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How Can I Start My Lean Six Sigma Initiative?

With so many quality improvement projects to choose from, it can be difficult to prioritize which projects meet company goals and which ones don't.As I mentioned in a previous post, it can be difficult to start a quality improvement project when there are so many tools to choose from. However, it can be even harder to start your entire Lean Six Sigma initiative when you have several (maybe even hundreds!) of opportunities for quality improvement staring at you. As our friend Omar pointed out in the comments, completing a project prioritization matrix is a good place to start when you need to choose which projects to focus on.

 

What is a project prioritization matrix?

A project prioritization matrix can help you logically select optimal improvement projects by plotting potential projects against their weighted value, based on your company’s predefined metrics. The matrix will help you determine which projects offer the most value for your effort. If you’re already familiar with the C&E matrix—think of the project prioritization matrix as a C&E matrix of potential projects versus weighted project values based on company metrics you want to influence.

The matrix can help you answer the following questions:

• What effects do proposed projects have on company
metrics, such as cash flow, cycle time, cost savings,
inventory turns, capacity, environmental benefits, and
customer satisfaction?

• Which projects are most attractive based on both their
benefits and ease of completion?

• What is the effect on project priorities due to a change in the weighting of company metrics?

The steps:
1. Develop a list of selection criteria you want to improve. For example, if you’re a sports bar owner, your criteria for valuable projects might include food and/or service quality.

2. Apply a weighting factor to the criteria, which is typically made on a 1 to 10 scale. It’s most common for the criteria to be labeled with 1 being a negative effect and 10 a positive effect.

3. Develop a list of the potential projects and determine the score for each project relative to the selection criteria. Again, using a 1 to 10 scale is usually the easiest way to go.

4. Figure each project’s weighted value by taking the sum of each project score multiplied by the weight of the selection criteria.

5. Assign an ease-of-completion (EOC) value for each project (1 to 10 scale) to help you estimate how easy it is to successfully complete a project.

Your matrix and calculations should look something like this:
   Quality Companion template for a Project Prioritization Matrix
This matrix was completed using the template in Companion by Minitab. Companion’s project prioritization matrix template makes it easy to see which projects will provide the most value for the least effort—which is essential knowledge for anyone starting a Lean Six Sigma initiative. The matrix can also help you stay organized and on top of project currently in queue for completion.
  
Companion automatically produces graphs based upon the input you list in the project matrix template.
   
If you’re using Companion to complete your project matrix, the software automatically produces several graphs, including an ease of completion versus weighted value by project graph (shown above). Companion also makes it easy to continually update your matrix and accompanying graphs with new potential projects and changes to the weight of project values.
  
Have you used a project prioritization matrix to help start your Lean Six Sigma initiative?
  
 

 

Comments

Name: Omar Mora • Sunday, October 20, 2013

Carly,
Thanks for this post. The project proritization matriz is a very important tool in project management
Allow me to contribute a little more.
In my humble experience when LEAN Six Sigma Black Belts try to use this matrix they face another challenge, a more fundamental question: How do we define our company´s project selection-priority criteria?
If you start using the project proritization matrix without your priority criteria, trust me, it will be ugly. The team will waste time and walk into avenues leading to no-where.
I have used with success two tools to define the criteria:

Idea Maps and Ballots.

With Idea Maps, used as mindmapping, the team can facilitate brainstorm and affinity diagrams and then translate those ideas into options to be weighted using Ballots.
And of course, all these tools are available in Quality Companion.
It would be great to show our LEAN Six Sigma community and project management fellows the powerful combintation of Idea maps + ballots + project prioritization.
Well, just an idea.
Omar Mora


Name: Carly Barry • Monday, October 21, 2013

Hi Omar - Thanks for reading and for your comments. I think you present a great idea for a follow-up blog post: one that goes into more information about using the tools in Companion to help define project selection priority criteria. I'll try to cover this topic in an upcoming post.

Thanks again!
Carly


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