Selecting Lean Six Sigma Projects

Lean Six Sigma projects are most often chosen by an organization through a link to the overall strategy of the organization and the return on investment for a project.
There are several methods for selection of a Six Sigma project.  Matrix diagrams are a planning tool for displaying the relationships among various data sets. During the Champion phase or initial charter phase of the Define stage, organizations often use a prioritization matrix to rank competing priorities. This is a scoring or ranking system which can also be a tool for the voice of the customer. If the customer has multiple issues requiring quality control, they can rank them in order of priority to the organization.

Process decision program charts (PDPC) identify what may go wrong in a plan under development. Once possible issues are identified, prevention controls and countermeasures can be developed to prevent the problems.
PDPC charts are used in these situations:
  • When the price of failure is high
  • Before implementing a plan
  • When the plan must be completed on schedule
The steps used to develop the PDPC chart include developing a tree diagram of the proposed plan, reviewing each task, brainstorming what could go wrong, reviewing all the potential problems and brainstorming possible countermeasures for each potential problem, and then determining which to implement.

There are many tools which can be used for “leaning” a process once the project is selected.  The most common lean tools include:
  • Kaizen
  • Poka Yoke
  • Takt time
  • 5 Whys
  • 5S
  • Spaghetti diagram
  • Touch time
  • Work times
  • Kanban
  • Theory of constraints
  • Value stream maps

The actual project charter is a formal document used to summarize key deliverables and information for a Six Sigma project, and it provides the official authorization to move through with the project. The project charter includes these components:
  • The key problem/s to be resolved
  • The need for the resolution
  • The mission statement or goal of the project
  • The details of the project team composition
  • Key stakeholders
  • The scope of the project
  • The resources required and authorization
  • Project phase critical path and timelines

Your charter should include and ask the following questions in the business case:
  • The name of the project
  • The aim of the project, called Aim statements
  • Why the project is needed?
  • What are the consequences of not doing the project? Opportunity costs?
  • What other projects have high priority? Priority Matrix
  • What strategic goals are met by this project?
  • Problem Statement: Summarizes and describes the problem, opportunity, or objective in concise, measurable terms.  
  • Goal Statement: Describes the team’s improvement objective this should tell what you intend to improve, reduce, eliminate or control.