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Streamline Technology Implementation With Six Sigma

Follow the Six Sigma DMAIC process, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, to improve the efficiency of technology implementation at your institution.

In part one, we introduced Six Sigma, which is a set of tools to eliminate defects in production and errors in administration. Six Sigma quickly expanded in many industries thanks to success with manufacturing and technology companies such as Motorola and General Electric. 

In part two of this three-part series, we’ll discuss:

  • Steps to implementing Six Sigma
  • What you need to implement Six Sigma 
  • How Six Sigma Streamlines the Process of Implementing Technology
We’ll use an especially relevant and timely example in higher education:

implementing technology for online proctoring across an institution.

This example is relevant because many universities and colleges were forced to move their educational programs to an entirely online learning format due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

With the sudden move to virtual learning, institutions realized that they needed a way to protect the academic integrity of their online exams and they needed it fast.

Luckily, with a streamlined six sigma implementation process, schools were able apply online proctoring technology in as little as two days. Here’s how the Six Sigma DMAIC process can help streamline any technology implementation at your institution.

Steps to Six Sigma Implementation

Applying Six Sigma starts with the addressing problems and helps your team identify the kind of project that will solve or mitigate that problem. Your team should follow the Six Sigma DMAIC process, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. 

Six Sigma DMAIC Chart

Let’s look at each phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC process in further detail:

The first phase of DMAIC is to define the problems.
By specifically defining the problem, you improve your chances of successfully delivering on your mission to improve quality and save costs. At this stage, you may use process maps and set out what improvements you seek and/or what benefits you will accrue from the project. In the academic world, identifying the problem is crucial.

Example: As previously described, one problem that quickly cropped up for many schools in March 2020 was how to quickly transition to a fully online learning format and prevent academic dishonesty on their online exams. Institutions had concerns that cheating would increase in an online exam environment. They knew that in an unproctored testing environment, students could easily search for test questions and answers, refer to their notes, and share exam questions with other students.

Once you’ve defined the problems, you need to measure and collect relevant data about them.

Example: the institution defined the problems they face with the transition to a fully online learning environment and the vulnerability of their online exams without online proctoring.

Now, the institution can collect data on relevant questions such as:
  • How many total courses will be online?
  • How many of the courses require online proctored exams?
  • How many students will be taking proctored online exams?
  • What is the average length of time for an online exam?
  • How long does it take to review an exam and submit the results?
  • How can we integrate online proctoring with our existing LMS?
  • What are the pros and cons of our current online exam proctoring system?

Schools will be able to gather the appropriate data in short order, as most of these are common statistics known to the deans of each faculty and the registrar’s offices. 

If you already have online proctoring software in place but you’re evaluating a new online proctoring system, gather data on the benefits and the complaints you’ve received from faculty and students about the current system. Then, categorize the number and type of benefits and complaints in order to efficiently review and prioritize.

During the Measurement phase, Dr. Jill Simpson of the University of North Alabama College of Business, held focus groups with faculty and students about their experience with online proctoring systems to determine their needs.

Once you’ve gathered your data, it’s time to analyze it to identify the primary causes of the problems.

Example: After Dr. Simpson conducted the focus groups, she analyzed the data and identified the root causes of the problems for both faculty and students.

In this phase, you’re testing solutions to fix and repair problems. The goal is to find permanent solutions to improve the problems you’ve identified.

Example: Faculty would test the online proctoring system to address any deficiencies and improvements and then provide feedback based on their experiences.

Once you’ve made the improvements, you want to control the original problem to ensure that it does not come back. Do so by institutionalizing the improved procedures and technologies and continue to monitor and document the continued success.

Example: In this case, the university implements the online proctoring system and creates procedures, strategies, and documentation to ensure ongoing success and use. The institution should continually monitor the effectiveness of the online proctoring system by collecting relevant data such as student performance on the proctored online exams and overall feedback, and make adjustments to adapt to the changing needs.

What Do You Need to Implement Six Sigma?

Researchers have learned that making the best use of Six Sigma requires focusing on a small number of key performance drivers. To make it all work, you need the following components:
Senior leadership’s full buy-in
They should be trained on the philosophy and principles behind the tools that will assist in implementation. They will take steps to manage the positive change in the institution and encourage a culture of creativity and innovation. Quality improvement teams include both executives and supporting administrators.
Establish communication with stakeholders
The establishment of open and close communication with students, faculty, and other stakeholders. Develop rigorous and replicable methods of obtaining and evaluating everyone’s relevant input.
Create a formal training process
A formalized training process for all stakeholders who will be doing things the new way. One of the benefits of Honorlock is how easy it is for students to work with and what minimal demands it places on faculty members. Still, as with any new system, good training results in smooth implementation.
Develop a standardized Six Sigma framework
Development of a standardized Six Sigma framework for continuous improvement. Make sure you answer your progress questions, “How can we tell that we’re improving?”, “What are our Key Performance Indicators?”, “What does success look like?”

Streamline Online Proctoring Implementation

Research shows that institutions that successfully implement Six Sigma perform better in virtually every category. With thoughtful concern for the ways in which everyone can do their jobs better and more efficiently, universities can streamline technology onboarding, increase enrollments, improve fundraising, control costs, better engage faculty and staff, and, ultimately, improve students’ learning experience. 

Honorlock online proctoring has many similarities with Six Sigma’s methodology because it provides faculty with the ability to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control their proctored online exams.

In the third and final part of this series, we’ll show you that Honorlock online proctoring and Six Sigma have more in common than you think. We’ll show you features and functionality that will define, measure, analyze, improve and control your online exams.

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