Technique 52

Measurement Systems Analysis

Make sure you know your measurements are valid.


Measurement systems analysis (MSA) assesses your ability to accurately and precisely measure your innovative solution. For instance, if you're designing a device that detects the presence of airborne biohazards, you need to be sure that the device performs accurately and consistently over time. An MSA would help you identify and reduce variation both in the manufacturing process and in the device itself.

Even when it's not a life-or-death situation, variation leads to customer dissatisfaction and the inability to reliably fulfill Functional Requirements (see Technique 33). As you near the completion of your innovative solution design, you can use MSA to identify and correct measurement system error, resulting in a higher quality, more reliable design. To be successful with MSA, you will need some experience with statistics.


Measurement systems analysis starts with translating customer and process requirements into metrics (measurable outcomes). These metrics can be based on subjective qualitative data (taste, appearance, etc.), or objective quantitative data (e.g., seconds, number of defects). The type of data determines the type of MSA:

  • An Attribute MSA evaluates qualitative data for accuracy (the percentage of agreement with a known standard) and precision (how often the people or systems taking measurements agree with themselves and each other).
  • A Variable MSA evaluates quantitative ...

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