The Define Phase and the Project Charter

define phase

Before process improvement even begins, special emphasis is placed on the Define phase. This is one of the steps in the DMAIC methodology. This phase is important because it removes any assumptions regarding the issue being dealt with so that everyone is on the same page. Specifically, it describes the problem in a clean and concise manner, what needs to be achieved through improvement (the goals) and how it is is going to be achieved.

To make this phase more elaborate, there is a tool that is often used called a Project Charter. Its function is similar to a contract between the team assigned to work on the project and the supervisors tasked with leading it. And it contains definitions and explanations of terms relevant to the project.

Here are some of the most important elements of a Project Charter:

  • Resources – These are things, like materials, equipment, funds, utilities and manpower, needed to carry out and complete the project without suffering delays or setbacks.
  • Objective – In this part of the Project Charter, the desired outcome of the project is stated in quantifiable terms. For example, “Increase online conversion rates by 30%”
  • Problem statement – The problem statement is where all the issues that need to be addressed are listed. Also, the process’s past and present state are analyzed to determine what performance measures will be used to judge future states.
  • Scope – This is the part where all the costs, deliverables, deadlines and goals are listed.
  • Deliverables – Deliverables are the yardsticks that the organization will use to tell if the project is progressing as expected or not. They are evaluated at specific intervals during the project’s lifespan.
  • Need to be addressed – How will the organization benefit from the process improvement? This part of the Project Charter states how process improvement will contribute to organizational growth and customer satisfaction.


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