Optimum Performance from the Top Down and Bottom Up

When working with a client to achieve optimisation of workforce, logistics, or supply chain, Staybil employs a lean, stripped down version of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology in order to discover and implement the right solution. The DMAIC methodology, first developed and made famous by Motorola, is comprised of five crucial steps: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control. When followed faithfully, these steps form a data-driven improvement cycle that can be used to increase the efficiency of business processes.


The purpose of the Define step is to determine the problem statement, goal, project scope, timeline, and resources. This phase is all about understanding the specific needs of the client, and choosing a specific business process that requires improvement. This step is often overlooked by product teams that are rushing to implement technology before truly understanding the problem(s) and can lead to frustration, difficulty measuring success, and wasted effort.


The Measure step requires the project team to establish the baseline efficiency as a basis for improvement. The data gathered here will be compared with new data as the project progresses in order to gauge the improvement effectiveness and ROI. This can be accomplished with benchtop data analysis, workshops, and even including field visits and “ride-alongs” to ensure the nuts and bolts of the business are truly understood.


The Analyse step is about finding the root cause of the problem so that the project team can build a strategy to eliminate or improve it. Many tools are available to assist in this, such as fishbone analysis and 5Whys analysis. Staybil chooses the appropriate method that is lightweight and rapid while also thorough enough to draw out statistically valid conclusions. Typical insights from this process will identify overly complex or highly manual processes, information or systems bottlenecks, or communication gap locations leading to inefficiency.


The Improve step focuses on identifying, implementing, and testing a solution to the problem. The Analyse step should take into account the financial, operational, and other impacts that the defined problems have on the business and the Improve step should then focus on those that have the highest impact and potential ROI. Care should be taken to establish the performance indicators and collect sufficient data to measure whether the improvements are leading to real results. Watch out for ‘vanity metrics’!


The objective of the control step is to ensure that improvement can be maintained by the client well beyond the project’s completion - otherwise known as making the change ‘stick’. This is usually a blend of technology and behaviour change to get the best results. Someone (or an entire team) should be given accountability for keeping control of the changes and reporting the results up the chain routinely.