In recent years – Project Management methodologies have become an increasingly important part of the business toolkit – they provide not only the rigor required to control resources and capital expenditure but also a proven framework from which to deliver success. Six Sigma improvement initiatives are increasingly looked at as projects and as such are becoming more open to management via the associated methods.

Project Charters are commonly used at project start to pull all the appropriate information about a project together, communicating its purpose to both stakeholders and any governance or steering team. Six Sigma Projects can be of various sizes and complexity and not all may support the overhead of a detailed methodology (especially those that will run for a very short duration) notwithstanding Six Sigma Project Charters are a good habit to get into as they ask a variety of questions from the project team.

Standard Project Charters usually require adapting to Six Sigma use as Six Sigma will have particular requirements not relevant to general projects –whilst there is no “standard” Six Sigma Project Charter there’s some areas of best practice you may want to consider when constructing yours. Consider including the following sections:

1/ Project Organization

Who represents the project – who is the sponsor and who is the Project Manager/Black/Green Belt. Are there any underlying resources required?

2/ The Business Issue

What is the business problem that needs addressing – can you quantify it using cost or defects?

3/ Relevance/Benefit to the customer

How will the Project improve the benefit provided to the customer (e.g. fewer defects, reduced leadtime?)

4/ Expected Savings/Improvement to be obtained

What financial savings will be achieved through delivering the project?

5/ Measures that will indicate success of a project

What measures will be applied to the project as a success criteria – what status are they currently at? E.g. Process takt time, DPPM, Lead time, Delivery on time in full.

6/ DMAIC Milestone plan

What is the schedule for Project delivery – consider structuring your plan utilizing the DMAIC (for process improvement) method

7/ Risk Management

What risks and issues could affect your Six Sigma iniative – how can you mitigate these?

Problems with Six Sigma Project Charters

Without doubt – Project Charters can offer many benefits to Six Sigma professionals – they are an excellent communication tool to inform and educate about your initiative and its likely impact. However they do have two main drawbacks

1/ They are often produced at the outset and forgotten about

The important thing about project charters is that they should not just be produced and left to gather dust – Six Sigma Project Charters are there to be referred too throughout the project they offer a way of ensuring that targets are maintained and that the projects original scope is adhered to. Treat them as a reference book, one that is constantly checked to ensure compliance.

2/ They are applied to all projects regardless of size and scale

Project Charters do require resource and time to produce – for quick Kaizen style events detailed Project Charters may not be entirely applicable, consider a condensed version

Summary

Six Sigma professionals have much to gain from utilizing Project Charters – a carefully constructed charter can act as not only the communication tool for the project but also as a means of understanding project scope, managing risks whilst providing a means of monitoring progress and achievement.

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