What is a Lean Six Sigma Project Charter?

Every business improvement project comes from somewhere. Often, organisational leaders identify a problem that is having an adverse effect on customers. Although well-intentioned, the next step is that managers immediately try to solve the problem. This can be successful in the short-term. However, in many cases, the same problems reoccur because the systemic issue goes unaddressed. To avoid this, Lean Six Sigma provides frameworks that give improvement teams adequate tools to plan their projects. The project charter is one of the most common tools. In this article we will cover Lean Six Sigma project charters in detail and see how they help improvement teams deliver sustainable results.

What is a Project Charter?

A Project Charter is a simple document that lays out the Lean Six Sigma project along with its goals and scope. The document is intended to support project proposals and provide a high-level framework for process improvement professionals to plan their work.

Project planning and development is a key component of Lean Six Sigma. Organisations commonly make the mistake of failing to plan their work and its long-term effects. While this does not prevent the business from achieving some success in their process improvement, the result is often that businesses have to revisit the same problems over and over. Introducing project charters allows improvement teams to make a fundamental plan that can be presented to managers and used to guide their efforts.

The 6 Components of a Project Charter

Project charters are intended to be high-level overviews of the improvement project. In most cases the documents are short, making them easy to read and excellent tools for improvement teams that want to present their projects to others.

A project charter details 6 components:

  1. Business Case. The primary purpose of developing a project charter is to improve the organisation’s processes. The business case section is devoted to describing why the project benefits the company and why it should receive management support.
  2. Identify the Problem. Problem statements are a brief description of the issue. A problem statement should be simple but specific, and avoid assigning blame or recommending solutions to the issue. If the solution to an issue is simple enough to be understood at this point, a Lean Six Sigma project is likely unnecessary.
  3. Goal Statement. Your goal describes the ultimate outcome of the project. Like problem statements, goal statements should be brief but specific. A good goal follows the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound).
  4. Scope of the Work. The scope describes the limits of the work and what the project includes and excludes. For example, the scope could specify which departments, products or branches of the business will be included in the project.
  5. Project Timeline. To keep the work on track, the project timeline defines important milestones. These typically follow the central DMAIC principles (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control), with milestones being placed at the end of each phase.
  6. Team Structure. Finally, a project charter describes the team members that are required to complete the project. This section will commonly name key stakeholders, team members, the project sponsor and any system experts who will be consulted.

Lean Six Sigma Project Charters as Living Documents

Improvement teams often refer to their project charters as living documents. The phrase “living document” signifies that the details of the charter are not set in stone. While the charter is an excellent way to plan and disseminate an overview of the project, it remains flexible as the work progresses. As improvement teams make their way through each of the DMAIC stages, they will uncover new information that alters the way the project is handled. As a living document, project charters can adapt to these changes, allowing the team to continue their work unabated.

Are You Planning an Improvement Project? Contact Thornley Group Today!

Lean and Six Sigma practices offer valuable tools for businesses from every industry. Identifying and reducing organisational waste can have a marked effect on the quality of products, customer satisfaction and a business’ bottom line. If you have identified problems within your organisation, get in touch with Thornley Group for Lean Six Sigma training. Our courses can be tailored to suit all members of your business, and we train process improvement teams from the ground up. Whether you are interested in our corporate training solutions or simply want to upskill, speak to one of our consultants about our training programs today!

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