The project charter is the first step and one of the most important parts of any Six Sigma project. The document provides an overview of the project and serves as an agreement between management and the Six Sigma team regarding the expected project outcome.
The charter is used to set the project direction and defines the measures of success. It includes a clear definition of accountability and team roles and responsibilities. Also, anticipated costs and financial benefits are included in the charter, establishing a plan for financial oversight throughout the project. The charter offers the project team a roadmap of the project boundaries and aligns the goals with critical business needs. It also includes a team charter to address points such as meeting frequency, time and day of the week, venue and code of conduct. This provides a contract of accountability for team members, leaders, sponsors and Champions. By approving the document, the project Champion and process owner commit to the project and agree to ensure that the organization assigns the appropriate resources.
A project charter consists of several parts, all vital to identifying project expectations and gaining approvals and commitments in support of the project goals. It is important to note that the charter does not describe solutions or how the team will implement them. Below is a detailed view of 11 elements in a typical charter, with what each element is for and what questions that element is expected to answer:
Business case discusses the business issue that is assigned to the project team. Provided by the project Champion or sponsor, the business case explains why there is a need for the organization to undertake the project and how it will support organizational objectives.
Problem statement provides a more specific and focused description of the symptoms arising from the problem the team will address.
Goal statement/specific objective describes results anticipated from the project. The goals state specific project targets to achieve the desired project purpose. The targets are stated as measurements.
Project scope identifies boundaries for the project and describes the specific project scope.
Critical success factors clarify and document the limitations of the project and other factors affecting the team’s effort in completing the project successfully.
Impact on stakeholders outlines which individuals inside and outside the organization can influence and are affected by the project, and which have a vested interest in the process and its outcome.
Role of Champion provides a picture of how well the Champion serves as a strategist and facilitator for Six Sigma activities in the organization.
Role of team members outlines who the core and support members are who will implement the project.
Project milestones define time-bound clear milestones in the life of the project.
Project vision describes the organization’s vision for the improvements anticipated from the project.
Expected financial benefits describes all financial benefits including cost avoidance and actual budget impacts.