When your project team successfully completes its assigned Six Sigma project, take some time to celebrate. You deserve it – all of the analysis and hard work has paid off!
But don’t think that you can turn the page and move on to your next success just yet.
No Six Sigma project is entirely complete until it is supported by a control plan.
Your project team has labored long and hard to find the root causes of problems in the process that result in defects and variance in the end product. You have collaborated to implement improvements that eliminate these root causes. Now you have brought forth a process that impresses customers with its efficiency.
A control plan ensures that the process will keep working and the problems stay solved by creating safeguards that keep the process functioning just the way your team planned.
Detailed documentation is an essential part of the control plan to help keep your new and improved process on track. Documentation will educate the uninitiated about how your process works long after you have moved on to a new project and are no longer there to enforce compliance.
A comprehensive control plan contains maintenance schedules and training requirements to keep the process running smoothly. It also acts as a guide to help get the process back on track if things go awry and require corrective action.
Creating Control Plan Documentation
A control plan for a Six Sigma project can be displayed on a spreadsheet or in a simple table. Control plans are typically made up of the following six sections that contain critical details about the process.
Control Methods – After the new process has been implemented, it is monitored regularly to ensure it still meeting standards. Statistical process control charts and checklists help keep a close eye on performance.
Operational Definition – This section tells why the process exists and explains how it adds value to the customer. It helps put control measures into the proper context.
Subject of Control – This part of the control plan describes the objects or activities that are being controlled. It requires multiple columns to display the following information.
- Machines – The control plan itemizes machinery that is used in the production process.
- Process Description – This column provides a summary of how the process works.
- Process Number – The process is broken down into a series of steps. This number corresponds to a step on the process flow chart.
Administrative – This section identifies the process and the process owner. It also shows the revision level to demonstrate the number of iterations the plan has been through.
Standard Operating Procedures – This segment contains links to educational documents that help explain how to keep the process running like new.
Characteristics – Control plans pay close attention to the characteristics of both the product and the process.
- Process characteristics – These are requirements that the process must deliver to be considered functional. These include transferring a phone call correctly or placing parts accurately.
- Product characteristics – This is a quality standard that tangible products must meet. Yellow pencils must, in fact, be yellow.
A good control plan helps your improvements live a long life – after you have moved on to your next project.