Success Factors

"Subject to Review" (February 2017, pp. 24-29) is an important article. Projects are central to improvement initiatives, and we must continually examine their performance to identify what does and doesn't work. The article lists factors leading to successful and unsuccessful projects. In my experience, there are more factors to list, including:

  • Little time for Black Belts (BB) or Green Belts (GB) and team members to work on the project. Team members spending less than 15% of their time on the project usually signals a project in trouble. A more appropriate time commitment is 20-25%.
  • Projects lasting more than six months often result in loss of interest by the organization, and the project team. Other things become more important, and resources are assigned elsewhere. Projects should be scoped to be completed in two to six months. Projects requiring more time should be broken into smaller projects.
  • Projects not tied to financial results. A project’s bottom line value is a critical measure that is broadly understood.
  • Large project teams involving more than four to six members. Larger teams tend to be slow to make decisions and have difficulty finding time to complete projects.
  • Wrong people assigned to the project. Also a lack of proper skills and a vested interest in the project’s success.

I’m a little concerned that "overly complex process" was included as a project failure factor in Table 2. The complexity concern might steer folks away from undertaking an improvement project that is important to the organization's success. If the improvement of a complex process is important, the project must be initiated. Of course, remember that process complexity not properly taken into account can lead to a less-than-successful project.

Ronald D. Snee
Newark, DE

Sparkling Debut

In response to QP’s redesign: As one of the "old guys" maintaining membership in ASQ, the receipt of QP continues to be of value. Our March 2017 issue was an attention grabber. Content was good—as usual—and the format was a very positive part of the issue. Quality continues as you all deliver QP to members.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

The Reaction Gauge

This month’s question

Drones continue to be touted as the new game-changing technology that will affect how retailers deliver packages, farmers monitor crops and livestock, developers access properties and engineers survey projects, for example. What concerns you most about the advancing drone technology? Are government agencies doing enough to regulate drone usage?

Send us your take at editor@asq.org.

Last month’s question

Chipotle Mexican Grill, hit by foodborne illness scares in late 2015, recently unveiled plans to install technology in its 2,200 eateries that will take pathogen sources out of the air, off surfaces and out of ice before food comes into contact with any potential contamination sources. How will technology like this influence food safety in the future?

Mary F. McDonald, Austin, TX, says:

Technology is constantly evolving to improve protection of food sources from pathogens. This helps to offset any human error that may lead to contamination—by removing the pathogens from the air, surfaces and ice, and reducing the probability of contamination as a result.

Jose Alberto Encarnacion, Miami, writes:

Preventing potential issues at their source is the best way to go. It is natural that with the increasing advances in technology, new tools are used to aid in this prevention. Not having access to technology, however, should not excuse lack of proper quality control and risk management.

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