Juggling the Right Amount of Six Sigma Projects

Juggling the right amount of Six Sigma projects

A critical part of Lean Six Sigma success for organizations is knowing when teams reach maximum project load by aware of the right amount of Six Sigma projects in their hands. Even when organizations hire employees dedicated to process improvement, they can only sustain a certain number of improvement projects without substantially reducing the positive outcomes of those projects.

While project work, including data gathering and analysis, might be handled by employees committed 100 percent to improvement projects, teams usually have to engage with and pull resources from regular staff members. An organization that juggles too many projects puts daily output at risk. In seeking to improve processes, a company that selects too many projects at one time could actually negatively impact quality.

No formula exists for how many Lean Six Sigma projects a company should run at a given time, but a few well-designed projects are more likely to make greater impact than many poorly designed, overlapping, or unfunded projects. Organizations should only launch projects they can:

  • Fund. Lean Six Sigma projects take monetary resources, which means organizations must prioritize based on financial criteria.
  • Support with people resources. Lean Six Sigma projects require work from employees at all levels. Companies shouldn’t launch three projects at one time that draw heavily on IT resources or attempt multiple, simultaneous projects that need input from the Director of Compliance on a regular basis. Relying too heavily on resources for multiple projects can burn out employees, decrease morale, impact quality, and impede work that is necessary to keep the business running from day to day.
  • Span of Control. Project teams require leadership; Lean Six Sigma teams are usually run by Black Belts or Green Belts, sometimes along with certified Project Managers. Since the Belters are supported by Yellow Belts who handle much of the data collection and analysis work, a single Black and Green Belt can usually manage more than one project at a time if needed. This is especially true for experienced belters who are not responsible for any type of daily operation. Even so, by knowing the right amount of Six Sigma projects, the organization can reduce the strain on those resources.