Initiation document
  2. Define and Validate problems – ensure that the problem exists, and is important.
  3. Define the Project Goal
  4. Validate business rationalie for going ahead with project – eg. Financial
  5. Develop Project Plans
  6. Develop the project structure


  • Ensure that the current process is fully understood and that data is captured to both provide a benchmark of current activity/performance
  • Compare against the customers needs and to enable the project team to drill down to the root cause of the issue(s).

Key steps

In the measure phase the key element is to ensure that the current state of the process is thoroughly understood therefore much of this phase is concerned with describing and measuring current activities – to do this efficiently a process map is usually required – value stream maps are used as they incorporate data such as inventory levels together with material and information flows rather than just being interested in the process flow.

A data collection plan is devised in order that accurate data is collected and analysis can be carried out and baselines be set.

There is often a gate review within the measure phase – this usually includes a review of the process map, data/measures, a capability review and an updated project charter/initiation document.

  1. Current state map (often a value stream map)
  2. Accurate data on important inputs/outputs – used for analyzing process flows, defects etc.
  3. Baseline measures of process capability against expectations.


Key Steps

This step in the process determines the root causes of issues and presents improvement opportunities.

Part of the process is to analyze value add and non value add activity within the process. Using the process maps/Value stream maps produced during the Measure DMAIC phase – the team looks for bottlenecks/constraints and where errors occur. There are a variety of tools available for this such as Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

After identifying the problems provide supporting evidence by generating theories as to why they occur (note this may require supporting further data).


  • Evidence of root causes
  • Supporting analysis and evidence (e.g. value add analysis)
  • Updated Project Charter/Initiation document.


Steps and deliverables

The main deliverable from the Improve step is a solution(s) that affects the proven issues/problems (found earlier in the DMAIC process) affecting the business. Once deployed the solution should be stable and meet customer requirements

The first step is to develop possible solutions – there are a variety of ways of doing this and it’s likely that at first several solutions may present themselves while methods exist for improving, commonly project teams will brainstorm ideas based upon the “as is” process/value stream map and statistical data that has been collected – change agent teams are therefore required to evaluate possible ideas and develop the most suitable solution, often this is initiated via a “to be” process or value stream map – developing criteria that the solution must meet (e.g. critical quality requirements, customer needs etc) whilst removing the original problem areas. (this is important to remember that the chosen improvement must tackle the project goal!).

It’s common that once developed solutions may undergo pilot studies or experiments to ensure the optimal “fix” is selected. Once a solution has been selected a robust implementation plan will be required and a re-assessment of the Project charter will need to take place to ensure that the way forward


Steps and deliverables

The Control phase usually sees the full scale deployment of the solution developed earlier in the DMAIC method. As such the main role of the project team is to transition the business to the new process. This can be a resource heavy part of the process with tasks such as training users, writing and deploying business critical documentation to ensure a smooth delivery.

Project teams should consider auditing the process following deployment and confirm that the solution has met the goal of the project sponsor and/or business case – due consideration should be given to the length of time following roll out that the audit takes place in most businesses it will be at least 6 months until this takes place.

When developing the transition plan pay particular attention to ensuring that a proper hand-over occurs – don’t make the mistake of thinking that a “five minute” handover will do – take the time to ensure that appropriate stakeholders have what they need to operate the revised process..

The key deliverables of this phase are:

  • Documented transition back handing back the solution to the business owner
  • Key Performance Indicators/Measures deployed
  • Training, documents (including the business management system e.g. processes maps)



Written by dinh

December 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Business, Process

Tagged with ,

Integration Definition for Function Modeling

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IDEF0 Diagram Example

IDEF0 Diagram Example

IDEF0 is a function modeling methodology for describing manufacturing functions, which offers a functional modeling language for the analysis, development, reengineering, and integration of information systems; business processes; or software engineering analysis.

It is build on the functional modeling language SADT

IDEF0 may be used to model a wide variety of automated and non-automated systems:

  • For new systems, it may be used first to define the requirements and specify the functions, and then to design an implementation that meets the requirements and performs the functions.
  • For existing systems, IDEF0 can be used to analyze the functions the system performs and to record the mechanisms (means) by which these are done. The result of applying IDEF0 to a system is a model that consists of a hierarchical series of diagrams, text, and glossary cross-referenced to each other. The two primary modeling components are functions (represented on a diagram by boxes) and the data and objects that inter-relate those functions (represented by arrows)

More on Wikipedia

Written by dinh

December 7, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Structured Analysis and Design Technique

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Decomposition Structure

Decomposition Structure

What is it good for ?

  • to define user needs for IT developments (which is very used in the industrial Information Systems)
  • to explain and to present an activity’s manufacturing processes, procedure


SADT uses two types of diagrams: activity models and data models. It uses arrows to build these diagrams. The SADT’s representation is the following:

  • A main box where the name of the process or the action is specified
  • On the left-hand side of this box, incoming arrows: inputs of the action.
  • On the upper part, the incoming arrows: data necessary for the action.
  • On the bottom of the box, incoming arrows: means used for the action.
  • On the right-hand side of the box, outgoing arrows: outputs of the action.

The semantics of arrows for activities:

  • Inputs enter from the left and represent data or consumables that are needed by the activity.
  • Outputs exit from the right and represent data or products that are produced by the activity.
  • Controls enter from the top and represent commands which influence the execution of an activity but are not consumed.
  • Mechanisms identify the means, components or tools used to accomplish the activity. Represents allocation of activities.

The semantics of arrows for data:

  • Inputs are activities that produce the data.
  • Outputs consume the data.
  • Controls influence the internal state of the data

Written by dinh

December 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Flowchart

Tagged with ,


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A flowchart is a common type of diagram, that represents an algorithm or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting these with arrows. Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields


A typical flowchart from older Computer Science textbooks may have the following kinds of symbols:

Start and end symbols

  • Represented as circles, ovals or rounded rectangles, usually containing the word “Start” or “End”, or another phrase signaling the start or end of a process, such as “submit enquiry” or “receive product”.


  • Showing what’s called “flow of control” in computer science. An arrow coming from one symbol and ending at another symbol represents that control passes to the symbol the arrow points to.

Processing steps

  • Represented as rectangles. Examples: “Add 1 to X”; “replace identified part”; “save changes” or similar.


  • Represented as a parallelogram. Examples: Get X from the user; display X.

Conditional or decision

  • Represented as a diamond (rhombus). These typically contain a Yes/No question or True/False test. This symbol is unique in that it has two arrows coming out of it, usually from the bottom point and right point, one corresponding to Yes or True, and one corresponding to No or False. The arrows should always be labeled. More than two arrows can be used, but this is normally a clear indicator that a complex decision is being taken, in which case it may need to be broken-down further, or replaced with the “pre-defined process” symbol.

A number of other symbols that have less universal currency, such as:

  • A Document represented as a rectangle with a wavy base;
  • A Manual input represented by parallelogram, with the top irregularly sloping up from left to right. An example would be to signify data-entry from a form;
  • A Manual operation represented by a trapezoid with the longest parallel side at the top, to represent an operation or adjustment to process that can only be made manually.
  • A Data File represented by a cylinder.

Types of flowcharts

Sterneckert (2003) suggested that flowcharts can be modelled from the perspective of different user groups (such as managers, system analysts and clerks) and that there are four general types:

  • Document flowcharts, showing controls over a document-flow through a system
  • Data flowcharts, showing controls over a data flows in a system
  • System flowcharts showing controls at a physical or resource level
  • Program flowchart, showing the controls in a program within a system

Example of flowchart :

Information Management- Help Desk

Information Management- Help Desk

More on Wikipedia

Advanced flowchart

Written by dinh

December 7, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Business, Flowchart

Business Process Modeling Notation

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Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a workflow.

Example :

Other examples :


A process with a normal flow

Discussion cycle

Discussion cycle

Email voting process

E-mail voting process

Collect votes

Collect votes

More about BPMN on Wikipedia

Retour d’experience BMPN

Bruce Silver blog

Written by dinh

December 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Testing PHP/Web Applications with PHPUnit and Selenium

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Written by dinh

October 12, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The power of refactoring

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Written by dinh

March 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm