Design of experiments in the service industry: results from a global survey and directions for further research

Jiju Antony*, Elisabeth Viles, Alexandre Fonseca Torres, Marcelo Machado Fernandes, Elizabeth A. Cudney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to critically evaluate the current status of Design of experiments (DoE) in the service industry or non-manufacturing processes in the manufacturing sector. This involves the identification of critical success factors and challenges in the use of DoE in the context of the service industry as well as the key skills needed for its successful applications.

Design/methodology/approach: In order to identify the critical success factors and challenges, an online survey instrument was developed and distributed across Six Sigma Black Belts (SSBB), Six Sigma Master Black Belts (SSMBB), process improvement champions, continuous improvement professionals, DoE experts and specialists as well as academics who are involved in DoE research and applications.

Findings: A total of 109 participants from over 20 countries responded to the study. One of the first findings of the study is that over 40% of the process improvement professionals in the service sector do not have any hands-on experience with the application of DoE. Further, this study highlights the following critical factors for successful DoE applications: dedicating adequate resources in terms of time, budget and people for the experiment; getting a clear understanding of the problem at hand; securing a reliable and validated measurement system for measuring the response or quality characteristics of interest; and identifying input independent variables, which influence the quality characteristics during the brainstorming stage. Some respondents also mention the importance of having training or education in DoE as a critical success factor. At the same time, the lack of adequate planning to experimentation, mathematical knowledge and statistical reasoning remains as challenge to be solved.

Research limitations/implications: As data were collected at an individual level, inter-reliability, which measures the consistency of judgements on a particular survey item, could not be gauged. Moreover, due to low sample size across some continents, an intercontinental comparative study on the extent of the application of DoE across various continents could not be performed.

Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first global survey carried out to understand the status of DoE in the service industry. The results of the global study can be used to encourage quality, continuous improvement and process improvement professionals in the service sector to drive wider acceptance of one of the most powerful tools in the Six Sigma toolkit for problem-solving scenarios. Moreover, senior managers in the service industry can take away some of the key benefits, challenges and success factors in the implementation of DoE.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTQM Journal
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2020


  • Design of experiments
  • Global survey
  • Service industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Design of experiments in the service industry: results from a global survey and directions for further research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this