A key objective of every project is to deliver results in an agreed upon time period with an agreed upon set of resources. Three important factors that are critical to accomplishing this are:
- The project is well defined
- The project is scoped properly
- The project is resourced adequately
Beginning Your Lean Six Sigma Project
At this early stage of the project, the involvement of the project sponsor is critical and the sponsor/champion works with the project lead and project team in defining and resourcing the project. Typically, the sponsor is the manager/executive accountable for the process and resources that the project is addressing.
1) The Lean Six Sigma Project Is Well Defined
Articulating what the project is addressing is critically important. The project definition is captured in a project charter also known as an A3 in the Lean world. The process wherein the project resides should be named. If the project is addressing an issue within the Product Development process or a sub-process within the Product Development process, it should be identified. Also to be addressed is the specific issue the project is addressing is important. For example, a project within the Product Development process may be addressing a cycle time issue. This specific issue is typically the problem definition of the project. In a textile production example, a project may be addressing the defect rate of greige (unfinished) fabric on a particular loom, plant or greige type. The process is the Production of Greige Goods and the problem is the defect rate. The project is further clarified with data quantifying the problem. How long is the cycle time compared to standard or what is its impact? How many are late? What is the consequence such as penalties or missed deadlines? In the greige goods example, what is the defect rate and what is that cost and/or consequence?
2) The Lean Six Sigma Project Is Scoped Properly
It is important to have boundaries and limits to what the project will and will not include. Scope issues correlate to project duration. Well scoped projects tend to finish on time. Projects scoped to issues directly related to the identified process are projects that can be managed to shorter time frames. A project duration of two-five months is an objective to work toward.
In defining the project, a process is identified. Process boundaries are one aspect of project scope. Processes upstream or downstream of the named process should be out of scope preliminarily as the project get underway. Additionally, there are other scoping issues that need to be considered such as systems architecture and IT issues. The project should examine input and process issues are inherent within the named process and problem identified. So a project may initially include vendor issues but exclude the vendor selection/qualification process.
3) The Lean Six Sigma Project Is Resourced Adequately
The resources for the project should be related to the process and problem identified and the defined scope. Resources typically include people and budget and may include other assets such as equipment etc. The staffing of the project should include personnel from the process identified and important stakeholders who influence the process such as a supplier to the process. This “core” team should be 4-7 persons. Small core teams are more effective than larger, unwieldy teams. Please note that a project with a small core team may still involve 10-20 other people from the organization as the core team goes through the process of measuring, analyzing and improving the process. These additional people may provide needed data or assistance with systems or financial assessments etc.
This upfront project definition work will greatly facilitate the project in meeting its objectives in a timely manner.