Four Benefits of a Project Charter

I often get push-back from client organizations that don’t want to fill out a project charter before conducting a Rapid Improvement Event.  “We know the area we are working in, why do we need a charter?”  I hope you have never said that, or heard that from others in your company, but in case you have, here is why a project charter is important.


1.  It keeps you bounded

I’ve been in the middle of an RIE- usually, a 6S event, when the manager comes out to ask if we can’t 6S the area next to us.  I get the thinking, we’re already out there, why not just work on the next department or area?  If you do that what do you think the chances are of getting the area the team is working on complete?

Having a project charter before you begin, makes it clear to everyone what is being accomplished and that nothing else is possible during that event.  If you have your project charters approved by the sponsor or area manager beforehand, there will be no doubt what is being worked on.

2.  Defines the current state

In the project charters that I use, there is a section for defining the current state or problem.  I’m sure we are aware the better we are at describing the problem, the easier it is to find a solution.  Defining a problem well is more than half of the battle.

It’s important to collect data from the process to generate a picture of what is happening.  Current state value stream maps are also a magnificent tool to understand the current state of a process, area, or department.  If you can before the RIE, collect process data, and develop a current state VSM.

3.  Establishes the goals

Like everything in life, if there are no goals, there will be no improvement.  Given the process information and current state value stream map, how much improvement can you make in a 3-5-day period?

You can reduce travel distance and inventory dramatically in an RIE.  Often by 50% or more.  You can reduce setup times on a machine by 50% the first time around.  These are metrics to keep in mind as you develop the goals for your RIE’s.

4.  Provides a chance to celebrate team members

While the charter itself doesn’t force you to celebrate, you capture the team members that took part in the RIE on the charter.  This is a living document that leadership can refer to.  If leadership is off-site or missed the RIE report out, they can use the project charter to know who to celebrate.

A celebration is a key element to improve and increase employee engagement within your company.  Don’t by-pass that opportunity!

As always, it is an honor to serve you, and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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