One of first thing you do in a Six Sigma project (during the Define Phase of DMAIC or DFSS) is create the Project Charter. This is usually a one-page document, which lays out all the key aims and parameters of the project.
What are the advantages of using a Project Charter?
- It is a good summary of the project, which people can refer back to if the project gets off target
- It forces you to make a business plan, which will make sure you’ve thought out the justification
- It secures the resources you need for the project
- It ties you down to a timescale, so the project doesn’t escalate out of control
- It formalizes sign off for the project by management
How do you make a Project Charter?
The trick to the Project Charter is to not reinvent the wheel each time you need one. Have a standard Project Charter and just fill in the boxes.
The process is simple – you just create a one or two page spreadsheet which contains the sections you want to cover off (there’s a simple example below).
The main parts you need are:
- Project Name
- Goals of the Project
- Main stakeholders and their needs
- Start Date and Target End Date
- Expected costs
- Expected return on investment
- Project Sponsor
- Project Black Belt (leader)
- Risks and obstacles to the project succeeding
- Other Team members (including roles and time commitment)
- Aims of the project
- Key deliverables and deadlines
It’s often worth getting the team and sponsor to sign the Project Charter, to improve buy-in and formalize the start of the project and the commitment to making it work.
You may want to create a Gantt chart to more clearly lay out the expected timescales for the project at the same time as the Project Charter. Keep in mind though that the Project Charter should be a fixed document, a Gantt Chart will likely be amended as you work on and learn more about the issue, so you’ll probably want to keep the two documents separate.
This is an example that I have seen being used (you’ll note it doesn’t include all the sections above – you can tailor it to suit your business):
You can create a similar template in Excel as your own template (adjusting for the categories above that you want to include). You can then use that for all your projects, and adjust if something can be improved.