Although Lean thinking and techniques are generally recognised as being very effective, they are not perfect and one of the common issues raised with regard to lean projects is that the constant analysis and planning/measuring etc can be labour intensive.
So increasingly organisations who are implementing Lean projects are looking for technological solutions to the issue of speeding up the analytical process and increasingly companies such as Minitab Inc are coming up with statistical analysis as well as process improvement tools in the form of software, to ensure that time and labour are saved and that the analytical process in itself is Lean and without waste.
How Does Minitab Work?
Minitab has a range of technological solutions, but the most commonly used software by Lean practitioners is the
Quality Comparison and Statistical Software which integrate with Lean programmes. Theses enable Lean practitioners to organise and then execute and track programmes.
In turn this enables those involved in delivering the project to deliver quality time after time, with seriously low defect rates. It also speeds up the processes involved and ensures that all the Lean processes are carried out with no waste and with greater efficiency, so there is a strong preference for using Minitab, within the field of Lean.
Although historically there have been some problems identified in using Minitab in the sense of the data being overwhelming, simply because of the amount of data provided, that situation has been alleviated.
Six Sigma practitioners have now developed a rigorous investigative methodology that is carried out on a step by step basis, to allow the team to identify the root cause of a problem in a way that is systematic and to a large extent, fool proof.
Thus the Minitab software is the effective tool in terms of statistical analysis, but the methodology acts as a means of ensuring that the analysis is applied in a useful manner that in itself is not wasteful.
Some of the components of software such as Quality 3 have actually been designed with Six Sigma and Lean in mind. So this means that the tasks that historically have taken some time, such as Value Stream Mapping are much easier to do, when using software such as Minitab.
Since the software is designed for various aspects of a Lean project, it can accommodate those needs rather easily, as opposed to using other software that was not designed for use within Lean. So the processes involved in all aspects of a Lean project become much more straightforward.
Currently there is a strong relationship between Minitab and the philosophy of Lean. However, there is a strong possibility that other companies may wish to take over the role of Minitab within Lean and Six Sigma, so it no longer retains its position of supremacy.
On the other hand, the tools it can provide, tailor made for Lean and Six Sigma do make it a very powerful tool when it comes to implementing Lean projects.
It has also learned from experiences to date and has updated its software and products to take account of what clients and customers felt about the efficacy of their products. In turn this has consolidated its position as a market leader within this field.
It also means that there are a number of Six Sigma and Lean practitioners who are keen to train other people in how to use Minitab to their best advantage, so there is definitely a positive relationship between the two and this is likely to simply grow in the future.