Friday, January 16, 2015

Selecting Successful Six Sigma Projects

Project success is the true value of any Six Sigma endeavor. Value, achieved one project at a time, builds success. Six Sigma is more than just problem solving. This means that selecting the right projects becomes critical to success. Knowing that most businesses have limited resources, how should companies set project priorities? 

Six Sigma Project Objectives
  • Support the strategic goals of the organization
  • Impact key strategic business objectives
  • Improve a process in a measurable way
  • Provide a financial contribution to the bottom-line or contribute toward top line growth opportunities
  • Benefit key customers and increase customer satisfaction
Internal vs. External
  1. Projects with an external focus, improvement opportunities, come from asking how or why we are not meeting our customer’s expectations.
  2. Projects with an internal focus, improving process efficiency, come from areas of trouble and frustration. 
In both cases these project opportunities are identified from what we measure. We measure what we value and what gets measured, gets done. A metrics driven reporting system or scorecard is aligned with strategic business objectives and goals. Looking for unsatisfactory performance (gap analysis) identifies opportunities.

Six Sigma Project Evaluation

To determine if an opportunity is a good candidate as a Six Sigma project, be sure to ask these important questions.
  • Is there a gap between current and required performance?
  • Is the cause of the problem unknown?
  • Is there a predetermined solution or optimal improvement method readily apparent?
  • Can the process performance be measured and quantified?
It’s important to avoid getting caught up in providing data to support an already identified solution as well as trying to provide data for something that can’t be easily measured or quantified, two of the most common errors that lead to poor projects and even poorer results. 


Once identified as an approved Six Sigma opportunity, a simple tool such as a Cause and Effect Matrix can assist in setting the project priorities. Upon completion, the matrix provides an overall project value rating and helps feed a project pipeline.

Successful Six Sigma projects will have a high impact and be key to achieving a solid return on investment for an organization and improved satisfaction for customers. Carefully selected projects aligned with strategic organizational goals will help ensure success.

Join us for our next Six Sigma Green Belt class starting this February

For more information on Six Sigma, tools and methodologies, contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at  

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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