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The Control Phase: Control and Document Improvements

 

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The Control phase is the final, fifth phase of the Six Sigma project lifecycle to control improvement activities, close the project and report on reached improvements. Its purpose is to monitor and document data on the improvements through process control methods. Although the Control phase finalizes your project it doesnít mean the phase closes the door on continuous improvement. It just proves that the project comes to an end and desired improvements are reached. Meanwhile, there can be undiscovered opportunities to find new areas of improvement for your product/system.

In order to complete the Control phase, youíll need to carry out several processes, such as follows:

  • Specify methods of process control
  • Document improvements

Both processes are easier to plan and manage by using simple tasks. You can try to use VIP Task Manager to break the processes down into manageable tasks that can be ordered by priorities, scheduled by due dates, grouped by templates and shared among members of your team. The software will help you complete the Control phase and report on the project. Letís find out more about the processes, what tasks are appropriate to them, and how to use VIP Task Manager to manage the tasks.

Specify methods of process control

This process of the Control phase requires you to establish a set of control methods for preventing cause variations in the future. In essence, it means that you need to create a plan of actions for monitoring and controlling the gains received during the previous, Improve, phase. Such a plan should use short- and long-term analysis of gained improvements at regular intervals so that you will be enabled to sustain those improvements and evaluate any needed actions for further improvements.

Because the ultimate purpose of the Control phase is to reach overall assurance that a high standard of quality is met, itís recommendation to specify process control methods by considering what quality level the customer of your project expects for. Hence, quality control will be the most essential method for keeping the whole project and improvements on track. Such a method will also allow you to spot a trouble and immediately fix it and then to consider how efficiently improvements have been implemented.

Now by using the quality control method you can audit the project and monitor reached improvements. Successful implementation of the method requires your team to implement improvements as smoothly as possible. It means that there is a need to use standardization, or a set of rules for undertaking processes and procedures in a standardized manner. Standardization of the quality control method will help you make the project predictable and improvements more auditable.

Along with standardized processes and procedures you need to conduct a regular analysis of improvements in order to make sure the product/system improved by the project is used as expected and at an appropriate performance level. The statistical process analysis along with the range method will be helpful here.

Document improvements

The next process of the Control phase ensures success of your project through documenting reached improvements and training your staff for operating the new system/product. It means that after your project is accomplished and improvements are reached your employees need to be familiar with the changes made to the system/product and understand why those changes are made. Appropriate documentation will help personnel to learn to use and operate your improved system/product.

Records on the improvement process undertaken during the Improve phase can be used as a basis for creating documentation on reached improvements. It means that you can use documents describing results of DOEs (design of experiments) and corrective actions applied during the Improve phase.

Lessons learned from your Six Sigma based project can be also used as one more source of information on using your improved product/system. The project manager needs to take care of providing necessary learning materials to the team and planning for training through meetings, workshops, sessions. The ultimate purpose of conducting employee training after the project is done is to teach personnel to operate the improved product/system and provide knowledge that may be required for further, continuous improvements of the product/system.

Using VIP Task Manager

The two processes of the Control phase are critical to the overall success of your Six Sigma driven project because in case they are failed, improvements reached by the project get under risk of failure as well. If your personnel cannot figure out how to benefit from the improvements the project is regarded as wasteful and unsuccessful. Thatís why, you need to make certain you know how to carry out the processes, complete the Control phase and close the project.

Below we suggest a range of sample tasks that can be created and manage with help of VIP Task Manager. The tasks let your team step through each of the processes in a consistent manner; hence itíll be easier for the manager of your project to track status of the tasks and control progress of the processes.

"Control" Phase

  • Specify methods of process control
    • Establish expected quality levels
    • Establish quality control metrics
    • Set standard procedures of quality control
    • Measure improvements against the metrics
    • Report on the current quality level of improvements
    • Conduct the statistical process analysis
    • Review results of the analysis
    • Use the range method to measure the current performance level
    • Compare the current performance level with the desired one
    • Report on results of the performance comparison
  • Document improvements
    • Retrieve and review records on improvements reached during the Improve phase
    • Develop manuals describing how to use the improved product-system.
    • Choose types of employee training (meetings, workshops, lessons, virtual collaboration etc.)
    • Develop a schedule of employee training
    • Review lessons learned from the project
    • Make a weekly report on status of employee training.

The project manager can use Filters to monitor the tasks by various attributes, for example by Priority, Due Date and Assigned. In such a way the manager can track delays and procrastinations and make re-assignments if needed. At the same time, your team members can use Comments panel to report on outstanding issues and receive quick responses from the manager.

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