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Factors and considerations in selecting a Six Sigma project

Selecting a project to apply Six Sigma methodology to is an important first step. There is no argument that Six Sigma is beneficial, yet the process also has a significant cost element. The project selected must be selected on defined factors that will justify the resource and time commitment



  • Does it have significant impact on customer satisfaction?
  • The Customer First (Customers are known to be the lifeblood of every business and to support these vital resources, businesses spend a significant amount of time and effort maintaining customer satisfaction.
  • Does the project strongly relate to business goals?
  • Can project gives the financial benefits? (Revenue Growth, Cost Reduction, Capital Reduction, Key Business Objectives, On Time Delivery, Lead Time, Quality, Customer Satisfaction)
  • Cost of the project and the overall benefit and profitability to the company.
  • The scope of the project should be well defined.
  • Results must be measurable And tangible.
  • Defining the desired outcome.


  • Can the project be completed in 3 to 6 months? A good project must be manageable. Prolonged projects risk loss of interest and start building frustrations within the team and all the way around. The team also runs the risk of disintegrating.

What not to select

It should neither be a bean-sized project so that the improvements are to small to be appreciated neither a world-hunger project that implementing the solutions is beyond the control of the stakeholders.

Low Hanging Fruits

Low-hanging fruit (also known as the Quick Wins) are the issues known throughout the organization that people are just dealing with. This is probably one of the best ways to start the project selection for Six Sigma.

Characteristics of Low Hanging Fruits:

  • Easy to implement
  • Fast/quick to implement
  • Cheap to implement
  • Within the team’s control
  • Easily reversible

General Guidelines for Project Selection

There should be an existing gap between the current performance and the needed/desired performance of its processes
The cause of this problem should be unknown or not clearly understood
There shouldn't be any predetermined or apparent optimal solution. If you already know the answer, then just go fix it.


Project selection is regarded as one of around 13 critical success factors in the six sigma literature. While not everyone deems project selection as important as for example top management commitment and team training, many do place it at or near the top in terms of importance.
An interesting issue is whether project selection should be part of the define phase or whether it should constitute its own phase, which would mean the acronym should be PDMAIC rather than DMAIC. Either way, well-considered selection of projects in terms of clear criteria and with top management involvement is vital.

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