iSixSigma

A Project Charter Communication Strategy Is Essential

Six Sigma Black Belts, Master Black Belts and Project Champions, when embarking on a DMAIC, DMADV or Process Management project, need to be aware of the importance of establishing a communication plan when developing and validating a team charter. A finely executed Black Belt project can suffer disappointing results if an efficient mechanism is not already in place to ensure that vital information is relayed to those members who need it.

Typically, team charters include such deliverables as a business case, problem and goal statements, scope, milestones and roles. What should be added, perhaps in the team charter or as a separate Define phase deliverable, is a plan or strategy for communicating information that is related to the Six Sigma project to its appropriate recipients.

At a minimum, Black Belts should give thought to how the proceedings of team meetings and project work will be communicated so that others in the organization who are on a need-to-know basis will be assured that they remain in the loop. A simple table could be constructed that would display what will be communicated, who will do the communicating, when the communication will take place, to whom the communication will be delivered, how the communications will be delivered, and where the information will be stored.

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Communication Plan Considerations

Who – Person who is responsible for delivering the communication, e.g., Project Champion, Master Black Belt, Black Belt, Green Belt, Quality Analyst, Process Owner, Team Member, etc.

What – The type of communication, e.g., team meetings, meeting minutes, team work/action items, project status reports, project timeline, project reviews/tollgates, project success stories/storyboards, etc.

Why – The rationale for the communication plan, i.e., to establish and enforce a contract for communication.

Where – The location where the recipient will find the communication, if specified.

When – The time and/or frequency at which the communication is delivered, e.g., every Friday at close of business, weekly, within 24 hours or next day close of business, etc.

How – The delivery mechanism that will facilitate the communication, e.g., electronic mail, voice mail, conference call, video presentation, etc.

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To Whom – The audience or recipients of the communication, e.g., senior management, the quality department, project champion, MBB, team members, etc.

Here is a sample communication tool that could be employed in a Six Sigma project that addresses all of the considerations listed above.

Typically, team charters include such deliverables as a business case, problem and goal statements, scope, milestones, and roles. What should be added, perhaps in the team charter or as a separate Define phase deliverable, is a plan or strategy for communicating information that is related to the Six Sigma project to its appropriate recipients.

Six Sigma Project Charter Communication Plan

WhatTo WhomWhenWhoHowWhereComments
Project team meetingsProject team, inviteesWeekly (every Thurs @ 9 a.m.)Black BeltNotices, agendas sent out one week aheadWar Room 
Meeting minutesDistribution listBy next day COBBlack Belt or team scribeVia emailMS Word file on shared drive 
Team work/action itemsProject team, ChampionTBDBlack BeltVia emailNature of file TBD, placed on shared drive 
Status reports, including timelineProject team, Champion, customer/clientWeekly (every Friday at COB)Black BeltVia emailMS Word file on shared drive, email to customer rep 
Project budgetChampion, project financial analyst, quality dept headTBDBlack Belt or project financial analystVia emailMS Excel file on Six Sigma database 
Project reviewsProject team, Champion, quality dept headTBD (monthly)Black BeltNotices sent out one week aheadSix Sigma conference room 
Project storylineDeployment Champion, quality dept head, senior managementTBDBlack Belt or team membersGallery walk notices sent out two weeks priorSix Sigma gallery room 
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By establishing this communication tool up front and verifying its usage with the project team, the Black Belt becomes indoctrinated on the importance of having an effective communication plan and the team becomes aware of the important role of communicating the team’s work.

The members who need information the most are often subject matter experts who are not part of the project team, but whose knowledge on a particular aspect of a related process, or a constituent sub-process, is valuable to the team or to the organization. These experts need to be kept in the loop as the project progresses so that when key meetings are to ensue, they are informed, and they can participate in the discussions when important business decisions are made. A well conceived communication plan helps to ensure that potential contributors are not left out of the loop.

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