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Definition of the Project


The first task of the team is to clearly articulate the scope, objectives, and performance measures for the project. The initial scope and objectives of the project sponsor are inputs to this task. The project scope must be clearly defined. Scope definition must set boundaries on the project. What are the points where the target process begins and ends? What areas are in bounds and which are out of bounds? Are there time or cost constraints? Clearly defining the scope helps the team maintain their focus. Failure to do this step can cause the project to spiral out of control, either expanding into processes only indirectly related to the area of focus or failing to be sufficiently broad to allow the team to address the right problems.

Bear Creek Corporation uses this simple improve­ment process model (Figure 1) to guide the teams through the steps of the project. Keeping the team fo­cused on each step, in sequence, is the most effective way to achieve the best results.

After the scope is defined, establishing the project ob­jectives ("FUTURE," see Figure 1) is the next critical step. Gaining consensus around clearly stated goals provides focus and guidance for the team. Without this step, the team can quickly get off track. It is a natural human reac­tion, when people are assigned a project, to want to quickly solve the problem. Once the problem is defined, well-in­tentioned people often begin by discussing issues and of­fering solutions. Unfortunately, solutions developed this way often address symptoms rather than root causes. The sponsor, owner and team must imagineer the ideal out­come of the project. Reaching consensus on goals will as­sure that subsequent efforts are efficient and produce better solutions.

Typical objectives will be to increase sales, reduce costs, shorten cycle time, and reduce error rates. Objec­tives commonly will benefit the customer, the company, and the employees (such as to improve morale or safety). Objectives must be documented statements about the ideal future state of the process and its expected results.

Defining performance measures is an easy step for teams to skip. Failure to clearly define performance measure will decrease the probability of long-term suc­cess of the change effort. Performance measures must also be truly measurable. It does little good to establish performance measures that involve complex methods of data collection. Simple measures are best but they must also relate directly to the project objectives. It is only through measurement of key points of the process and the intended results that the effect of changes for improvement can be objectively determined.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14


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