MC506: Application of Quantitative Methodologies

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Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
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This question is meant to give you a little practice for the final exam question on real-life situations where you would apply some of these tools. Do any of you have an example from work, your readings, or personal life where one or more of these tools could make in impact?

Anita Alston

Using Quantitative methods

Yes, I can understand how these methods are applied in decision-making situations in healthcare management ( my area of employment). I have seen the decision-analysis trees used by our "Decision Support" guy, when he analyzes data from area demographics, in order to project the success of adding a new department of service to our existing medical center services.
I have also seen linear programming (type of) analysis utilized to calculate productivity measures with staffing configurations; ie: given certain nursing staff availability, certain shifts, and projected in-patient census, how can we maximize productivity; same with budget inputs. So, in essence, this course has given me an appreciation of various types of analysis tools.
Thanks, Steve!
Anita Alston

Jamie Morris

Steve Prevette said:
This question is meant to give you a little practice for the final exam question on real-life situations where you would apply some of these tools. Do any of you have an example from work, your readings, or personal life where one or more of these tools could make in impact?
We currently utilize a system in my company called the Problem Evaluation Request system. This is "zero threshold system", which simply means all problems no matter how slight can be input into the system for evaluation. On the whole, the system is certainly very good in regards to getting problems identified and on the table in front of the management team. The obvious problem comes on the analysis side of the PER system. Currently, apparent cause analysis is conducted on problems of minor significance and root cause analysis is required for problems of major significance. So what is the problem? Similar to using moving averages for forecasting, we are doing a tremendous amount of causal analysis on problems that are inherent to the system, better known as common cause variation. This results in the "fire fighter" approach, that Steve mentioned in one of his papers. We are expending significant time, resources, and dollars stamping out the small fires, while the house burns down. This really results in focusing on the wrong issues for causal analysis and corrective action. I am gently trying to move management in the direction of identifying areas of focus for the problem identification system and of using control charts to monitor and trend the data to help us identify the special cause variations in the system. Causal analysis could then be focused in on these areas. Steve, I made need some help from you on determining how to set up these control charts, once I sell the approach to management.


Applying Quantitative Methods

This class has allowed me to gain some insight into methods that can be used not only in business decisions, but at times and to a lesser extend in everyday life. In my current position in Contracts decisions are made everyday as to the best product or service to purchase for the dollar. Decision analysis tools and methods, such as a decision trees, can play a large role in the ability to make those decisions. Likewise in our everyday lives we can use portions of all the methods learned in this course to make those tough decisions, and I believe everyone has this capablilty to use their analysis skills to make the best choices.


Many Applications

I have been awakened! Yes, these methods can be used in many different application areas within my organization. We can can a more specific look at our injury reports based on these methods. We can analyze our customer satisfaction, communicate better and best of all take a better look at how much we should do in-house, contract out, and where we are most efficient.


real life

Terry, I agree - this is helpful to my agency when deciding to contract out for some things or do them in-house. I think the most important thing to realize is that by combining the data and numbers with other information, you can get a more well rounded decision. For example, in my summer weekend job driving the beer cart at our local golf course, to estimate what I will need, I can look the product demand based on the number of golfers, the weather and past sales; yet by finding out who is on the course in advance of heading out, I can revise my inventory numbers based on this and added with the other information, can ensure that I will have enough product and will not run out. This may be a very basic example, but it is relevant to other instances as well.

Mike Moran

Now that is a great spin off of all the things we worked on this quarter. I want to know what the qualifications are for a golf cart beer driver...

Jo-Ann also has a good point, but sometimes cost isn't the best indicator for the purchase. Depending on what it is, the life cycle of the product or ongoing maintenance should also be considered, but it rarely is. Most people want the best deal and suffer the consequences if something goes wrong afterward.

The single largest take away (there are many but this one takes the cake) for me with this course is how real data can be manipulated/averaged/ or whatever you want to call it to look good for the target audience who will look at it and make decisions about it, when in fact the audience should be shaking in their boots. That seems very scary to me and a question of business ethics should be applied for the generators of those data sets (think ENRON) before they are shared.
The counter to the take away is that through this course, I have learned how to look for this and question the data set, which I had never though of before. I would take things at face value. Good lesson learned.
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