Here are some tips on how to get the most out of using the Minitab software package within a process improvement project.

But firstly, what is Minitab?

For the business improvement professional, Minitab is a tool that helps analyse process data. It brings together the graphical and statistical tools that you will need to understand what your data can tell you about your process.

At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that data analysis is just one part of the process improvement toolkit. It should be used in conjunction with process analysis tools such as process mapping, value stream mapping, brainstorming and fishbone diagrams. Together, data analysis and process analysis tools will help you understand your process behaves, and more importantly how to improve and control it.

Some hints and tips for getting the most out of Minitab:

1) Collect the right data, and structure it in the right way.

Before you start analysing data, you need to make sure that it’s good quality data, and that it represents what you think it does. Your data should include both inputs and outputs to the process, and you should have verified its quality through the use of Operational Definitions and Measurement System Analysis (MSA) techniques.

Structuring your data into columns will also make it quicker and easier to analyse it using Minitab.

2) Spend some time thinking about what you want to understand or investigate, before opening Minitab.

It’s easy to open Minitab and start creating graphs, without really thinking about what you’re looking for. Start by making some notes about:

  • what data you want to look at?
  • what tools (graphical or statistical) will you use?
  • is there anything in particular you expect to find or verify?

This will help focus your data analysis.

3) Make notes as you go, to summarise your findings.

After just a few minutes with Minitab, it’s possible to create a lot of graphical and statistical output. It’s also easy to get a little confused about what it’s all telling you! So:

  • Take things slowly
  • Make notes as you go
  • If you find a particularly useful graph or statistical result, copy it to a separate place (such as Minitab’s ReportPad or a PowerPoint presentation) and make notes alongside it.