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Six Sigma Metrics

There are many Six Sigma metrics and most are not unique to Six Sigma. There are a few however such as DPMO and RTY that are metrics which are highly associated with Six Sigma

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Another set of less specific metrics that are also highly associated with Six Sigma are the Primary and Secondary metrics.

These metrics are not actually "metrics" but rather aspects of a project that require metrics and thus need to be discussed in the context of "metrics"

Primary Metric

The primary metric is a generic term for a Six Sigma project's most important measure of success. The Primary metric is defined by the Black Belt, GB, MBB or Champion.

A primary metric is an absolute MUST! for any project and it should not be taken lightly. Here are a few characteristics of good primary metrics

  • Primary metrics should be tied to the problem statement & objective
  • Primary metrics should have an operational definition
  • Primary metrics should be measureable, expressed in the form of an equation and simple
  • Primary metrics should be aligned to business objectives
  • Primary metrics should tracked at the proper frequency (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly etc)
  • Primary metrics should be expressed graphically over time with a run chart, time series or control chart
  • Primary metrics should be validated with an MSA

The primary metric is the reason for your work, it's the success indicator, it's your beacon. The primary is of utmost importance and should be improved BUT! not at the expense of your secondary metric.

Secondary Metric

The secondary metric is the thing you don't want sacraficed on behalf of a primary improvement. A secondary metric is one that makes sure problems are not just "changing forms" or "moving around". The secondary metric keeps us honest and ensures we're not sacraficing too much for our primary metric improvement.

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If your Primary Metric is a cost or speed metric then your Secondary Metric should probably be some quality measure

If you were accountable for saving energy in an office building and your primary metric was energy consumption then you could shut off all the lights and the HVAC system and save tons of energy.....except that your secondary metric(s) are probably comfort and functionality of the work environment.

That's an oversimplified example but relevant nontheless, Secondary metrics keep us "honest" and ensure were not cheating to achieve our primary metric improvement

Primary and Secondary metrics are the foundation to any Six Sigma body of work. Be sure to follow the rules above for a good primary metric and be sure to stay focused on ensuring that all projects have rock solid Six Sigma metrics.

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