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DMAIC: Define Phase – Define your project for success 【The US PMP Situation】 (Lean Six Sigma)

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DMAIC: Define Phase - Define your pr...

The Define Phase of DMAIC is to define and clarify the contents of a project at the beginning of the project. The tools for that are the project charter, the flow chart of things and information, and the project plan. You can make it quickly and with high quality by using a template.

(Duration: 4:25)

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What have to be done in the Define Phase of DMAIC?

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.

Let’s talk about a Lean Sigma project’s first component of ‘Define Phase’ today.  This phase is to define and clarify the contents of the project.  Here we should just provide answers to the questions of 5W1H on the paper.

Why: ‘Why have you got to do this project?’  What: ‘What will you do in the project?  What are its purpose and goal?’  Who: ‘Who are the project leader and team members?’  When: ‘When will you start and complete the project?’  Where: ‘Where will you make improvements in your business?’  And How: ‘How will you proceed with this project?’  Let’s write them down on paper.

You can write the sections of ‘Why’, ‘What’, ‘Who’ and ‘When’ on a form named ‘Project Charter’.  You can write the section of ‘Where’, in other words, represent the target process graphically on a Value Stream Map, something that Toyota created.  Then you can write the section of ‘How’ on a project plan document form.

The project plan document form from PMP, the global standard of Project Management, is for large-scale projects and quite complicated.  So I use the format of WBS: Work Breakdown Structure as a project schedule instead.

In conclusion, when you finish the Project Charter, Value Stream Map and Work Breakdown Structure, you’ve completed your Define Phase.  I’ll explain how to write each document in the next few videos, separately.

Depending on the project, in addition to the three documents, in the Define Phase you may want to use the VOC Matrix Diagram that helps you analyze voice of customers, the stakeholder analysis chart, or even a Gantt Chart to track schedule progress as well.

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Also, you should make and submit an update report or gather your key stakeholders and give them a report presentation at the end of each phase.

Project Management Situation Differences between in the US and Japan

Occasionally I heard from the Japanese side “The PMP method has too much to fill out and it’s a pain in the neck.”  I can understand where that feeling comes from.  In an English speaking environment, there are many templates available and you don’t need to write them from scratch, which isn’t the case for project managers in Japan.

Also many companies have set up a PMO, the project management office in their headquarters and that department manages all projects in the company and records and organizes lessons learned from the past projects.  Therefore, you can use and modify any previous documents for your project that were made in similar projects.  It is very efficient.

How is that situation handled in a Japanese environment?  I feel it can be very limited with much less variety in the kinds of templates available.  This makes quite a difference in speed and quality of project management in the Japanese and western environments.

So to help out, from now on, I’ll make not only videos, but also powerful templates in Japanese and English that you can use in Lean Sigma projects.  You can download those files from this blog site,

I mentioned about this before:  All work other than day-to-day operations, are projects.  Much of managers’ work is projects, as well.  The difference in speed and quality of project management will lead to the difference of company growth.  I would like to contribute to that point for all of you in Japan and world.

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