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Six Sigma Project Management Tools

Instructor: Elizabeth Wamicha

Elizabeth teaches undergraduate courses in Business and Information Technology for the last 7 years. She is currently on course to completing a Doctorate in Information Systems

This lesson examines Six Sigma and the main project management tools that are used to carry out Six Sigma related process improvement initiatives. The lesson describes and evaluates these tools.

Six Sigma in Project Management

Currently there is significant interest in understanding the critical link between process improvement and project management. In order to better understand this link it is important to analyze what exactly a project is. A project from a Six Sigma perspective involves a set of steps that are taken in order to solve a problem or make a particular process or product better. Therefore, having the appropriate controls to run projects in an efficient manner. This is especially so because the approach that Six Sigma uses in the running projects is getting to the root cause of the problem that the project intends to solve. In project management, Six Sigma experts use quantitative and qualitative tools and techniques during the project management process. The next section looks at the various phases that happen during the life cycle of a project and the Six Sigma tools and techniques that can be used during each phase.

Problem Definition

During this phase, the main tool that is used is the project charter. The project charter is used to specify the scope, objectives, and business case of the project. The project charter also defines the success metrics that will be used to gauge the success of the project. The roles of the different team members can also be specified in the project charter. Developing a comprehensive project charter can help the team understand the objectives of the project. The project charter can also provide a clear picture of the gap that exists between the current state and the proposed or desired state. For example, the project charter can state that ''the goal of this improvement project is to reduce the response rate of customer care representatives working at the call center.''

Process Performance Measurement

In this phase, the pareto chart can be used. The pareto chart is a tool that is used to analyze the rate at which problems that the project is trying to solve occur as well as the likely causes of these problems. The pareto chart is represented as a bar graph. The length of each bar of the bar graphs indicate the rate at which each of the problems occur. The pareto chart aids in visually illustrating which problems are the most significant. The Pareto chart is ideal in situations where the project aims to solve multiple problems, making it possible to prioritize the most critical ones.

Process Analysis

This is the phase where the root causes of problems are identified and analyzed. Some of these problems could be variations in product development and production, defects in products, or poor performance by employees. An important tool that can be used at this stage is the root cause analysis. In Six Sigma projects, root cause is an aspect or factor that causes some non-conformance. This root cause should be removed in order to improve the process. The root cause analysis tool attempts to identify the real root cause of a problem and from this develop potential problem solving approaches.

Process Performance Improvement

In this phase the root cause of the various problems have been identified and measures are being put in place to ensure that the root causes are eliminated. The Kaizen Event is the main tool that is used at this stage. The premise behind the Kaizen Event is to introduce change by focusing on a reduced project scope. During the Kaizen Event, small sessions are held with the project owners and project team. The main aim of these sessions is to make improvements to the processes that are within the scope of the project

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