Our Clients

Process Improvement Advice & Best Practices


Defining the Role of a Project Champion

Submitted By: Jason Makaroff

What is my role as the Lean Six Sigma Project Champion?
The Champion for your organization will be utilizing key resources to fulfill the project requirements and will need to ensure that each project is an organizational priority and that it has leadership support at the executive level. Champions must have an understanding of the issues upon which the project charter is based and the project should be chartered on something that is a “hot button” for the organization that will justify utilizing the organization’s resources and time. The Champion provides the data metrics and the sources for obtaining access to those metrics which ensures that the Green/Black Belt can adequately research and develop the plan for executing the project. Finally, the Champion executes this by assigning the staff resources for the Belt to work with, and then ensures that the supervisors in each of the key resource areas have been appropriately informed of the new time commitments that will be required to participate on the project team.

If any of these components are not fulfilled, the project outcomes will fall far short of the expected goals for the project. Without the knowledge component, anxiety among the team and the Belt is the result. If effective data metrics are not provided it will not be possible to track changes and the organization will experience lags in reaping the benefits of the project. If the project is not appropriately staffed, the result will be frustration for the team members that are part of the project team. This could create an environment that reduces participation from associates on future projects. People want to work on things that have an impact and make a difference. If they feel unsupported, they will not commit to future endeavors. Finally, some focused actions must be undertaken to get the project moving towards success and closure. This is the responsibility of the Belt. As long as the Champion has provided all of the ingredients up to this point, the Belt will be positioned well for success!

Key Points to Remember for Champions:
• The Champion is generally a senior director of the organization that develops project charters in coordination with the project selection and coordination process
• The Champion acts as a sponsor for projects within their areas of operational control
• The Champion communicates project results and efforts to the Executive Leadership Team
• The Champion ensures that projects under their control are aligned with the organization’s overall strategic goals
• The Champion ensures coordination between the Money Belt and stakeholders on the project charter
• The Champion ensures that resources have been allocated for the project
• The Champion provides scope for the project
• The Champion removes roadblocks that prevent the project team from achieving the goal
• The Champion gives feedback and provides approval for recommendations during tollgate reviews

Common Pitfalls to Avoid as a Champion
1. Lack of knowledge or organizational level authority for the subject matter of the project.
a. Each Champion should only sponsor projects that they have organizational authority to oversee and for which they have organizational understanding of how the project will impact the organization.

2. Selecting projects that are not “hot buttons” for your area of organizational influence.
a. Champions should select projects that are top priorities for the challenges they are facing on a daily basis. If a Champion finds herself in the mode of fulfilling the regular demands of her organizational role and the project she is sponsoring becomes an additional hassle that is dealt with on the side, then the project is not a high enough priority to warrant assigning resources. It should be a “hot button!”

3. Communication of time commitment expectations for team members
a. Champions should communicate to the supervisors of the different members on the project team that these team members:
i. Have been selected for a high-visibility lean project that will benefit the organization by…
ii. Will need some time away from their regular duties to work on the project
b. This will include communicating with the supervisors for the:
i. Belt
ii. Process Owner
iii. Team Members

4. Lack of follow up (Communicate, Communicate, Communicate)
a. The number one reason for project failure is lack of communication! Champions should work with their Belts to set up regularly scheduled meetings to receive updates on how preparation and execution of the project is occurring. This is where the Champion can provide feedback and influence to help the Belt overcome any organizational obstacles that might arise.

5. Attempting to lead the project instead of allowing the Belt to do the work for you
a. This is where the Champion can relax and let the process work for them. Champions should ensure that the charter is complete and provide authoritative support and decision making where the Belt indicates they need assistance. They do not need to run the project or develop the tools. All of this is taken care of by the Belt and provided to the Champion as part of the regularly scheduled updates.

6. Project scope is too large
a. An ancient proverb states, “The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Don’t try and take on too large of a project at once also known as attempting to “boil the ocean.” Try narrowing to a particular area first. For example, if you are working on the Discharge Process, perhaps try scoping it down to the Discharge Process for Orthopedic Patients on Unit 5. Once you have generated success, you can always replicate the solutions to other areas as appropriate. Working with your Belt on the Charter will help you ensure that the scope is reasonably sized for success.

7. Lack of Metrics
a. What gets measured gets done! Therefore, if you want your project to be successful, you have to provide quantifiable metrics that:
i. Show that there is a problem today and that it is quantifiable
ii. Can be obtained on a periodic basis to track the progress of the improvements

The role of the Champion is important not only to the success of individual projects, but to the success of the CPI program in the organization as a whole. Keeping these Key Points in mind and avoiding the Common Pitfalls will ensure success!

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated and you may experience a delay before yours appears in the queue. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments at our discretion.

Contact Us

security code

Follow Us: