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Ensuring The Success Of Six Sigma Process Improvement Projects

Feb 4, 2008
Since most of process improvement projects are targeted at satisfying the needs and requirements of customers, it becomes necessary to give due consideration to the Voice of the Customer (VOC) in order to ensure the success of process improvement projects. Explained below are some of the techniques that can be utilized for ensuring the success of Six Sigma process improvement projects.

Stressing Quantifiable Measures

The main reason as to why some process improvement projects are unable to deliver the desired results is that they lack the use quantifiable measures that are necessary for converting verbal VOC data into measurable terms. When quantifiable measures are not utilized, it becomes quite difficult to form a general opinion about a particular customer input or feedback, which in turn leads to confusion and conflicting perceptions amongst the implementation team members.

This ultimately begins to affect the productivity of implementation team members - something that can easily lead to project delays and even complete redundancies. There are certainly other reasons that lead to project failures, but businesses need to focus their efforts mainly on removing the anomaly of quantifiable measures because that is the reason that contributes the most to the success or failure of a process improvement project.

Other Factors To Consider: Determining Project Completion Time

Yet another reason that is often held responsible for the failure of process improvement projects is the inability of the implementation team to set a deadline for the project's completion. Projects that do not have a deadline are no doubt initiated with great energy and enthusiasm, but such projects often lose steam midway because implementation team members find it difficult to assess whether the project is really adding value or not. Until and unless projects are initiated with a fixed deadline, it is quite difficult to assess its real effectiveness because costs incurred on the project have a direct bearing on its overall effectiveness. Since it is very difficult to determine the cost of a project that does not have a fixed deadline, assessing its overall effectiveness is a big problem.

Now, it is quite easy to claim that a project has been a success if it starts to deliver the desired results, but businesses need to display just a bit more patience before uncorking the bottle because a project can be termed as "successful" only when it delivers consistent results. This is why, instead of celebrating the initial success, businesses need to concentrate more on deploying control systems that can measure the effectiveness of the project over a specified period. Control systems are necessary because they help in early detection of faults, making it possible for the quality department to take immediate action. It is only after a process improvement project passes the control system checks, can it be really called "successful".
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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