A Lean Six Sigma Project Charter is a one-page document that summarises the key preliminary information of a process improvement project.
The charter should be presented to the project sponsor for approval and acceptance of the project.
This article includes a free template for download as well as a comprehensive guide on how to complete a project charter. Continue reading to learn how to improve the quality and success rates of your Lean Six Sigma projects.
Table of Contents
What is a Lean Six Sigma Project charter?
A project charter is a one-page document that outlines the key initial information of a process improvement project. The charter is completed with all the information necessary to provide the project team and key stakeholders with a clear understanding of what problem the project is looking to address.
The Lean Six Sigma project charter is the initial document completed by the project manager with the project team to communicate the purpose of the project, outline the project scope and sets out the expected deliverables of the project to key stakeholders.
Although the charter is the first document you complete, it is not just completed at the start of the project and left it is classed as a living document that the project manager and team will update and review throughout the project life cycle.
Why use a Project Charter?
The documentation of a project on a project charter by the project manager and project team allowed for creating a clear understanding of the following:
- Clarity – Creating clarity and a common understanding of the problem the project is seeking to address.
- Goal – Creating a clear goal for what the project should achieve.
- Outline – Create an outline of the resources, team members, milestones, risks and constraints and estimated benefit of the project.
- Scope – Define the scope of the project
- Reference – Provide a reference point for the project throughout to confirm project direction is in line with the goals.
- Alignment – To check the alignment of the project goals with the organisation’s goals.
Once a project charter has been completed with the data and facts available at the start of the project the charter should then be presented to the project sponsor for sign-off signalling that the project charter is approved. Often a financial controller may be required to also sign off the required resources and agree that the benefits estimates are realistic.
How to complete a Project Charter
The lean six sigma project charter is completed by the project manager with the support of the project team who will be involved by providing input and key information about the current problem. This is done with the project team as in most cases the project manager will not have a complete understanding of what the problem is, what a realistic deliverable or goal is, the resources required to achieve the goal or all the risks and constraints of the project.
Lean Six Sigma Problem Definition
Therefore, the first step in completing a project charter is identifying and forming a project team of subject matter experts (SMEs) who will be able to support the project manager in the completion of the project charter.
Once the team is formed the business case/ problem definition of the project should be developed to provide a clear understanding of what the problem is that the project is seeking to address. As much as possible in the defined stage of the project, this should evidence the following:
- What the problem is?
- Where the problem is?
- When the problem occurs?
- Why does the problem need addressing?
- How big is the problem?
This is known as developing a 5W1H problem definition and by answering all of these questions in a concise statement you will develop a clear understanding of what the project is seeking to address. This is often referred to as an elevator pitch for the project, allowing the project manager to quickly explain the purpose of the project and get sponsor and stakeholder support with a quick statement.
The problem statement should also include measurable information about the problem so that the current state is quantifiable and measurable against the goal statement to allow for the calculation of the estimated benefits.
Lean Six Sigma Goal Statement
Now that you understand the problem and where the project is starting from, the next section to complete the goal state. This section should be a statement that sets out the goals of the project and what the expected results will be once the team solves the problem identified. This section should include quantifiable results to measure the success of the project and support calculations of the estimated benefits when compared to the current state.
The goal statement should focus on the expected results of the project. Goal statements should be set as SMART goals so that they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Lean Six Sigma Team Members
The next section you can complete is the team members section. Firstly you should have the names of the subject matter experts you will rely on for the completion of the project which could include process operators, engineering, process owners, health and safety or any other roles that would have the expert knowledge required to address the issue. You will have an initial team at the start of the charter, however, as you develop an understanding of the problem it may be that further SMEs are required.
It is helpful to state their initial roles and responsibilities early in the project to indicate how they can contribute to the success of the project. Then estimate the hours needed to support the project to give an early indication of the human resource support needed for the project and support sign-off of the support being released to support the project by the project sponsor.
It is recommended that either a certified lean six sigma green belt or a certified lean six sigma black belt supports the project depending on the size and scope to oversee and provide guidance and direction as the project developed.
Lean Six Sigma Milestones
Milestones are set on the project charter to provide targets for the progress of the project. This enables us to assess how the project is progressing against milestones set out at the start of the project and should be reviewed regularly to check the project is on track and make adjustments as needed if the project falls behind schedule.
Lean Six Sigma Risks and Constraints
The Risks and Constraints section allows for the forecasting of potential events or dependencies that could impact the project’s execution, timeline, budget or quality.
Lean Six Sigma Estimated Benefits
Lean Six Sigma projects should result in benefits to the business both financial and non-financial benefits such as time and quality. In this section of the charter based on the problem statement and the goal statement, it should be possible to calculate any financial, quality and time-saving benefits of the project to inform the sign-off sponsor of the estimated benefits of the project.
This section can be updated later in the project as further details and understanding around the project materialise leading to improved benefits estimates.
Lean Six Sigma Stakeholder sign off
Finally, once all the other sections of the project charter are completed it is time to present it to the project sponsor for sign-off and agreement to support the project.
Project sponsor sign-off is vitally important as the sponsor is usually someone with a degree of power and influence over the business and will be someone you need to support you in the event of actions or situations in the business that prevent project progression such as capital expenditure or making changed to production lines.
Free Project Charter Template Download
Download our Free Microsoft Excel Lean Six Sigma project charter and improve the quality and success rates of your Lean six sigma projects. This template comes with all the standard sections you need to complete for a Lean Six Sigma project. Whether you are a Six Sigma black belt or new to continuous improvement projects this template will guide you to creating a good project charter and consider all of the key information before submitting it to your project sponsor.
In conclusion, the project charter is a key document to use in any lean six sigma project, it is the first document completed to provide an overview of the project that can be understood easily and quickly by all key stakeholders making it a vital communication document. The project charter should be constantly reviewed and updated as the project progresses.
The project charter sets out all the key information needed to start the project including what the problem is, the goal of the project, the resources required, risks and constraints, and project benefits and is signed off by the project sponsor confirming the project is approved to proceed.