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First stage of the DMAIC, the Define phase has the challenge of launching the 6 Sigma project in the best conditions.


The project charter is the support document for the project whose goal is to obtain the GO / NO GO decision on the launch of the project. We find several sections, and is in this form :

The subject-Business Case

The Business Case is a macro description of the subject that will be processed during the DMAIC process. We need to find in this paragraph the reasons for launching the project and the subjective description of the problem. Very short, this paragraph should capture the attention of the management, be qualitative and not allow a glimpse of solution.

Some examples:

  • Our ability to crimp our vials at the desired rate is not good. If we can solve this problem, we would greatly increase the overall performance of the plant.
  • We do not master the products from the supplier, which forces us to systematically repeat the machine settings. We could increase our productivity significantly if we knew how to master the products as inputs.

Problem definition

The ProblemStatement is a much more precise definition of the issue and above all quantified. We must give all the tangible elements and be able to demonstrate that this project is a priority. We have to find for example the amount of losses due to this quality problem over the last year.

Goals-goal statements

The objectives define the expectations of the project. The objectives must be SMART:

  • Specific: It concerns the defined problem.
  • Measurable: It is measurable in a precise and without doubt.
  • Achievable: with the means you have, you must be able to achieve the goal.
  • Realistic: It is related to a current situation and the company’s strategy.
  • Temporal: It is defined in time.

Some examples:

  • Within 6 months, reduce the release rate from 20% to 10%
  • Under 1 year, reduce stock failures by 40%

Project Perimeter-scope

The perimeter must define the products/service/process… included in the project’s scope of study. It is important to define an acceptable perimeter to prevent the project from becoming unfeasible. It is indeed very probable that a problem leads to other problems that themselves… This endless process can quickly make a problem simple and targeted into a complex problem that it becomes impossible to find the source.

To define the perimeter, one uses a table 5W2His, is not “:

WhatWhich product / service / process is problematic?Which product / service / process is not affected by the problem?
WhoWhich team, service or person in particular, supplier, customer?Who is not affected or impacted by the problem?
WhereOn which factory / service / machine?Which of the plants / services / machines are not impacted?
WhenDate of appearance of the problem?Date we do not take into account?
HowWith what methodology did the problem appear?Which methods do not we take into account, as the problem did not appear?
How muchNumber of occurrence? Trend?Number of occurrence? Trend?

The expected benefits – SBO Linkage

Objectives are defined by translating goal expectations into financial benefits. To do this, we work in collaboration with the financial department to accurately assess the expected financial gains and relate them to the costs of the project. Well identify the categories of earnings1, the Soft and Hard Dollars.

It is in this section that the risks of the project will also be assessed. Risks should be assessed on several topics:

  • The risks of not doing this project in terms of financial, quality…
  • The risks of not meeting the project objectives in terms of human, financial, material resources…


The project team

A 6 Sigma project is never an individual project. A project is based on2 :

  • A project team: from 6 to 8 people with a mastery of the subject impacted by the project.
  • A host of the Project which can be a Green or Black Belt depending on the stakes of the project.
  • A coordinator: either a black belt of experience or a Master black belt, he is the guarantor of the method.
  • A Champion : It is he who has validated the project charter and who will be in charge of following the project and validating the conclusions.
  • Un sponsor : Ayant validé la charte de projet, le sponsor sera présent pour le lancement en indiquant ses attentes et en fin du projet pour féliciter l’équipe.

Project Plan

A 6 Sigma project will depend on its perimeter, its complexity and expectations3 :

  • For small projects (usually driven by a Yellow Belt), generating less than 50 K € in earnings, the forecast will be 1 to 2 days per week for 3 months
  • For a project of medium magnitude (usually driven by a Green Belt), generating between 50 and 200 K € of earnings, the forecast will be 2-3 days per week for 4 months
  • For a large-scale project (usually driven by a Black Belt), generating more than 200 K € in earnings, the planned planning is in the range of 3 to 4 months full-time.

Validating the project request

With the project Charter and other documentation developed during the Define phase (VOC, Sipoc…), the project manager presents the Sponsor The project data to validate the priority and its need, in clear the Go/NO go. To do this, the sponsor must have all the information necessary to decide on the validity of the project and its priority in the implementation. Hence the importance of having all the figures and all the tangible elements to be able to justify the current losses caused by the problems that the potential gains on which the project manager commits and will have to report at the end of the project.


1 – R. M. Meisel, S. J. Babb, S. F. Marsh, J. P. Schlichting (2007) – The Executive Guide to Understanding and implementing Lean Six Sigma: The financial impact

2 – J.N. George (2007) – Business process Management

3 – C. Foster (2005) – Implement the Six Sigma

N. Volck (2009) – Deploy and operate Lean Six Sigma

R. Basu (2011) – Fit Six Sigma: A Lean approach to building sustainable quality beyond Six Sigma

T. Burton, J. L. Sams (2005) – Six Sigma for small and midsized organizations

M. Pillai (2003) – Six Sigma: How to apply it


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