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Project Selection - Ready, Aim, Fire!

Aug 17, 2007
If all other things such as project outlining, defining deviations and correction measures using the famed DMAIC, training the personnel, assessment and audit are on one side, then the project selection on the other can outweigh all of them. It doesn't matter that the improvement project is not more than academic interest; it's success depends entirely on the selection of the project itself.

What Does It Mean To Select a Wrong Project?

What does it mean to select a wrong project? Well, this question has arisen not because projects are selected wrongly by design or because the project selection teams are incompetent. This question can't be misconstrued as something willful when especially it dawns at an advanced stage that the project is out of track and control and as a consequence, doomed to fail.

Fail-Proofing the Projection Process

In Six Sigma, project selection is based on two foundation cornerstones that are 'total customer satisfaction' and 'maximization of ROI.' We can use the analogy that a home is only as good as its foundation.

Look for projects in your annual strategy documents that have roadmaps with various business objectives defined for the ensuing years.

Another place to look will be the budget and HR; HR, for one, is a major component of expenditures. Even though it is not personnel reduction, along with the budget, it accounts for a major chunk of wastage adding to Cost of Poor Quality, COPQ. ROI maximization depends heavily on reducing COPQ.

Customer survey, complaints received by sales department indicate the Voice of Customer or VOC. Complaints are opportunities which define how they benefit from your business services or products. Orienting business purposes towards VOC offers project ideas, too.

Places To Look For Projects

1. Recurring events like payroll processing, new hires, etc. consume resources endlessly. This category provides for result-oriented projects

2. Six Sigma projects get a boost to their success probability if the scope is narrowed down to realistic and quantifiable targets. The quote, "You can't boil the whole ocean" applies here.

3. Define the anticipated results and if they make measurable entities; measurable results are looked upon as practical and result oriented.

4. Select manageable projects as they can be successfully completed within reasonable timeframes. Projects of larger proportions take longer and resources eventually loose management commitment.

5. Brainstorming with key people from strategic areas generates ideas after critically examining rationalities of processes particular to their respective areas. Brainstorming may critically examine the project selection process itself. Pay attention to cost drivers such as any wastages.

6. Process variation is another area to look into. Are there hardened assumptions and notions about existing, variation prone processes can be disproved and whether there exists scope for streamlining it? This is a major area you can expect the project to make substantial contributions to the bottom line by reduced COPQ.

Individual industry scenarios may differ but these guidelines still hold. As project selection is the foundation, there is no sense in firefighting at a later stage, having gone deeper into implementation.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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