There are not enough examples of using six sigma mathod. This is one, that might help you embeding lean six sigma methodology in IT department.
this article covers:
- Six Sigma DMAIC in IT
- Problem definition – first steps
- DMAIC – Measure phase
- Analyze phase in IT process
- Improving phase in this project
- DMAIC – control phase
- Key takeaways about Six Sigma DMAIC
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Six Sigma DMAIC in IT
IT Mania company is facing growth of their business, which is customers support. Company monitor and provides different software upgrades, and control hardware functions. But most importantly, it is resolving, and addressing different issues – the help desk.
There are several new customers joined IT Mania in last 4 months. This is great for the company future, but team have realized, that there are some challenges coming with this growth.
Jannie is working for the company over 16 years. She has lots of experiences from different positions she went through. Now as a leader of help desk team, she has realized, that response time for resolving problems has increased. There are some customers feedbacks showing decreasing satisfaction. She needed to know, what is todays reality, and what they can do to improve it.
Download DMAIC tools list, I suggest allways to follow.
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Problem definition – first steps
Jannie has identified team of 5 people, that will help with improvement effort. They will use DMAIC method, Jannie studied recently.
First step was to understand what is current state reality. Time from request beginning to its successful termination is 8.5 working days in average. Maximum time for resolving problem is 22 days. These data are acquired from last 4 months of operations, with new customers. Resolution time for 6 months prior new customers, was 3 days. With maximum resolution 10 days. Room for improvement is obvious. Jannies team goal is to get at least to numbers prior the growth.
IT Mania headquarters expectations are to improve, but with less new hires as possible. Reason is simple, the office constrains. There are just a few free tables available.
DMAIC – Measure phase
There are about 300 different requests for 10 different softwares required to be addressed every day. About 50 new tickets are raised during weekends. This is a backlog, that starts to be processed on Monday. Backlog of new tasks is creating wave of not resolved customers issues, influencing average resolution time.
Existing process review by using process map, explored team members different approaches for resolving problems. Some customers use direct calls to particular helpdesk person. Official way to contact support team is by using online ticket request. Information about addressed issues are lost, by bypassing official way. Help desk person is utilizing its time on not monitored activities. However, customers are happier, because response to their problem is immediate.
Problem with online ticket is, that there are not enough information describing the problem. This is causing, that incorrect solution team starts to work on the problem. After more detailed clarification, hands off to another resolution team is needed to be done. This creates another huge delays in solving issues.
This process behaviors were used for last few years. It was manageable, but overtimes were required sometimes. With supporting other new customers overtimes, and chaos raised tremendously.
Analyze phase in IT process
Team have described how new, the ideal process should look like. It is important, that as much as help desk requests goes official way. Direct calls were banned, and this new regulation communicated to all customers. However, new process set up allowed to choose urgency level.
There are 3 urgency levels aligned with reaction time. Normal urgency expected reaction is within 24 hours: Middle urgency within 12 hours. Highest urgency expected reaction within 1 hour. Different urgency levels are priced differently, and invoiced by end of the month. If customer calls support directly, it is considered as highest urgency reaction. Helpdesk person creates ticket instead of the customer, in this case.
Improving phase in this project
Online ticket form was reviewed. Important fields were discussed and identified by different support teams. Delays caused by improper problem description was reduced from initial 20% to 1%, by proper problem description and sufficient information in the ticket. This simple action have improved reaction time by 3 days.
Future state process map was supported by guidance notes. All team members were trained to follow instructions. Cross trainings between teams program was launched too. It was important to have broader knowledge about different programs and its issues.
Unified way of addressing issues, and cross training brought powerful improvement to whole process of customer care. It was less and less necessary to redirect customer to other resolution team. It was obvious in resolution time results. 8 days maximum and average resolution within 2 days made customers very satisfied. This great results were reached in first quarter after project accomplishment.
Here is a link to download project charter template for your usage, with the brief description of each section. You are free to share and distribute this list.
I do videos, blog posts, and all templates for free, in my free time. I will appreciate if you can donate me a cup of cofee, for more energy in my creation. (1 dollar donation counts, too 😉 Click on this link: I would like to support Erik in his effort
DMAIC – Control phase
Training program for new hires was also developed. It is crucial to make all new people work official way, for sustaining of the new process.
Manpower capacities calculation was done too. It was done based on real data. All discrepancies, people average un-efficiencies were incorporated in this calculation too. This is a great tool for future manpower capacities prediction. 1 new hire for each shift was required after capacities revision.
Helpdesk tickets created during the weekend ware addressed by a special program. 2 people of the team members required to be present at work during weekends. Each person from the team, including managers spend 1 weekend in one year quarter by solving customer issues. Overtimes were fully paid, or employees could pick 2 days off during following week. No other overtimes were needed.
This reduced backlog of opened issues to 10%, which was easily manageable.
95% of the time I do not use it, at all. I do not like statistics. I do not like collecting data. Yes, there is a measure and analyze phase. But it only sounds terrible. In our example, cooks were able to drive changes. And they used watches to measure, and logic, that told them where to improve.
Key takeaways about Six Sigma DMAIC:
- It is a robust process improvement method
- It is a team effort on not obvious problem reason resolution
- There are 5 phases – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control
- Improvement targeted based on data analysis
- Reduces variation in processes, in other words , repeatability is improved
- First understand current problems and pains to enable improvement changes
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Yours sincerely Erik.