How to Identify Projects for Lean Six Sigma?

Improving the performance of a business strategy is integral for any organization that deals in products or services. This blog revolves around project identification and all the factors involved, in relation with the Lean Six Sigma methodologies. Six sigma is often used by organizations to understand the demands of customers, statistical analysis, management and improvement of their business process. The need of the hour is to improvise and improve your process according to internal and external factors, both.

If you are a new to sigma world, it is recommended that you pursue a complete Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and learn everything you need in detail.

Let’s start with some basics!

What is Project Identification?

Project identification, as the name suggests means identifying potential projects and then implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies according to the goals of your business. It mainly depends on two factors: Internal and External. External factors denote the threats and opportunities to satisfy client demands, responding to market trends or tracking the competitor’s activities. Whereas, internal sources are related to the factors influencing the project, within the organization. Such sources become the base of a project and can be used to further select which project would comply with the Lean Six Sigma methodologies.

After project identification, selection of the appropriate project that needs six sigma is the next step of the process flow. Let’s dive straight right in!

Project Selection:

Six Sigma projects should positively impact Key Performance Indicators related to areas of Customer, Financial, internal business presses, knowledge/education & growth.

People get confused between other quality or process improvement methodologies and Six Sigma but, it is very different from the others. It demands results. The outcome is conveyed by projects that are tightly connected to customer demands and business strategy. Over the years, Six Sigma projects are combined together with project management and business process improvement practices. This further helps in selecting the projects for Lean Six Sigma. A project is a short-term endeavor accepted to create a unique product, service or result.

Process Elements

The provisional nature of the project requires a fixed beginning and end. The end is finalized when the project’s goals have been accomplished, when the project is dismissed due to its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the project is no longer needed. Most projects are taken to create a lasting outcome.

The logical process flow as explained by Thomas Pyzdek is as follows,

  1. Define the project’s goals and deliverables.
  2. Define the current process.
  3. Analyze the measurement system.
  4. Measure the current process and analyze the data using exploratory and descriptive statistical methods.
  5. Review the current process and correct any threats found.
  6. Use SPC to perform a process capability study.
  7. Recognize and correct special causes of variation.
  8. Apply statistically designed experiments to improve the current process.
  9. Cultivate and implement an entirely new process that meets the project’s goals using an Employ breakthrough strategy.
  10. Institute control and nonstop improvement systems and stop.

Process Benchmarking:

Process benchmarking is one of the most important factors of the Project identification process. It is a method of comparing company’s internal business processes and its performance measure with that industry’s best practices.

Generally, they are related with quality, time and costs.

For example: Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ), Defects, Cycle Time, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Productivity, and Cost per unit Cost.

For example, a manufacturing company having an Assembly unit benchmark its OEE as 85% as it is Industry’s best practice.

Process Inputs and Outputs:

The inputs signify the flow of data and materials into the process. The processing step includes all tasks required to effect a transformation of the inputs to an output. The results are the data and resources streaming out of the transformation process.

Owners and Stakeholders:

A process owner is responsible for managing a process in a project. Their responsibility includes continuous management and improvement of this process. Understanding how a process interacts with the upstream and downstream processes is what makes a Process Owner the most effective at his job.

For example, a Sales Engineer is responsible for responding to new Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) by new customer. So he is process owner of the business process of Sales.

Stakeholders are those People who are the end user of project or product or any service by which they are getting benefitted.

For example: The users of new ERP system are stakeholders who are getting benefitted by that ERP.

Lean Six Sigma can turn out be a game changer for you and your organization. Process identification is a crucial part of the methodology which might sound like a complex topic and a blog won’t be able to justify the intricacies involved with it. This is why we suggest you to complete your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.