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Six Sigma Project Selection

Aug 17, 2007
Selecting the project becomes the necessary step after identifying the need for process improvement in your business or, for that matter, your department. But selecting a project is a series of complex decision-making processes aided by a variety of tools. A wrong project selection for Six Sigma implementation means the project is not in line with your business. You will end up encountering the same roadblocks and going in circles over and again.

Steps Involved In Six Sigma Project Selection

The steps that need to be taken in selecting a project for Six Sigma vary as per your line of business and the scale of the operation. However, the whole scope of Six Sigma hinges on two key focal points, namely, 'total customer satisfaction' and 'increased return on investment.' The steps may be formulated, keeping this in view.

1. Put The Customer First: Customer satisfaction being the first focal point, know the critical points to assure quality to drive the project (VOC). Each individual customer has a different point of view about quality and the summation of them can be the first point. Make use of the Pareto Chart for prioritizing the issues.

2. Projects Must Be In Line With Your Business: List the top three roadblocks faced by all the functional heads in your organization. Ensure that the roadblocks are directly concerned with the business. This exercise prioritizes the elimination of such obstacles by everyone.

3. A Good Project Must Be Manageable: A good, realistic project can be actually completed within a reasonable time, say, 6 months. Prolonged projects risk loss of interest and start building frustrations within the team and all the way around. The team also runs the risk of disintegrating.

4. Every Result Must Be Measurable And Tangible: Any project which can't be measured before and after its completion has no value. Improvement in the bottom line, maximization of customer satisfaction or reduced burden on employees will all be measurable and so will keep the team motivated throughout.

5. Defining The Desired Outcome: This starts by defining the defects first. This also helps keep checks on the project in terms of process capability. This is one way of making the project measurable by progress.

Brainstorming And Using A Questionnaire

Brainstorming by the key personnel and functional heads in your organization is a good idea. Although there is no hard and fast rule as to whether this should precede or follow the internal and external (VOC) survey, it critically examines the steps involved in the process of project selection. However, the questionnaire itself can contain questions, critical of the prevalent scenario. You may include questions on external and internal defects in addition to questions on capacity and efficiency issues. Not the least important questions are the ones on less obvious cost drivers such as wastage.

Process Variation

Take a bite at the variation in process too. Whether it is possible to streamline the process variation and whether understanding the variation help you produce better quality and defect free parts with less input upon completion of the project? Where is the variation originating from, suppliers end or internal?

Wastage can give a deathblow if they are not dealt with properly. Materials, under-utilization of capacity and unreasonable inventory fall into the wastage category.

The sole consideration must be the vision and the dream to realize it. Care must be exercised to avoid wrong selection of the project which can only aggravate the situation and waste the resources of the organization.
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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