When working on a Six Sigma project, once you’ve obtained the voice of the customer, or other stakeholder, you’ll have a list of items that they say are important to them. But how important are they compared to one another? This question must be answered because you’ll want to devote more resources to the more important items.
We can answer this question using a technique called the Analytic Hierarchical Process, or AHP. AHP will provide quantitative weights to tell you the relative importance of each item so you can plan accordingly. Unlike arbitrary weights such as rankings, the weights you get using AHP can be used to help you determine which parts of your process will have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.
What Is Analytic Hierarchical Process (AHP)?
AHP asks people to compare items in pairs, which is a relatively easy thing for people to do. By mathematically manipulating these pairwise comparisons, AHP arrives at a weight for every importance item. The total of all of the weights adds up to 100%, which makes it easy to compare the weights to one another. For example, by asking a person to compare price to reliability, price to mileage, and reliability to mileage, AHP might calculate that a customer uses the weights shown when considering which automobile to purchase.
Why Is AHP Important?
AHP weights are ratio scale weights. Ratio scale numbers can be mathematically manipulated using addition, multiplication and so on. With AHP we can say something about how much more important A is than B. Most other schemes for obtaining importance weights produce results that are on a less powerful scale of measurement called an ordinal scale. Ordinal scale numbers can only be compared to one another, for example, you can say that A is more important than B, but you can’t say how much more important A is than B.
Below is an AHP tool in a worksheet that you use to calculate importance weights for critical customer criteria.
If you are interested in AHP and would like to learn how to apply it in your Six Sigma project, please contact the Pyzdek Institute using the this form!