Project Management

Project Management is the responsibility by the GB/BB. The GB/BB must manage the team cohesiveness, synergy, and deliver technical results and satisfy the voice of the customer. One of the top selling books regarding Project Management is shown on the left, the PMBOK guide.

There is a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by the Project Management Institute.

This certification is independent of the certification as a Black Belt or Green Belt. It can be very helpful to foster team member engagement and transformation leading to fundamental change.

Leaders of projects gain power when they know you care. The team will care more about what you know when they know you care about them. Pay attention to their needs to improve your influence.

A Project Manager's job in part is asking the right questions and properly interpreting the data and statistics.

You are not expected to have the answers for the team's problem statement, but rather to manage the project from start to finish.

A step function improvement almost certainly depends on cultural transformation. A strong grasp of statistics, charts, graphs, and tactical improvements are not enough.

PMP Certification

The PMP certification must be supported by:

  • Documented project management experience
  • 35 hours of project management training
  • >60% on 200 multiple choice question exam (only 175 questions are graded and 25 questions are experimental questions from the current edition of the PMBOK) 
  • A GB/BB/MBB can be a master of the Six Sigma concepts, author books, generate clever templates, create professional presentations and so on, but if they are unable to lead a team, asks the difficult questions, cultivate change, influence culture, the chances of being successful are slim.

    The credibility of that person and the program are also compromised. Six Sigma teams sizes typically consist of 6-12 members. Some of the members may be GB’s, other BB’s but not a requirement. Projects usually take 2-26 weeks to complete depending on many factors.

    The team closes out the project when complete and disbands. Each team needs a project contract, also referred to as a charter, before the DMAIC or DFSS process can begin.

    The project contract should have at a minimum: 

    1) Project Title or Identification Number 

    2) Problem Statement – detail the problem to improve with numbers and time frames. Avoid bias or any indication of a solution in the statement. State only facts, refrain from opinions or accusations. 

    3) Business Objective – included information should be SMART

    SPECIFIC – detailed information on the process or customer voice
    MEASURABLE – current and desired goal, may be more than one metric
    ATTAINABLE – within the teams control, not jeopardized from the start
    RELEVANT – aligns with the company objectives, values, and vision
    TIMELY – defined start and expected completion dates, use a Gantt Chart 

    4) Financial Benefits Review and quantification - This should involve financial and managerial accountants along with the GB, BB, and/or MBB. It is important to quantify as accurately as possible including the timing. Properly distinguishing between hard and soft savings is critical.

    Hard savings are defined as actual money saved or not spent as planned.

    Soft savings are intangible improvements such as shifting work tasks, improving customer perception, and reducing failure risks. 

    5) Team members – signatures, roles, and date of initiation (may not be firm at this point) 

    6) Process Owner – One team member that will take over control and manage the gains after the project is closed. This person could be the GB/BB leading the project but is not in most cases. Someone that is close to the process and willing to take on the responsibility of controlling the gains after the team disbands. 

    7) Champion/Sponsor – This person is a senior level executive or manager. This person will remain out of the in depth participation with the team. But will remain connected to provide project initial direction and guidance without suggesting a course or solution. They remove organizational barriers, supply resources, and promote team efforts. They serve as the communication link to upper management. This may be a Master Black Belt. 

    8) Scope – defined start and finish (upper and lower) boundaries of the project to stay within while achieving objective. 

    9) Upper Management Approval - contract submitted to upper management and must receive their approval. Upper management may also attend this approval to address the team and elaborate on the importance and to show connectivity.

    When the project contract is completed it should show a direct link from the team members, leader, GB/BB, to upper management. The team now has the autonomy to operate within the conditions with in the contract. However, contract stipulations are negotiable, information will evolve from the teams efforts.

    Changes to the project contract can occur within the scope, resource needs, or the objective. It does not need to be perfect for the team to start. It never hurts to have ideas to put a break in the monotony, icebreaker activities can refresh, liven, and even calm a group. 

    Some of this material can be challenging, dry, and tough to make interesting. Icebreakers are quick tricks for trainers to get their group warmed-up or revived. They are useful in group development and can be used in later phases to challenge assumptions or drive key messages such as synergy and teamwork.

    Project Management Tools

    There are seven common project management tools that Six Sigma project managers should be familiar with:

    1) Matrix Diagram
    2) Tree Diagram
    3) Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC)
    4) Activity Network Diagram
    5) Interrelationship Diagraph (ID)
    6) Affinity Diagram
    7) Prioritization Matrix (also used in MEASURE phase)

    Project Management Metrics

    Project Management status is often expressed in a multi-dimensional term called Earned Value (EV). This offers more than just the budget based on the schedule but examines the budget spent based on what is actually done and what is budgeted at completion.

    EV = ACTUAL % Complete * Amount Budgeted at Completion

    Schedule Performance Index (SPI) is a term used to describe the status of the project at a given time. The rate at which the project is meeting schedule expectations.

    PV = Planned Value
    PV = PLANNED % Complete * Amount Budgeted at Completion

    SPI = EV / PV

    A value of 1.0 means the project is ON schedule.
    A value <1.0 means the project is BEHIND schedule.
    A value >1.0 means the project is AHEAD of schedule.

    Cost Performance Index (CPI) is a term used to describe the rate which the project is meeting cost expectations.

    AC = Actual Costs
    AC = sum of all costs spent up to the given period of time

    CPI = EV / AC

    A value of 1.0 means the project is exactly ON budget.
    A value <1.0 means the project is OVER budget.
    A value >1.0 means the project is AHEAD of budget.

    There are many other forms of measuring the status of Project Management, a separate topic of study that is much more in depth than presented here.

    Many GB/BB's are not taught these in Six Sigma courses. However, they are simple and adequate measures to be familiar with to assess the team's performance or those that you are mentoring.

    Accelerate your DMAIC project

    Click here to review ideas with varying levels of risk and effort to reduce the time to close your project.

    Critical Path

    One of the most commonly used terms in Project Management is Critical Path. This is often more difficult than it sounds and can change as the project progresses. Shown below are two tutorials we recommend that aren't too long yet offer a comprehensive simplistic review of the calculation and variations. 

    Proceed to the DMAIC Six Sigma Project Path

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