'Passionate' Corporate Training for Process Improvement
In businesses as technical as those in which Applied Biosystems is a major player, process improvement is an intense, ongoing activity- and Data Desk and ActivStats have important roles in the company’s self-scrutiny.
Jack Gomes heads up Global Quality for Applied Biosystems, where he is responsible for maintaining and monitoring the company’s certification status and for external audits of the company’s operations. "My passion," he says, “is data analysis. I could spend 8 hours a day on data analysis.” Recently, however, he became aware that not everyone in his very technically inclined company shared his passion. In fact, many of his colleagues were not really comfortable with statistics. It seemed to Jack that the most effective quality improvement measure he could take was to create a broader base of statistics expertise throughout the company. "We run some big, expensive experiments, and it’s important to get the most complete possible understanding of the data these projects generate."
Enter Data Desk and ActivStats.
Jack has developed a course in statistics for about 60 staff members based in the company’s Foster City, California, Framingham, Massachusetts and Singapore offices. The students are engineers, scientists, and managers. They meet every two or three weeks over several months, and the use the time between training sessions and textbook discussion for self-paced learning with ActivStats and hands-on experiences with Data Desk.
This gives Applied Biosystems students a very visual understanding of the data they are working with, and for Jack, graphic power is one of the strongest appeals of both ActivStats and Data Desk. He has used Data Desk to explore data from an experiment that investigates the intensities of fluorescent light in certain liquids. The test runs involved 48 samples of fluids tested over time with numerous readings during a 5-day period. For this analysis he found the sliders and their ability to dynamically change his graphs indispensable.
"I had been using other statistics packages for my own analyses for years. But I think it’s very important—for me, as well as the people I’m teaching—to be able to see how things interact in an analysis." In addition, he said about how the interface in both Data Desk and ActivStats manages variables, "I love being able to just pick things up and move them."
The more Jack’s students "pick things up and move them," the stronger their understanding of the processes and experiments they manage—and the greater the influence of ActivStats and Data Desk on process improvement at Applied Biosystems.
Name: Jack Gomes
Organization: Applied Biosystems
Location: Foster City, California
Version: Data Desk 6.1 and ActivStats; Windows