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.
Communication Plan Considerations
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.
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
|Project team meetings||Project team, invitees||Weekly (every Thurs @ 9 a.m.)||Black Belt||Notices, agendas sent out one week ahead||War Room|
|Meeting minutes||Distribution list||By next day COB||Black Belt or team scribe||Via email||MS Word file on shared drive|
|Team work/action items||Project team, Champion||TBD||Black Belt||Via email||Nature of file TBD, placed on shared drive|
|Status reports, including timeline||Project team, Champion, customer/client||Weekly (every Friday at COB)||Black Belt||Via email||MS Word file on shared drive, email to customer rep|
|Project budget||Champion, project financial analyst, quality dept head||TBD||Black Belt or project financial analyst||Via email||MS Excel file on Six Sigma database|
|Project reviews||Project team, Champion, quality dept head||TBD (monthly)||Black Belt||Notices sent out one week ahead||Six Sigma conference room|
|Project storyline||Deployment Champion, quality dept head, senior management||TBD||Black Belt or team members||Gallery walk notices sent out two weeks prior||Six Sigma gallery room|
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.