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Criteria for choosing projects in six sigma

One of the most important aspects of project success in Six Sigma is choosing the right project. This is important for your company to do because if you do not pick the right project it can end up being a complete disaster or it can cause unnecessary work for the team. The one thing that many people tend to do is to pick the projects that need the most work or they pick the projects that they want to work on without anybody else's input. These strategies can work at times, but this is not always the best approach.

With Six Sigma when choosing which projects to work on you are going to need a reliable approach that allows you to determine if a project is a good Six Sigma project. However, you also need an approach that is going to allow you to prioritize your projects to ensure that your resources are being allocated properly. In order to standardize the selection process you can use a criteria-based selection matrix. Here is a look at the criteria that is involved when choosing a project for six sigma.

Number one: Customer impact
You want to ensure that the successful outcome of the project will have a material impact on the customer's perception of quality. The best way to find out if the project will reach this goal is through a voice-of-the-customer analysis with customer input.

Number two: Process stability
You want to ensure that the process is somewhat stable and if it is a newer process, you want to wait until it has reached a stable level of performance. In this case, stable does not mean that the process is performing, as you want it to. Process stability is important because it is used to assess the impacts of improvements without the disturbance that is created by changes within the process.

Number three: Defect definition
You want to make sure that the defects for the processes are well defined. This is important because if there is not a specific thing that needs to be fixed it is very easy for employees to lose their focus. You do not want to make the final output the measure of defect, but you do want the measure for defects to be something operational in nature. For example, you can use cycle time or error rates to measure the defects.

Number four: Data availability
If the data is not available around the process metrics, you are going to want to make sure that it is at least attainable. While more often than not, the data is not going to be sitting around waiting to be analyzed so you want to make sure that you can at least collect the important data without having to spend a large amount of time, resources, and effort to get the data.

Number five: Impact on service quality
Check to see if the project will contribute to enhancing your company's overall service quality. It is not enough for just your end customers are satisfied, if the process has gotten out of control.

Number six: Project sponsorship and alignment
This is the difference between project success and project failure. You want to have strong sponsorship from your upper management, especially if you want your project to succeed. Having upper management's support is vital for the success of Six Sigma projects. The project should also be inline with the company's goals and objectives because that will help get it funded and even given the go-ahead.

Number seven: Project timeline
You want to make sure that all of the projects you choose can be completed within a certain time. For Six Sigma projects, a good benchmark to use is 6 months. If the project cannot be completed in that, amount of time the chances of it being a good project start to go downwards for each month that it goes over.

Number eight: Probability of implementation
You need to think about the probability of implementing a solution to the problem; you need to take into account how well it is going to be accepted or resisted by the department or members of management. If there is going to be a lot of resistance to the solution you should avoid the project. The resistance or acceptance of the solution can also depend on competing initiatives, changes in strategic objectives, or significant organizational changes.

One thing to remember when choosing a project is that if the solution is already known there is no sense turning it into a Six Sigma project. If you already know the solution simply, apply the solution and skip the DMAIC process.

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