The Pyzdek Institute Project Charter – A forgotten but an extremely important tool

April 20th, 2012

Why create a charter it seems just like busy work? I mean the boss wants this done NOW why waste the time on creating a charter? Good questions, but I can guarantee you a charter is NOT a waste of your time, nor the bosses time either. Do you remember the school yard game where you would line up and tell the person next to you something and have them pass it on. What was said at the end of the line? Was it ever the same thing? I’d say NO. Why is that? Because as much as we think we state things clearly the receiver never gets it exactly like what we said. I see this all the time in training and working in teams. We are such a diverse group of people that our individual picture of what is said gets mixed with what we know and that changes the thought.

So we write a charter to capture the “true” reason we are doing the project. It is the best way to capture and pass on what you are doing. With out it your team may get lost very quickly as the direction at the beginning is slightly different in everyone’s mind.

The charter is more than a simple statement of the project objective. It hold a lot of information so everyone gets the same “picture” of what we are doing. Some things in a charter may seem redundant but they are not. They are stating the approach to the issue in a slightly different way so other will get the complete picture of what is happening. You will find that you will come back to the charter time and again to bring the team back on task for what they were brought together to accomplish. So lets look at what should be in your charter.

The Header Block

  • Project Name
  • Black/ Green Belt Name & Telephone Number – Who will be the project Lead and their phone number
  • Sponsor Name – Who will be the project Sponsor

Note: A sponsor is ALWAYS needed. The Sponsor will be a top level manager that the project will impact and help the most . This Sponsor will help remove road blocks as the team encounters them. Plus the Sponsor will be the main conduit to top management that will need to support this project as well.

  • The Project Start and Target Completion Date. Management will not support a project that they do not have some time frame to complete.
  • Projected Annual Savings – All Six Sigma Project need to return savings back to the company. Top Management talks in big dollars so to get their support this had better be big dollars.
  • Type of Savings –  There are basically two types of savings Hard savings and cost avoidance.
    • Hard Savings – This is savings that impact the “bottom line.” This means that at the end of this project someone, the sponsor most likely, will be reducing his/her budget to show a hard decrease in spending by the company.
    • Cost Avoidance – This is a savings that may not impact the bottom line as it is a savings that avoids an expense that is causing, in many cases, a department to overrun their budget. This is things like scrap and rework.

The Project Detail Block

  •  Opportunity Statement (Current State) – Here we need to describe the problem as briefly as we can but with enough detail that everyone understands it.
  • The Project objective (Future State) – I like to call this a vision statement of the future state of the process. Many times this makes it easier for others to “picture” what it will look like when the project is complete. It should be specific, measurable and attainable within the time frame of the project.
  • Business Case – This statement needs to tie this opportunity to the company goals and objective and defines why we need to do it NOW. In other words it is a statement showing us the  “burning platform” or real need to do it now.

The Metrics for DPMO Calculations Block

  •  Opportunity Definition – Above we gave a brief description of the opportunity. Here we provide some details as to where an error could be made or a defect could be created. For example an employee filling a form, or the manufacturing of a part or feature, or an interaction with a customer.
  • Defect Definition – In this area we describe what is an unacceptable condition for the opportunity mentioned above and describe the value for the metric? For example: a form returned  for missing or incorrect information, a defect in a part or feature, or a customer placed on hold for over ten minutes.
  •  Metrics – The metric is one or more measurements of the defect described above. This may seem hard to define right now but believe me when I say management when they saw this problem it was not a touchy feely thing it had hard number associated to it. Numbers they want to see changes in. It could be dollars, volume, time, or number of customers but there are numbers that are the metrics YOU need to improve. Sometimes even management does not quite know what they are but it is your job to ask why they think they see this as an issue and find the metric!
    •  Before Project – Here list a value for the metric that is what Management/Sponsor/Team thinks it is today. Later in the measure phase we will actually measure these and get them exact.
    • After Project – Here list a value for the metric that is what Management/Sponsor/Team expect you to achieve. In the Improve phase we will report on how well we did in meeting this metric and goal.

Project Scope Block

The best way I can describe this is when looking at the process you are trying to improve. What steps of that process will be looked at in this project. This will help you keep the project focus and not have what I call scope creep due to not know what areas of the company this project will cover. It also should be noted that you need to make sure the scope is not to big ( you can not solve world hungry, you may be able to only solve hungry in your neighborhood).

  • First Process Step (Start) –  This is the very first step of the business process that you are trying to improve. This IS NOT the first step of the DMAIC process.
  • Last Process Step (Stop) – This is the very last step of the business process that you are trying to improve. This IS NOT the last step of the DMAIC process.
 Potential Adverse Impacts – Here we have to think about what impacts to the process this project might have besides the listed metrics. Plus what other process might be impacted by the improvements to this process. For instance there may be in the process several things that it does good and we do not what the project to make them worse. Also Improving one process may in fact make another one worse.
  • Besides identifying them you will want to explain how you will monitor them to insure no impact.

Milestones and Expected Dates Block

The Milestones are the all the basic steps to completing a project including the five phase DMAIC process. I know you have the project Start and estimated completion dates above, but you will need an estimated completion time for each of the five step of DMAIC. These will be milestones to you and management on how well the project is moving. It is better to make adjustment as you go then to find you are way behind and over budget near the end of the project.

  •  Core Team Member Block
  • Core Team Members – list here the member of the project team. Include their phone number so everyone will knopw how to contact each other.
  • DACI – Here you will define the DACI roles they will

Well there you have the basic components of the Pyzdek Institutes six sigma project charter. At least from my prospective. If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them below or you can contact me.


Bersbach Consulting
Peter Bersbach
Six Sigma Master Black Belt


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