What are the criteria for choosing projects in Six Sigma?
Six Sigma projects fail or are abandoned for several different reasons. One reason is that participants don't value the project and can't see the importance it holds.Along the same lines, if a sponsor doesn't push for project completion, there is no real connection to the project and no desire to make it successful.Another reason is that the process is performing inadequately.In other words, the project problem is not what it was initially thought to be.Also, projects are often abandoned when it is discovered that the process being worked on is also being addressed by another team.Another factor contributing to abandonment is that the team finds it too difficult to measure the process.
Lack of pre-work and adequate prioritizing are huge factors in leading to project abandonment.It is difficult to identify projects, but by following certain criteria, you can bypass some of these difficulties.Properly defined Six Sigma projects meet these criteria:
1. They are clearly defined.This is done in the project charter; a formal document that will become part of the project plan and is issued by the project sponsor.
2. They are approved by management.
3. They are reasonable in size.Large projects tend to become unmanageable and small projects tend to be seen as unimportant or uninteresting.
4. They relate directly to the organization's mission. The project charter should include a statement indicating the mission of the project team and linking the project to the larger organization's mission. The mission statements of various teams should identify the boundaries between them.
Obtaining a charter requires a six step chartering process.This must be accomplished at a high level with involvement from project sponsors, senior management, and Six Sigma coaches among others.As the project proceeds, the project team will have to refine and elaborate on each of the following items which will require frequent communication with the project sponsor because these revisions must be documented and approved.The six steps of the chartering process are:
1. Obtain a problem statement. The problem statement answers the question "Why is it essential that this project be done now?" It should be specific enough to help the team identify the project's scope and major stakeholders.This statement should be in writing.
2. Identify the principal stakeholders.
3. Create a macro flowchart of the process.
4. Select the team members. Huge projects should be broken down into smaller projects before assigning them to Six Sigma teams.
5. Identify the training to be received by the team.
6. Select the team leader.
The project charter typically includes:
- A description of the opportunity or threat presented to the organization that provided the stimulus to undertake the project
- The product that will be produced by the project
- The relationship between the opportunity and the product. The product should be described at a high level, but with sufficient detail to support subsequent project planning.
- The authorization to apply organizational resources to the project
When developing mission statements, some things you will want to keep in mind are:
- Make sure that the mission is clear and defined
- Focus the mission statement
- Define the nature and severity of the problem
- Choose projects that will affect the success of the organization
- Missions should not overlap with missions of other teams
- Avoid projects that will improve processes that are soon to be discontinued or redesigned
- Choose a manageable process
- Focus on root causes and not on the symptoms of a problem
- Clearly define project deliverables
The best way to overcome the difficulties that so often lead to project abandonment is to make sure your project meets certain tried and true criteria.