iSixSigma

Project Selection & Tracking

An Affinity for Scope

Mike was a newly hired Black Belt (BB) at a roofing shingle manufacturing plant who was going through Six Sigma training. Tim, the general manager of the plant where Mike worked, brought Mike into his office and explained that Mike’s Master Black Belt was on the speaker phone. The Master Black Belt, Robert, shared with…

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Project Selection That Benefits the Entire Business

To be competitive, organizations need continuous improvement efforts working internally and throughout their supply chains. How can this type of system be created so that it is both immediately beneficial and able to maintain its integrity through inevitable leadership and organizational changes? It is critically important to develop a clear mechanism for selecting improvement projects…

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Timeless Wisdom Can Keep Today’s Belts on Track

Successful practitioners must do more than simply master the Six Sigma methodology. They also need to keep an eye on people-related aspects throughout the lifespan of all of their projects. To do that, practitioners may want to consider some ancient (and not-so-ancient) lessons: King Solomon’s use of wisdom at the right time, The art of…

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Not Everything Needs DMAIC

After coaching Lean Six Sigma for the last 12 years, it is still surprising to see how many projects get cancelled because they are not considered “valid.” Practitioners and managers must remember that this methodology is designed for making process improvements. If leadership cannot identify a broken process, more work by the project sponsor is…

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Holding Black Belts Accountable for Positive Project Results

As a Black Belt, I know it is easy to fall into the trap of working only on projects that cut costs. I also know that this type of “accounting” is a slippery slope that can cloud essential business goals by creating unfounded visions of savings. Don’t get me wrong – cutting expenses is important….

Reducing Cycle Time for Six Sigma Projects

While Six Sigma continues to evolve, the most often cited complaint is long project cycle times. The obvious expense of eight to nine month (or longer) Black and Green Belt projects is opportunity lost. For example, a project that produces cost savings at a run rate of $30,000 per month leaves $150,000 on the table…

How To Avoid Over-Committing On Six Sigma Projects

Delay the Pain, Beg for Forgiveness Years ago I came to a stark realization of an evolving culture in the business world. Employees at all levels were making, or agreeing to, commitments that they could not keep. In fact, the over-commitment culture was prevalent at the most critical level of the business – the company…

Project Selection Options

Six Sigma is accomplished one project at a time. The billions of dollars saved by companies around the world is the cumulative effect of properly selecting and defining business issues that can be assigned to Green Belts and Black Belts for solution. As you may have read last week, a strategic plan includes planning, adequate…

Managing Your Software Project Scope Without Creep

Have you ever managed a project that just will not end? For those projects that never seem to finish, a common cause is cited. It is not necessarily inexperience of personnel or a flawed technology, rather allowing requirements to pass in and out of the revolving door of project scope. Below are a few simple…

How to Select a Quality Improvement Project

You have identified a process improvement area within your business or department. It is easy to figure out what comes next – just fill out a team charter, select the team and team leader, form the team and get out of the way, right? Well, sort of… Why Select Projects? Selecting the right project can…

Finding and Selecting Good Six Sigma Projects

Obvious Areas For Improvement External Defects Anything you have recently been audited or formally rejected for Anything you haven’t been audited or rejected for, but you know is out of specification or not meeting regulations Anything you inspect and/or contain to protect the customer Anything you cover for by having a guy in the customer’s…

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Six Sigma Trends: Next Generation of Projects

I would like to start a series of articles reflecting the University of Kassel’s research in deploying Six Sigma within cross–domain industrial applications. They cover the following topics: Six Sigma trends Advanced strategies Innovative team training I will certainly appreciate if these articles launch a discussion. Getting feedback, I will be able to tailor the…

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To Pilot or Not To Pilot a Six Sigma Project or Design

Defining “Pilot” The meaning of acronyms and words change over time – for example, ARM for many was an acronym for allergy relief medicine; banks use the acronym for adjustable rate mortgages. The same holds true for the meaning of pilot – the light that kept stoves burning, the title of an airplane captain or…

Through Change, Tracking Savings Must Stay Constant

There are people who say that Six Sigma is dead – that it has no value in modern business culture. But these people are mistaking growth and evolution for complete departure. It is true that aspects of Six Sigma have adapted to customers’ changing needs over the years, but its role as a problem-solving system…

Use Point System for Better Six Sigma Project Selection

One common problem many companies run into when starting Six Sigma and Lean efforts is what projects to choose. If they choose unwisely, the whole effort can be stalled or abandoned because the results may not be impressive enough to gain momentum for the cause. New practitioners should be wary of an initial project that…

Product Guide: Project Tracking Software

Tracking financial metrics, reporting on project status and sharing knowledge more easily are just a few of the benefits of project tracking software. This directory provides information about the capabilities and functionalities of several products. Sponsors: MoreSteam.com Tim Kelley, 414-247-1080, tkelley@moresteam.com, moresteam.com SigmaFlow Jim Henry, 972-447-8340, jhenry@sigmaflow.com, sigmaflow.com Six Sigma practitioners use project tracking software…

10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects

Projects are the core of every Six Sigma initiative. Identifying the right projects, having skilled people on board, and providing a proper environment for project execution determines whether the intended process and business results can be achieved and whether Six Sigma will be perceived as a powerful approach to contribute to business success. A relatively…

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Project Selection in a Critical Software Environment

Careful project selection is critical to the success of a Six Sigma initiative. The best selected projects are the ones with the greatest business impact, the least effort required and the highest probability of success. Good problem statements and objectives clearly communicate the scope, significance, and goals of a project. Primary and secondary metrics will…

Use a Thought Map to Increase Efficiency

Why create a thought map? What are the benefits? What common mistakes occur, or challenges may be faced, if a thought map is not used? Using non-statistical tools as well as more complex statistical techniques such as DOE (design of experiments) and SPC (statistical process control) can improve processes and products. A potential shortcoming in…

DMAIC Project Selection Using a Systematic Approach

The growth of the Six Sigma DMAIC continuous improvement process in the United States’ more service-oriented economy is not proceeding as fast as it did earlier in the country’s manufacturing industries. DMAIC is a well-proven process, but requires a systematic approach to project selection in transactional environments. When companies are squeezed on cost and drive…

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Multi-Generation Project Planning’s Fit with Six Sigma

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” With those words, President Kennedy launched the program that has become the stereotypical example of multi-generation project planning. At the time, multi-generation project planning (MGPP) was not a popular tool,…

Six Steps to Keeping Six Sigma Project Pipeline Full

Finding and selecting the right improvement projects and developing a valuable project pipeline are crucial to the success of any Six Sigma initiative, especially when the initiative is in its infancy. If “boil the ocean” projects are selected, Black Belts and Green Belts will lose their energy and the Six Sigma initiative may fade. However,…

Current Reality Tree Helps to Identify Hidden Barriers

Lean Six Sigma projects are a learning journey and, unfortunately, despite practitioners’ best efforts, projects can become delayed on their way to completion. A number of reasons may contribute to project delays, such as the occasional unforeseen organizational crisis due to business, operational or personnel issues. The conventional management response to delays is to arrange…

Model Change Effectiveness Using Bug Tracking Data

One difficulty that arises when Six Sigma is applied directly to the product development process is performing meaningful experimentation on the “process” of developing a product. Often the development cycle is long and many significant project changes occur generation to generation. This makes it hard to attribute process improvements to a specific process change. One…

15 Criteria for Selecting a Viable DMAIC Project

As anyone involved in Six Sigma knows, selecting the right project is a critical component of project success. If practitioners do not put enough effort into selecting the right opportunity for improvement, a project can end in disaster, or create unnecessary work and complexity for the project team. Selecting projects with just a few obvious…

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1-2-3 Model for Successful Six Sigma Project Selection

Providing Six Sigma project leaders with appropriate project definitions is an underestimated challenge in managing Six Sigma initiatives. Project charters typically contain project scopes too broad or too high level, with weak or unclear problem and goal statements. This can cause newly trained project leaders to use their precious time trying to “boil the ocean.”…

An Analytical Method for Estimating Project Benefits

Estimating potential improvement project benefits unfortunately have not always been subjected to same level of analytical rigor that practitioners insist on applying in typical Six Sigma work. The fault lies in the lack of an analytical methodology. Project teams can help themselves over this hurdle with a straightforward method for calculating potential and actual benefits….

Using Critical Path Analysis to Prioritize Projects

An important aspect of Lean Six Sigma deployments is determining which process improvements to pursue in order to achieve business objectives. Project identification, scoping, chartering and sequencing are key elements that help guide such decisions and lead a company toward world-class quality, effectiveness and efficiency. Common process improvements include lead time reduction projects. For these…

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Selecting the Best Business Process Improvement Efforts

A business process improvement (BPI) effort is a systematic approach to help any organization optimize its underlying processes to achieve more efficient results. I use “effort” rather than “project” because I have found that using this terminology results in more motivation and less pushback on the part of Green Belts. After all, effort is truly…

Project Selection: Don’t Pan for Gold in Your Hot Tub!

One of the most frequent questions asked by software groups new to Six Sigma is something like, “What types of problems should we address with Six Sigma?” While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this sort of question, there are criteria that are universally applicable and provide a project selection framework that covers general top-level…

Select Projects Using Evaluation and Decision Tools

Across all industries, there is one area of Six Sigma that can mean the difference between success and failure of deployment: project selection. Whether the method is used in manufacturing or service organizations, the future of a deployment is always influenced by the quality of project selection. Project selection typically starts with generating ideas. The…

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Best of Benchmarking Research: Projects

From the inception of iSixSigma Magazine, a regular feature of the publication was exclusive research on aspects of deploying Six Sigma. The topics benchmarked have ranged from “Black Belt Return on Investment” in the inaugural issue, January/February 2005, to “The Lean Six Sigma Toolset” in November/December 2009. In addition, the magazine reports each year on…

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Workshops Help Generate and Prioritize Project Ideas

The effective deployment of Lean Six Sigma is done through projects, one by one. While there are a myriad of issues a deployment leader needs to consider – such as training, selection of Belts or even a system for tracking project progress – project definition and scoping remain perennial issues. An improvement project can be…

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Lessons from Crusoe on Project Resource Allocation

Take a look at the headlines of any newspaper today and it is easy to see that the next two years are going to be a difficult time for most companies. Among these, some organizations that have already deployed Lean or Six Sigma may be forced to reduce their labor force. Of course, there may…

Systems Thinking Can Reveal Broader Project Value

Systems thinking studies how parts of a structure interrelate to form an overall system. For example, the human body is a system – and so too are healthcare organizations and the healthcare industry in general. By adopting a systems mindset that supersedes individual functions and departments, practitioners can complete strategic value analysis based on internal and…

Three Steps to Successful Six Sigma Project Selections

Project selection is one of the most critical and challenging activities faced by Six Sigma companies. Most organizations are able to identify a host of project opportunities, but the difficulty arises in sizing and packaging those opportunities to create meaningful projects. To be successful, the project selection process must be well defined and disciplined. One…

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Picking the Best Approach for the Problem at Hand

As more organizations expand their efforts into multiple process improvement methodologies, choosing the methodology to solve a particular problem can be as difficult as solving the actual problem. While simply using a problem solving methodology significantly increases the success rate of a project, choosing the correct methodology optimizes the solution process to achieve the best…

Black Belts Should Create Balanced Project Portfolios

The question is simple: What type of projects should a Black Belt be conducting or considering? There are only so many hours in a day. And there is an abundance of demands, requirements and deadlines, coupled with ever-present and growing resource constraints. Black Belts are expected to complete projects that save money, as well as…

Pre-work and Prioritization Mean Fewer Failed Projects

How many times has a Six Sigma project “crashed and burned” – abandoned a few months after kickoff? Or worse, just twisted in the proverbial wind without any progress as the months tick by? This is arguably one of the most frustrating experiences a Six Sigma practitioner can face. And for a quality program, it can…

Goldilocks Dilemma: Getting Project Scope ‘Just Right’

One of the hardest decisions teams and their sponsors make is picking the right scope for a project. Those who choose easy, bite-sized projects often have a high success rate – but the impact sometimes is so small that the general reaction is “so what” or “is that all that Lean Six Sigma can do…

Beat the Omnipresent Scope Creep With Communications

Hardly anyone who has managed a software project has not had a project that just will not end. The reason those projects never seem to finish is not necessarily inexperienced personnel or a flawed technology. The common cause is allowing requirements to pass in and out of the revolving door of project scope. There are…

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Identifying Six Sigma Projects Using Customer Data – An iSixSigma Case Study

A successful business knows its customers – who they are, what their expectations are and what they think of the products or services. More importantly, a successful business continually improves its processes, reassesses its ability to meet customer needs, and gathers customer data to keep well appraised of changing customer needs and expectations. There are many…

SIPOC Leads to Process Mapping and Project Selection

Often when companies introduce Lean Six Sigma as a way of executing process improvement in its organization, they get excited about all the statistical tools and are enamored with the idea of training Green Belts and Black Belts. An experienced Six Sigma deployment leader will rein-in that enthusiasm and point out that there is much…

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Value Stream Mapping to Identify Improvement Projects

With many companies integrating Lean and Six Sigma methodologies into a single improvement tool kit, value stream mapping has emerged as a preferred tool to identify process improvement opportunities. A number of valuable points can be made about applying value stream thinking to project selection across a range of industries and processes both in the…

Project Scoping in Healthcare: An Exploration and Tips

An important factor contributing to the success of a Six Sigma healthcare project is the initial defining or scoping of the project. After the primary focus area of a project has been identified, scoping is the activity of breaking down the focus area into the many specific processes, sub-divisions of the business and/or segments that…