Editor’s note: Jim Wells is the Global Quality Manager at Panduit Tool Solutions in Romeoville , Illinois. We approached him on LinkedIn to review EngineRoom. He has no affiliation with MoreSteam.
Executing a Six Sigma project is a daunting task so using the tools should not be. That’s why I think EngineRoom by software development company MoreSteam is a decent bet. The application is straightforward and offers easy to use typical six sigma tools. It runs in Microsoft Excel so any Green Belt and Black Belt could use it to complete an entire project from start to finish.
I originally approached the review of MoreSteam’s EngineRoom application for Excel with some trepidation. I have had previous experience with " home grown" macro based applications for Excel and found them to be difficult to work with and frankly, not very useful. I’m a Master Black Belt and like many others, I am used to using one of the major statistical packages, such as JMP or Minitab, and thought EngineRoom would be too basic for my needs.
What is EngineRoom?
First, a little about EngineRoom. It is a package that embeds in Microsoft Excel and follows the DMAIC format (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, & Control). Several lean tools are included along the way in the appropriate stages where I would expect to apply lean tools based on my past Six Sigma projects.
EngineRoom is NOT a complete compendium of all possible Six Sigma and Lean tools. It is also not a slick sophisticated package that will deliver overworked graphs and every analysis under the sun. EngineRoom gives you the basics needed to get the job done and just a little more. This is my first exposure to EngineRoom so I do not know if it is an improved version over previous ones or in what ways it may be better.
The good, the bad and the ugly
EngineRoom allows the user to quickly start utilizing a particular tool with little setup. The interface to start using an EngineRoom tool is easy to understand and well thought out. It does not require a large investment in time to figure out how to use it, just provide the basic inputs requested and you‘re off.
EngineRoom resides in Microsoft Excel, utilizing Excel’s spreadsheet format to provide places for data to be entered to start the process off and for the results to be shown. EngineRoom can be found on the top menu bar in Excel once it is installed. (See below)
To use EngineRoom, just select the particular phase of project work you want to work in from the menu and a list of available tools shows on the sub-menu.
I started out comparing a couple of the EngineRoom features to their counterparts in Minitab. I first took an Attribute Agreement Assessment that I had recently run in Minitab and copied the data into EngineRoom and ran the analysis (see the setup page below).
At first glance I found some things to criticize. EngineRoom did not deliver the Kappa statistic, only the percent agreements. The percent agreements were slightly off from what Minitab had delivered. However, the output was not significantly different from my Minitab results and had been very easy to set up and run, just fill in a few blanks and away I went.
Data entry was also very easy, exactly the same as in Excel.
Results are instantaneous. Once the data is entered, the results are available on the next tab.
I next took some data that I had run capability analysis on and reran it in EngineRoom. It ran fine but the numbers were slightly off from the original analysis. No problem there, and again, entering the results was easy, just a copy paste operation.
Next I tried out the design scorecard. I was particularly interested in this feature since I am trying to get a design scorecard implemented into my business now. I was disappointed to see that the design scorecard is literally that, just a place to put data and statistics that get calculated somewhere else. I have experienced other Excel based scorecards where the statistics are automatically calculated once the mean and standard deviation plus specifications are entered. I did not find the scorecard to be particularly useful.
I continued to check out the other tools in EngineRoom and as I did, I started to realize something. EngineRoom may not be as accurate as Minitab and the graphing options may not be as slick, and the variety of statistical output may not be as good but EngineRoom has something going for it that Minitab or Jump do not. No learning curve.
One of the hardest parts of becoming a Green Belt and Black Belt is learning the stats package. Many companies offer a complete course just on the statistical package. Even when you have learned the basics, there are so many features that it takes years to become proficient at these packages and even then, the typical Black Belt does not use most of the features available. With EngineRoom, a Green Belt can open up Excel and jump right into their project and get started right away.
Need to do a Pareto analysis of your baseline issues reported? Three clicks and it's done.
Need to do a SIPOC diagram of your process? Two clicks and you’ re there.
Need to plan and execute a Design of Experiments. EngineRoom has a wizard to help you through it.
The bottom line is if you know Excel, you can begin using EngineRoom right away.
I went on with my review, checking out the QFD (Quality Function Deployment) tool, and Value Stream Map in the Define section, (See Below)
Checksheet and Sample Size Calculator in Measure, Design of Experiments and Simple Regression in Analyze, A3 report, FMEA, and Monte Carlo in Improve and Control Plan in Control. The more I reviewed these tools, the more impressed I became with how straightforward and easy EngineRoom is to set up and use right out of the box. Using EngineRoom gives a Green or Black Belt a great advantage by removing the obstacles associated with becoming effective at using the statistics package.
EngineRoom makes problem solving easier by making the tools simpler to use. I would not have considered purchasing this product at the start of the review, now I consider the $195 price tag to be quite a bargain for what you get and I'm even considering purchasing MoreSteam’s EngineRoom for my team.