What is Minitab?
Minitab is a suite of products that include Minitab Express, Minitab 17, Quality Trainer, Qeystone, and Quality Companion. Perhaps expansive is the word we can use to describe this app. You might not know it but you could be using a tool or device developed using the Minitab statistical software. In fact, over 4,000 educational institutions across the globe, along with 9 in 10 of Fortune 500 companies, only trust Minitab for their own organizations. That’s a lot of pedigree for a product.
The software was originally designed to be used by Six Sigma practitioners. You do need a certification—which can be secured by passing a proficiency test in both theoretical and practical application–before you can be called a Six Sigma professional. The term Six Sigma has become the byword for businesses nowadays. This refers to a set of methodologies and tests that will gauge a company’s efficiency, wastage, gaps and weaknesses, strengths, and processes. For instance, the benchmark of efficiency is to not go beyond 3.4 defects for every million opportunities.
How does Minitab figure into all these?
The platform is a powerful data-driven tool to measure process capability. It will also help organizations streamline and organize their workflow, explore and analyze their data, and come up with strategies to boost productivity and efficiency. All the necessary statistical models are preloaded and the platform will automatically use the right tool for the task at hand.
For instance, you have:
- Basic Statistics
- Descriptive Statistics
- Correlation and Covariance
- Normality and Outlier Test
- Linear and Nonlinear Regression
- Binary, Nominal, Ordinal Regression
- Analysis of Variance
- Response Prediction or Optimization
- Analysis of Means
- Distribution Analysis (Parametric and Non-parametric)
- Principal Component Analysis
- Time Series and Forecasting
- Equivalence Test
- One-Way ANOVA
- Random Number Generator
- Random Sampling
- Probability Density
- Discriminant Analysis
While Excel is probably more responsive because it’s more dynamic compared to the fixed worksheets of the Minitab, you do have to do more in Excel when you are doing complex math. For instance, you have to input the data, the mathematical formula, and finally the equation. Not to mention that you have to input the raw data, as well. However, Minitab comes preloaded with all functions, statistical model, algorithms and other mathematical equations. The only thing needed from you is to input the raw data and the app will do all the calculations for you.
Nevertheless, when you can right down to it, all the statistical software products in the market today serve the same functionality and purpose. What that means is that they really deliver on what they are advertising. You can’t say that Minitab is better compared to SPSS, for instance. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.
The beauty of the Minitab is that you don’t have to be a statistician in order to use it effectively. In fact, it’s designed to accommodate the users who are not so good with the numbers. That’s probably its main advantage over the Excel worksheet. The Help feature is a good feedback mechanism so you understand the results better.
One good thing about this product is that it’s extremely flexible. The drop-down menus and buttons are easy to follow so even the novice will be able to understand its functions and features with a little bit of use. In fact, education institutions are using this product to teach students basic and advanced statistics. The regulatory compliance feature of Minitab ensures the accuracy and integrity of data. You also ensure that for reporting purposes to government regulatory agencies, you will meet the minimum requirements for compliance.
For instance, the Minitab Software Validation Kit is crucial for businesses that need to comply with the requirements of the FDA. Although the software is an accepted platform by almost all regulatory agencies, it’s incorporated in the documents the necessary information on the testing procedures employed by the software. This will lessen the time justifying the values and data that you submit to the regulatory agency for approval.
The Minitab will give you great flexibility in managing several graphs simultaneously. In large groupings, a task would require multiple graphs, figures, and values to support the data. While the Excel is an excellent product to store the graphs in the spreadsheet, it’s somewhat restricted when you need to go deeper into the numbers.
On those tasks, you may end up creating 50, 100, or 200 graphs. Sorting and organizing them via the Excel Worksheet would be a challenge because the app is limited in that sense. And say, or instance, that you need to edit some of the values in the graph and wanted to make comparisons between the results?
One thing is clear: going through all those numbers will have one result—clutter.
Minitab introduces the Project Manager feature that will allow you to juggle graphs and worksheets easily. Each of the reports is sorted and classified so you can just pull it out when you need it.
- You can track your processes and test their stability
- You can lessen the risks and threats
- You can evaluate your systems and how they stack up against known benchmarks
- This is probably the most affordable alternative to the Microsoft Suite
- The features are not as sophisticated and all-encompassing as SAS or SPSS
- The Minitab worksheet is more troublesome compared to Excel
- Somewhat limited to statistics
The latest iteration of the Minitab is quicker compared to its predecessor. This means you can load your excel worksheets into the platform faster. There’s also the quick access to the DMAIC or the Define Measure Analyze Improve Control methodology. You just go to the Tools and then click on Manage Profiles and click the DMAIC profile, and that’s it. The DMAIC, of course, is a crucial part of the Six Sigma benchmarking.
Here’s a quick rundown of the DMAIC:
Defining the problem – This involves setting up your goals, looking at the strengths and gaps, identifying the goals and the customers.
Measuring process performance – This means exactly as it sounds. With a list of statistical and measurement tools, you can appraise the value of your processes.
Analyzing the process – This allows the user to identify the weaknesses and defects of the processes.
Improving the system – Now that you understand the gaps, you can then find ways on how to plug the hold or enhance your strengths in order to improve your performance.
Controlling future performance – With all the data at your disposal, you can then predict future performance and find ways to lessen the chance of the relapsing.
Smart Data Import – You can change mismatches in cases, fill in missing data, eliminate the extra spaces, justify column lengths, correct incompatibilities in documents and spreadsheets.
Smart Data Export – No time to make a presentation? The data, graphs, statistics, and other information can easily be exported to the PowerPoint, Excel Sheet or Microsoft Word immediately. You can then present the results to the team members or your project manager.
Automatic Graph Updating – There’s no need to make new graphs when you have to update the numbers and values. Simply input the data or edit the numbers and the graphs will be updated automatically.
Assistant Menu – This feature will allow you to toggle between the six major quality improvement tools. You have the graphing, regression, hypothesis tests, control charting, capability analysis, and measurement systems analysis. Once you click on the tool, the Assistant feature will do all the heavy lifting for you. Even if you don’t know what you are trying to do, the Assistant will ask the right questions to help narrow down your focus. Once you have your goal in mind, the Assistant will then lead you to the right tool to do the job right.
Quality Trainer – The Quality Trainer feature, which is free for the multi-user package, will guide you through the whole step of measuring and assessing the derived stats. You can study and review the figures anytime, as long as you have an Internet connection.
Here are some of the features of Minitab that can be of use to the end-clients:
- Audit Management
- Document Management
- Compliance Management
- Knowledge Management
- Testing Management
- Training Management
- Maintenance Management
- Corrective Actions
- Defect Tracking
- Nonconformance Tracking
- Feedback Tracking
- ISO Standards Management
- Incident Management
- Risk Management
- Supplier Quality Control
For the Data Analysis Features, the values are:
- High Volume Processing
- Sentiment Analysis
- Data Discovery
- Predictive Analytics
- Data Visualization
- Statistical Modeling
- Regression Analysis
- Text Analytics
For the Statistical Process Control, the features are:
- Data Entry
- Corrective Actions (CAPA)
- OPC Data Collection
- Performance Metrics
- Data Linking
- Excel Loader
- Data Management
- Real-Time Data Collection
- Regulatory Compliance
- Point-of-Production Analysis
For the Statistical Analysis, the features are:
- Multivariate Analysis
- File Management
- Regression Analysis
- Time Series
- Survival Analysis
- Statistical Process Control
The Minitab has several pricing scales for users to choose from. The licensing permission can be purchased by individual users or through a simultaneous licensing, which will allow you to share the software across different devices or users.
The price packages are as follows:
The single user can pay a one-time payment of $1,595 for any new license or $895 if he wishes to upgrade from the existing software package. Any new releases can be purchased at a discounted price. The user will also get huge discounts if he will purchase two or more products.
The developer has not published the rates for the annual subscription for the multi-user software. This package will give you the authority to install the software on five or more devices to be used by at least five people.
You will also get free upgrades, as well as a discount on further training from a quality trainer.
Again, this is by-quote. The company will take into account the size of the institution, the number of users, and the features that will be customized to match the requirements of the particular academic institution.
- Large Enterprises
- Mid-sized Business
- Small Business
- Freelancers and Entrepreneurs
- One-time payment
The developer offers both email and phone support. But there are also webinars and video tutorials that clients can access so they can familiarize themselves with the product more. Live training allows them to get a step-by-step guide on how to use all the features. They will also get tips and tricks on how to maximize the platform for the benefit of their organization. Meanwhile, downloading video tutorials will give them the flexibility to learn the features on their own time.
The technical support is free throughout the lifespan of the proprietary license.
Minitab also has a large community of enthusiasts who are not related to the company whatsoever. They are in community forums, Facebook or LinkedIn. The advantage of talking to them is you get a real answer, not sugarcoated by a technical support team of the company, which is probably more interested in deodorizing the product in case of a problem.
Being at the forefront of the statistical software sector, Minitab is a proven commodity. The software is very popular and expansive for a reason.
Ultimately, the product that you purchase should be tailored to match your own requirements. You just have to do your due diligence and find one that you are most comfortable with. But that doesn’t answer the final question, however: is Minitab worth your money? The platform is a good product for its value. Simply put, you get what you pay for.