During the life of a Six Sigma project, proper communication is the key to ultimate success. An effective communication plan must be established at the onset of any Six Sigma project. The data that is produced, analyzed, interpreted and distributed (as information) throughout a project can be enormous in volume and depth. Unfortunately, too often as Black Belts go about their work, little effort is made in deciding who gets what in regard to the information and who should be responsible for what is created. This is where a RACI diagram can be a big help to a team leader.
Plenty of Data to Go Around
Collected data (raw facts) and processed data (information) are collected throughout the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) cycle of a Six Sigma project. Just consider some of these many data products:
- Define Phase: Objectives, voice of the customer, critical-to-quality flowdown, charter, goal statement, problem statement.
- Measure Phase: Surveys, polls, historical data, gauge repeatability and reproducibility outputs, attribute repeatability and reproducibility outputs, operational definitions, collected data.
- Analyze Phase: Statistical spreadsheet outputs, graphs, diagrams, histograms, root cause hypothesis, time analysis outputs.
- Improve Phase: Potential solutions, action plans, results assessments, pilot results.
- Control Phase: Control plan, storyboard, process management charts, revised processes.
Many Black Belts seem to think that all the information is important and needs to be shared with everyone. But is this correct?
Does Everyone Need All the Data?
Who should gets what? Who wants what? Who does what? The answers to those questions can best be obtained in meetings with key stakeholders and those who will be participating in your project in one form or another. The two best types of these meetings are group meetings or one-on-one meetings. Never guess on the answers to those vital questions.
During these meetings, discuss briefly what takes place during each phase of DMAIC, along with some expected outputs. Additionally, determine the following:
- Who will collect the data?
- Who will analyze it?
- Who wants to see the results of the analysis?
- Who needs to see the results of the analysis?
To better understand this process, consider following the steps:
Step 1: Determine All the Key Players
As an example, a Black Belt for a large financial services company is planning a project to reduce the amount of cost and time in providing a particular transaction service for its customers. The Black Belt is fortunate enough to have a Green Belt who will be used to collect and document various information and metrics. Additionally, the Black Belt has determined that the other key players include the following:
- Master Black Belt: Provides the Black Belt with technical assistance in the Six Sigma methodology. Also reviews the progress made by the Black Belt and conducts one-on-one meetings to close out each phase of the project.
- Champion: Originally approved the charter for the project and will find additional resources (as needed) for the project. Will help the Black Belt in removing any roadblock that hinders the completion of the project.
- Business Owner: Focused on the bottom line of the business and wants to cut costs and improve profits.
- Manager: Responsible for the department in which transaction services are performed. Desires for the department to do a better job.
- Process Owner: Responsible for the particular transaction service that is being examined.
- Subject Matter Expert: Has designed other transaction services, has experience with similar processes and work flow in general.
- Financial Representative: Works with Black Belt to help calculate savings for a project.
Step 2: Meet with All Key Players
During this meeting the Black Belt provides an overview of each phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology. Expected outputs of each phase are discussed. For some of these key players, the Black Belt can assign various responsibilities to them. For others, the Black Belt needs to determine how much information and data from the project and its phases they want to receive.
Step 3: Prepare a RACI Diagram
A RACI diagram is a graphical display that denotes the roles and responsibilities of key people in a project. The RACI diagram assigns tasks into four responsibility types. The first letter of the responsibility types make up the acronym RACI:
- Responsible: Those who do the actual work.
- Accountable: Those who are ultimately accountable for the completion of the work. (Hint: There must be only one “A” specified for each row in a RACI diagram.)
- Consulted: Those who provide input and/or output as needed. (Consider this as two-way communication.)
- Informed: Those who want to be kept up to date on progress of the particular phase. (Consider this as one-way communication.)
Below is a RACI diagram filled in with the information garnered from the meeting with key players in the drill press example:
|The RACI Diagram|
|Master Black Belt|
|Subject Matter Expert|
Step 4: Analyze the RACI Diagram
Analyze the assignments made. Are some key players too heavily involved (too many Rs)? Could some of the key players be given more responsibilities? Are all the key players listed? The team leader should discuss this with the team and modify the RACI diagram accordingly. Always remember that the RACI diagram is a tool and its effectiveness and utility can be greatly diminished if it is not properly completed. Do not breeze over this step. The Benjamin Franklin quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” comes to mind here.
Step 5: Ensure Agreement and Distribute the Diagram
When completed, the Black Belt must ensure agreement among the key players. If all are in agreement, distribute the RACI diagram.
The overall purpose of the RACI diagram is to properly manage the flow of the information (and its byproducts) in a project, along with the associated responsibilities. Additionally, it provides clarity on the project’s direction and purpose. It is a fantastic organizational tool that helps to educate people on the Six Sigma methodology. Following the five steps above, the team leader will foster teamwork and promote understanding.
The RACI diagram can be completed at a macro-level (like the one in this example). It also can be used at a micro- or low-level detail to shows individual components of each listed phase. For example, the business owner may be highly interested in the voice of the customer determination but not interested in the critical-to-quality flowdown. Use the RACI diagram in whatever method that provides the greatest value to the ultimate successful completion of the project. It is a tool that is useful and practical.