Define Phase
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Business Impact

Show your stakeholders why this project is important

 

For transparent on-time communication

Why to use this tool?

When you present your project to management and team members, you want to make sure everyone clearly sees the impact that the project can have on the business. The greater the impact, the greater the likelihood that stakeholders will be interested in your support. The opposite is also true, if you have a topic that has little impact on your business, your stakeholders won't spend the extra time or budget supporting that project.

How to use this tool?

Step 1: Identify a potential project

Step 2: Fill-out the project charter (this is usually written at the same time as the business impact).

Step 3: Describe in a few sentences what is the business impact of not being able to meet goals/objectives.

Step 4: Remember to illustrate the connection of your project with your company’s strategy and goals.

When to use this tool?

The impact on the business should be recorded in the define phase. In some companies, the business impact has been added to the project charter template.

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

Do: Include soft and hard savings.

Do: Write the business impact from a business perspective.

Do: Base your business impact on facts and not assumptions (no gut feelings).

Don’t: Forget to also take the customer´s point of view on how their experience will change once the project is successfully completed.

Don´t: Forget to involve management and subject matter experts when formalizing your business impact.

Don´t: Worry if your “business impact” is in the project charter or not. The bottom line is that you write a business impact in the define phase and make sure it is presented in the kick-off session.

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Communication Plan

For transparent on-time communication

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To keep all key persons in the loop. Keeping people out of scope does not promote collaboration. Therefore, a good communication plan will reduce resistance and increase understanding and acceptance of what is planned in your project or initiative.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: List all people who are supposed to receive communication.

Step 2: Decide what the key messages to convey will be.

Step 3: Determine the communication frequency and dates.

Step 4: Plan the type of media used in each communication. For example, via newsletter, email, meetings, etc.

Step 5: Assign a person who will be responsible for each communication.

Step 6: Create a detailed agenda for each communication element.

 

Note: You can use the template shown in the video for easy creation.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

In the define phase, at the beginning of each project or initiative.

 

 

3 Dos and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Create a communication plan with the project sponsor.

Do: Treat this point as an important task, especially if you think there may be a lot of resistance.

Do: Use the communication plan to reduce resistance levels and inform stakeholders about project updates.

 

Don’t: Forget to evaluate whether communication should also be passed on to non-employees. For example, vendors, external providers, clients, etc.

Don´t: Forget to create information in such a way that it sheds positive light on the project and brings everyone closer to the company’s vision and mission.

Don´t: Forget to announce the end of the project. Many times, projects are closed, and final communication is not sent.

 
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CT Tree

Critical-to-Tree better defines your project scope

Why to use this tool?

 

To identify projects that are related to customer expectations and help define the scope of the project

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Identify what is the VOC (voice of the customer)

Step 2: Break it down into smaller groups of customer “wishes”.

Step 3: Select one of the topics and open a new branch where you can identify the areas of the company that provide this kind of service.

Step 4: Decide on one area to focus on and open a new “tree” branch where we will identify the departments involved in such a customer service.

Step 5: Decide on one department and open a new tree branch and divide it down into different teams that provide this service to the customer.

Step 6: Choose one of the teams and open a new branch by breaking it down into team key processes.

Step 7: Identify the process we want to focus on and then establish a new project related to that process. The results from this project will have a positive impact on the entire tree branches until they reach the customer who will notices the change.

Note: Further projects can be identified by moving horizontally up the tree and opening new branches.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

This is done in the define phase when we select a new project. Some companies like to call it pre-define phase, because we are in the phase of selecting a project pipeline. Once we have identified the project, we can use the CT Tree to help us define the scope of the project.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Drill down using a new branch on the area that has the greatest impact to the VOC.

Do: Create the CT tree with management and people closest to the customer.

Do: Focus on one branch at a time. If you want to explore into a different branch, use a new file/page.

 

Don’t: Make assumptions about what a VOC might be. Here you need to collect VOC directly from the source.

Don´t: Drill down on the branches that have less significance or correlation to the VOC.

Don´t: Focus on topics beyond our control.

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Customer Clarification

Who are your customers really and what do they expect?

 

Why to use this tool?

 

Every process has an “output” and it is important to know who is the customer receiving these “outputs”. If you do not know who your customer is, you do not know if you meet with their expectations.

It is also important to clarify whether the customer in an internal customer (for example, the next department in the value stream) or an actual external customer.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Use the template called, “Internal / External Customer”. Once you know the process name, enter the internal and external customer in the table. Next, enter their expectations. You can do this by conducting interviews, looking at historical data, or by creating a new data collection plan and starting the analysis. Do not follow your “gut feelings” in this case.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

When searching for a project: This tool can be used when searching for new projects. Once you’ve identified your customer, you will start analyzing their expectations directly from the source. If there is a discrepancy between their expectations and your delivery of a service or product, you’ve found a new project :-)

When starting a new project: Once you have a project, it is important to use this tool during the project kick-off session.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Brainstorm who are all the customers who are getting the results of the process.

Do: Interview some of the customers directly.

Do: Convert high-level VOC statements into measurable indicators.

 

Don’t: Follow your gut feelings.

Don´t: Avoid creating a data collection plan.

Don´t: Forget to inform the customer about the improved process once the project has been completed.

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Data Sources

Everyone should know where their data comes from

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To get stakeholders support, it is important that everyone understands where your data is coming from. If they are convinced that you are using reliable data to show the current problem, you will have green light to progress on your project.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Identify the defect you want to eliminate (or reduce).

Step 2: Fill out the project charter (usually written at the same time as the data sources).

Step 3: Describe in 1-4 sentences where the data comes from? How did you calculate the current defect level?

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

The data sources should be written in the define phase. In some companies, this part has been added to the project charter template.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Use reliable and accurate data (at least 30 data points).

Do: Get a thumbs up from your project team signaling they agree with the data.

Do: Together with the project sponsor and subject matter expert, review the source of your data.

 

 

Don’t: Forget to use the concepts of MSA (Measurement System Analysis).

Don´t: Make it look like rocket science.

Don´t: Show stakeholder data without explaining how you got it. For example, if you collected the data yourself, explain the process on how you collected the data and how you tested the reliability of this data.

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Defect Definition

To explain what your project is about and create a clear focus

 

Why to use this tool?

 

You will be able to:

  • know exactly what your project is about

  • have a measurable goal

  • compare the before and after results of your project

  • measure sigma levels

  • calculate process capability.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Listen to VOC and VOB.

Step 2: Define what is the CTQ (critical to quality) that is linked to the VOC and VOB.

Step 3: Link it to an existing KPI or create a new KPI.

Step 4: Define USL (upper specification limit) and LSL (lower specification limit).

Step 5: Write in one sentence what is the definition of your defect (either in the project charter if this space is available or using the WAVE template).

Step 6: Count how many times the data is out of range for USL and LSL.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

The definition of “the defect” should be completed in the define phase.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Extract defect definition from VOC / VOB.

Do: Align with your project sponsor / process owner.

Do: Write the definition of “defect” on a separate page in your project documentation or in your project charter document.

 

Don’t: Assume what the definition of a defect might be.

Don´t: “Invent” the defect definition yourself because it must be defined by VOC/VOB.

Don´t: Have more than one defect definition per project.

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Evaluating Resistance Level

To know where we stand

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To find out what the resistance to repair the process is. The results will influence how we should develop a communication plan and stakeholder analysis.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Distribute the template as a survey to all stakeholders.

Step 2: Evaluate the results. If scores are high, we can plan for the project to receive good support. If the results are low, then we will potentially have resistance or no interest in the project.

Step 3: If scores are low, it is a good time to assess whether the project should be executed and if so, conduct a stakeholder analysis.

Step 4: Adjust the communication plan according to the survey results.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

In the define phase, at the beginning of the project.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Send the survey to everyone involved in the process.

Do: Make the survey anonymous.

Do: Use this as an optional tool.

 

Don’t: Make immediate conclusions when you get bad survey results. Use a tool called 5 Whys where you keep asking “why?” until you come to the root cause of those problem. This will help you create a better communication plan.

Don´t: Carry out the survey without consulting your project sponsor.

Don´t: Start the survey without an approval of the works council (mainly if you work in Germany).

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FACT Model

Defines “what is quality” and explains your project focus

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To clarify:

  • Project scope

  • The quality aspect to be improved in the process

  • The kind of data we are going to collect

  • The overall performance of the end-to-end process

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Use the FACT model template to describe:

Fulfillment - To what extent does your process performance meet customer requirements (in volumes)?

Accuracy – What is the process defect rate? How accurately do the results meet customer expectations?

Cycle Time – Are the process outputs (products and services) delivered within the expected time frames?

Treatment – How is the customer’s experience? Was the customer satisfied while working with us? Did we act professionally? Were we friendly? Was the website and our email correspondence user-friendly?

Note: Highlight the focus area for your project. This will clarify the scope and type of data. If possible, you can also add the metrics corresponding to each of these areas.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

In the define phase of your project. You can even present this template at the project kick-off presentation.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Write a description for all 4 categories.

Do: Highlight the area of focus.

Do: Focus your project on only one of these categories at a time.

 

Don’t: Assume you have a good process when only one of the 4 categories has a good score. You need to have a good score in all 4 categories.

Don´t: Forget that the 4 KPI´s that result from the FACT model can also be used for the process owner´s dashboard/white board.

Don´t: Underestimate the “Treatment” category. If your process scores 100% for fulfilment, accuracy, and cycle time, but has a poor treatment score, your customers will still not be happy with your services and products.

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Identify the Need and Resistance for Change

To unlock the reason why we need to change

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To be able to analyze together with the team whether “the need for change” is higher than the “resistance level” to do the project and optimize the process. We use this tool when we are not sure that everyone understands the criticality of the project and feels questionable motivation to support this initiative.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Invite all process stakeholders for a short brainstorming session.

Step 2: Start with the template called “Drivers for Change”.

Step 3: Ask a group: “What is the risk if we do not change anything?” Give them a few minutes to brainstorm and come up with ideas that fit into the short-term and long-term time frames (see template).

Step 4: Ask the group: “What are the opportunities if we change?” Give them a few minutes to brainstorm and come up with ideas that fit into the short-term and long-term time frames.

Step 5: Have everyone present their ideas and rate the criticality (high, medium, low) next to each point.

Step 6: Now go to the next template called “Sources of resistance”.

Step 7:  Ask the group: “What is the risk if we change?” Give them a few minutes to brainstorm and come up with ideas that fit into the short-term and long-term time frames.

Step 8: Ask the group: “What are the opportunities if do not change anything?” Give them a few minutes to brainstorm and come up with ideas that fit into the short-term and long-term time frames.

Step 9: Have everyone present their points and rate the criticality (high, medium, low) next to each point.

Step 10: Analyze both templates and see what makes more sense in the long run.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

In the define phase.

           

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Combine this activity with the kick-off session, if needed.

Do: Invite the project sponsor to view the results and decide on next steps.

Do: At the end, a N / 3 tool could be used to have everyone mark the most important points that relate to the company's mission and vision.

Don’t: Always use this tool. Only use it if you feel that your stakeholders / project team members are not convinced of the upcoming project.

Don´t: Let others to discard the points from their colleagues.

Don´t: Forget that each person should present their points.

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“Opportunities” Definition

To be able to describe what is the process outcome all about

 

Why to use this tool?

 

You will be able to:

  • know what the “output” of your end-to-end process is

  • count the number of opportunities we have each time a service or product is processed

  • calculate the sigma level (here you will also need the counted number of defects).

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Listen to VOC and VOB.

Step 2: Define the CTQ (critical to quality) that is linked to VOC and VOB.

Step 3: Link it to an existing KPI or create a new KPI.

Step 4: Define USL (upper specification limit) and LSL (lower specification limit).

Step 5: Write in one sentence what the definition of your opportunity is (either in the project charter if this space is available, or by using the WAVE template). This is usually done at the same time as you write your “defect definition”.

Step 6: Count the number of times the process is “triggered” and this will be the number of opportunities we have in the process to get it right or wrong. It can also be seen as the “volumes” that enter the process.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

The definition of “opportunity” should be completed in the define phase at the same time as you define your defect.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Extract the opportunity definition from the VOC / VOB.

Do: Align with your project sponsor / process owner.

Do: Write the definition of “opportunity” on a separate page in your project documentation or in your project charter document.

 

Don’t: Make an assumption about the definition of an opportunity.

Don´t: Forget to use this together with your defect definition. Both numbers (defect and opportunity) will allow you to calculate your sigma level / process performance, defect rate, DPMO and yield.

Don´t: Have more than one definition of opportunity per project.

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ORPI

To get the key messages across

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To make sure we covered all important messages at the beginning of our kick-off session, workshop, new initiatives, or new corporate programs.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: When preparing for the kick-off meeting, make sure you have everything prepared in your speech that covers topic “Objectives”. If necessary, you can also create visualizations to accentuate your objectives.

Step 2: Make clear to everyone their role and responsibilities in achieving these goals. Go one by one and ask the group if they are comfortable in their roles.

Step 3: Communicate to everyone how you plan to achieve these objectives. In other words, show them the roadmap. For example: workshop 1 is about identifying the problem, workshop 2 covers the root causes, workshop 3 is about solutions, then creation of an action plan, etc. This way everyone knows what the project plan and timeline look like.

Step 4: Interpersonal Relationships: Make sure everyone feels that we are working in a safe environment and that everyone needs to support and trust each other. Before selecting the team members, you can talk to the project sponsor to see if there are people who do not work well together. This way, we can avoid conflicts from the beginning of the project.

Step 5: (Optional) Give everyone a template to evaluate to what extent each of the ORPI steps has been considered. In case we get results below 80%, we should discuss this point before closing the meeting. The goal is to reach 80% or more in all 4 areas.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

This tool should be used in the define phase.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Integrate the ORPI tool into any situation, even if you feel you need to skip one of the 4 areas of the tool.

Do: Ask participants to paraphrase or rephrase key messages.

Do: Use the ORPI tool even when you are not doing Lean Six Sigma projects.

 

Don’t: Need to use the template as a survey at the end of the kick-off, it is only optional. As a facilitator, you can check that everyone understood the topics covered in ORPI. You can have them paraphrase or rephrase, to make sure everyone understood.

Don´t: Forget that you can use ORPI as your guideline preparation of the beginning of each workshop or kick-off.

Don´t: Need to inform your stakeholders that you are using this tool. They might not even notice that you are applying this technique. It is important to know that you have covered all 4 ORPI areas.

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Project Charter

The must-have tool to start any project

 

Why to use this tool?

 

It serves as a document to be agreed with the project sponsor on the reasons why the specific project should be run. Once the project charter is filled out, it can be used to communicate with everyone involved in this project. It explains “why” we are doing this project and what we want to achieve.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Together with your manager or a project sponsor, agree on the content of the project charter. Start with the project title, which should include a verb followed by the name of the process and, if applicable, add a measurable goal. For example: “improve process ……. by …. %”.

Then, write a high-level business case and explain why the project is valuable. Also explain what will happen if this project is not carried out.

Describe what your project should focus on, and which areas are within scope of the project. Also describe what does not belong to the project, and this will be called out of scope.

Define key performance indicators (metrics) for the project. This should include your current performance and target performance.

The problem statement should be short, and it needs to be linked to the metrics mentioned. The problem must be measurable.

The goal needs to be a smart goal that is measurable and attainable. There should be no more than one main goal per project.

The expected financial impact should only be a forecast that can be adjusted over the course of the project.

In the Team members section, include all project participants. SME stands for “subject matter expert”.

The timeframe should include the start date, end date and key milestones.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

This is a must-have tool at the beginning of any project. Once a measurable problem has to be resolved, it is the right moment to create a project charter. It should be completed before the project kick-off session.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Complete the charter together with manager and project sponsor before the kick-off session with the project team.

Do: Link the goal statement with the problem statement. There needs to be a direct correlation between the two.

Do: Describe the problem statement in a measurable way – using metrics.

 

Don’t: Write potential solutions.

Don´t: Mention potential root causes.

Don´t: Forget to mention the benefits the client gets from this project.

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SIPOC

For the project team to understand the complete picture

 

Why to use this tool?

 

This tool will help everyone understand the end-to-end process. It will help us see the “complete picture” of the process we want to optimize.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

SIPOC stands for, “Supplier”, “Input”, “Process”, “Output”, “Customer.”

Step 1: Start with “P” for “Process” and illustrate your end-to-end process from a high-level perspective (Process Map Level 1). This should have approximately 4-8 activities.

Step 2: In the column “Output”, write down what comes from this process. It could be a service, report, transaction, product, etc.

Step 3: Write down who is the customer of these outputs under the column “Customer.”

Step 4: In the “Input” column, write down what inputs trigger your process.

Step 5: In the “Supplier” section, list who the supplier of the inputs of your process is. In other words, the person, company, or department that provides input to your process.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

SIPOC should be used in most projects at the beginning, in the define phase. It can be done right after the project charter.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Start with a “P” for process.

Do: Use SIPOC at the project kick-off meeting.

Do: Get approval from subject matter experts that the SIPOC is correctly filled-out.

 

Don´t: Put too many process steps under the letter “P” for process.

Don´t: Forget to check which “Outputs” are generated internally and externally.

Don´t: Create SIPOC by yourself.

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SMART Goal

To establish excellent goals

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To have proper and a clear goal, this will motivate the project team to collaborate with you throughout the project.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: Listen to VOC and VOB.

Step 2: Define what is the CTQ (critical to quality) that is linked to the VOC and VOB.

Step 3: Link it to an existing KPI or create a new KPI.

Step 4: Define USL (upper specification limit) and LSL (lower specification limit).

Step 5: Measure the current performance status of the process (where are we today?).

Step 6: Check what is the gap between the current process performance and desired customer / business expectations.

Step 7: Set a SMART with a template that will help you write the goal the way that it is going to be:

  • Specific (describe exactly what needs to be achieved)

  • Measurable (make it measurable)

  • Achievable (the goal must be attainable)

  • Realistic (needs to be realistic)

  • Timeframe (should be attainable within a specific timeframe).

Note: You do not need 5 sentences for the SMART goal. You can summarize all of the above points in one or two sentences.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

SMART goals are written in the define phase and it should be written in the project charter template.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Get the goal approved with the project sponsor.

Do: Verify with project team that everyone has understood the goal statement.

Do: Link the goal statement one-to-one with the problem statement that appears in the project charter.

 

Don’t: Write the goal without consulting VOC/VOB. (Avoid having management or SME´s set a goal they believe to be right, as their assumptions may differ from client’s expectations).

Don´t: Set a goal without knowing the status-quo of process performance.

Don´t: Forget to include all components from the 5 (S.M.A.R.T.) categories in your 1-2 sentences.

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Stakeholder Analysis

To reduce potential roadblocks

 

Why to use this tool?

 

To reduce the level of resistance and encourage employees to collaborate with our project or initiative.

 

 

How to use this tool?

 

Step 1: You can start with this tool even before sending the invitation to the kick-off session. Together with your project sponsor, write down all the key names (stakeholders) who will be involved in the upcoming project.

Step 2: Assess the level of support you both think will be received from each person.

  • Ranking -2 = the person is totally against supporting this project.

  • Ranking -1 = the person is slightly against supporting this project.

  • Ranking 0 = the person is neutral on this project (not positive and not negative).

  • Ranking 1 = the person is positive about this project and will provide support.

  • Ranking 2 = the person is very positive about this project and will be delighted to provide support.

Step 3: For those ranked -2 and -1, write down the potential source of resistance.

Step 4: For each source of resistance, write down whether it is a technical, political, or cultural.

Technical:

  • There is resistance because this person may not be able to deal with the upcoming changes due to the lack of skills. The person might feel that they will have trouble learning new things.

  • Mindset: The process has been like this since the last few years. Why change it now?

  • The person is under pressure due to cost reduction initiatives undertaken in the company.

Political:

  • They might feel “threatened” with a new structure that may come.

  • They think they can lose power and authority.

Cultural:

  • This person has selective perception of the project or initiative.

  • Person might be trapped in old mindset and is afraid to let go.

Step 5: Now that we have potential sources of resistance for each scored (-2) and (-1), come up with an influence strategy. Brainstorm how to get these people to reach a higher score. Be creative. There are more roads leading to the solution.

Step 6: Assign an owner to each influence strategy.

Step 7: Set the deadlines for completing these influence strategies.

Step 5: Now that we have potential sources of resistance for each person scored (-2) and (-1), come up with an influence strategy. Brainstorm how to get these people to get a higher score. Be creative. There are more roads to the solution.

Step 6: Assign an owner to each influence strategy.

Step 7: Set deadlines for completing these impact strategies.

Step 8: Make an action plan and reassess the level of support from everyone.

 

 

When to use this tool?

 

This tool should be used in the define phase.

 

 

3 Do´s and 3 Don’ts:

 

Do: Keep this document confidential (for the eyes of the project sponsor and project manager only).

Do: Make regular updates (every 1-2 weeks) to see how your support level is doing.

Do: Not ignore those with support level “0”. It would be great if they also had more than “+1” or a “+2”.

 

Don’t: Forget to keep the ones with “+1” or a “+2” support level excited and engaged.

Don´t: Forget to save the document in a folder where no one has access to.

Don´t: Print out the document. There is always a greater risk that someone will see it. It is best to have it as a soft copy on a secure drive.

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