The Six Sigma Project Charter (Six Sigma Define Phase)

Over the upcoming weeks I will be doing a series of articles centered on the primary tools used by Six Sigma practitioners during the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) life cycle. My hope is that it will help my readers better understand the tools that they have at hand. The articles will not be in depth or overly techie as there are numerous books and online resources for further research. They instead will be articles based on the how-to of Six Sigma tools, along with links and resources I will create to assist my readers with hitting the ground running.

The DMAIC phase almost generally always begins with establishing what is known as a Project Charter. The charter is a living breathing document that gives purpose and definition to what it is your Six Sigma team is hoping to accomplish with regards to their project.

The charter is a living breathing document that gives purpose and definition to what it is your Six Sigma team is hoping to accomplish with regards to their project.

The project charter includes the project justification, the major deliverables, and the project objectives. It forms the basis of future project decisions, including the decision of when the project or subproject is complete. The project charter is used to communicate with stakeholders and to allow scope management as the project moves forward.

The project charter is a written document issued by the project sponsor. The project charter gives the project team authority to use organizational resources for project activities.

The project charter is a written document issued by the project sponsor. The project charter gives the project team authority to use organizational resources for project activities.

The charter documents the why, how, who, and when of a project, include the following elements:

  • Problem statement
  • Project objective or purpose, including the business need addressed
  • Scope
  • Deliverables (i.e., objective measures of success that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed changes, as discussed below)
  • Sponsor and stakeholder groups
  • Team members
  • Project schedule (using Gantt or PERT as an attachment)
  • Other resources required

These items are largely interrelated: as the scope increases, the timetable and the deliverables also expand. Whether initiated by management or proposed by opera- tional personnel, many projects initially have too broad a scope. As the project cycle time increases, the tangible cost of the project deployment, such as cost due to labor and material usage, will increase.

The purpose of the charter is to set expectations that can be agreed upon by the team as well as the sponsor or executive leaders, keep the team focused on the goal, ensure the project remains aligned with the goals of the business, and documents the fact that control of a process is being moved from a business executive or manager to a Six Sigma project team.

The purpose of the charter is to set expectations that can be agreed upon by the team as well as the sponsor or executive leaders, keep the team focused on the goal, ensure the project remains aligned with the goals of the business, and documents the fact that control of a process is being moved from a business executive or manager to a Six Sigma project team.

In closing the project charter is the springboard by which all activities in your Six Sigma projects will flow from. With out a solid charter you have no foundation to build on. I always recommend to take the time to ensure your charter is clear, concise and articulates what it is you and your team hope to accomplish through the investment of time and resources you will be allocating towards the project. In my next post we will take a look at a tool that will help us establish if we even have a viable project to begin with.

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