The objective of the DEFINE Phase is for the Executive Team, Steering Team, Project Sponsor, Process Owner and Facilitator to reach consensus on the exact requirements for a successful Process Improvement Project (PIP). This is accomplished by:
- Gathering enough information to define project boundaries.
- Gaining insight into the significance of the project to the organization's business system(s).
- Clearly articulating the items listed below in the Project Definition Worksheet (PDW). The PDW is the deliverable for the DEFINE Phase. It defines the purpose and scope of the project. It is approved and signed by the Steering Team, Process Owner and Project Sponsor and will serve as the contract between the Facilitator, the Steering Team and the Process Owner. It is also the blueprint used by the Design Team as they complete the IS and SHOULD Phases of the project. The key items to be articulated in the PDW are:
- The expected quantitative impact on performance variables.
- A well-defined set of project deliverables.
- Project schedule.
- Resource requirements.
- Executive Team and Steering Team commitment to support the project.
Note: As you encounter unfamiliar terms throughout the DEFINE Phase, refer to the Glossary of Terms Tool, the Toolkit for the DEFINE Phase and the Summary of Key Roles described below for definitions.
The key outcome of the DEFINE Phase is a signed PDW-this is part of the Project File. The PDW is approved and signed by the Steering Team, Process Owner and Project Sponsor and will serve as the contract between the Facilitator, the Steering Team and the Process Owner. It is also the blueprint used by the Design Team as they complete the IS and SHOULD Phases of the project.
Note: Use the Deliverables Checklist Tool to "check-off" each deliverable as you step through the DEFINE Phase.
The key activities that take place in the DEFINE Phase are:
- Gathering as much information as possible about the organization and the process to be improved from existing documents and interviews with Executives and Key Stakeholders.
- Using the information you gather to clearly scope the PIP using the PDW.
- Obtaining signed approval from the Steering Team, Process Owner and Project Sponsor on the scope of the PIP. This is your "green light" to continue to the next Phase.
- Drafting a Project Vision Statement that describes what the organization should look like in the future as a result of this PIP effort. The Project Vision Statement provides the rationale for why the project teams will be focused and working towards a common goal.
- Assessing the style of the organization to understand the thinking of the "skeptics" and to start getting an idea of the people issues that will need to be addressed for successful Implementation.
It will take approximately 2 to 5 days to complete each key activity and a total elapsed time of approximately 2 to 4 weeks to complete the DEFINE Phase.
Note: Use the Process Improvement Project Management Map Tool to track project progress.
The Facilitator leads the Process Owner and Steering Team in defining the project scope, goals, boundaries, staffing, and timetable. The role demands a high degree of planning and organizing skills and the ability to advise and coach senior executives.
The Project Sponsor is the champion for the project—s/he is generally the person who initiated the PIP. The Facilitator is accountable to the Project Sponsor (and the Process Owner) for results. This person may be the same person as the Process Owner.
The Process Owner is the person who is on the line for the success of the process—this role may be equated to a Process Manager. This person must be on the Steering Team. If the organization is in flux, there may be no logical Process Owner at the beginning of the project. If this is the case, an interim Process Owner should be identified and positioned at the start of the project. If the process is being fundamentally redefined, the logical owner of the process may change as the boundaries of the cross-functional process change. S/he may be the same person as the Project Sponsor. However, the key responsibility is process ownership. The Process Owner's primary activities include establishing and clarifying the project scope, acquiring project resources, and providing access to key decision makers in the organization and ensuring their commitment.
The Executive Team serves as a primary resource for data gathering during this phase. They also approve selection of the Process Owner, help select membership for the Steering Team and review the project scope.
The Steering Team is formed toward the end of the DEFINE Phase after project scoping has helped determine membership. This team helps select members for the Design Team and approves the project scope.
Stakeholders are persons or organizations who potentially will be impacted by changes developed by the Design Team. At this point in the project, Stakeholders are identified as a group at an organizational level; later, they will be identified at an individual level.
The roles in the DEFINE Phase are also broken out by step in the DEFINE Phase Role/Responsibility Matrix.
- Be careful not to under or over commit on what can realistically be done in the PIP.
- A key part of scoping and defining a process is to identify the range of "triggers" or inputs that the process is to "transform." This must be established before a PIP starts, not negotiated during the IS or SHOULD Sessions.
- Assess the style of the organization early in the DEFINE Phase. It is useful to understand the thinking of the "skeptics" and to start getting your arms around the people issues that will need to be addressed for successful Implementation. Keep notes in your project log that can be referred back to for implementation planning.
- Identify any other significant projects (or efforts) underway in the organization that impact this project. You want to:
- Develop whatever synergies are possible with other projects.
- Help the Steering Team begin to think about planning for the resources that will be required for Implementation. You do not want to be at the end of the SHOULD Phase, unable to proceed because of limited resources.
- The scope is too broad or not broad enough.
- Relationships with other processes are not understood.
- Goals set are not challenging enough.
- Steering Team members do not buy into the need for the project or the goals.
- Inappropriate Design Team members are chosen by the Steering Team (i.e., all junior members).
- Failure to read materials given to you before your first interviews. You need to be familiar with product names, key acronyms, etc., to keep your credibility high and the interview productive.
- Management only wants "part" of the PIP resulting in delays in transitioning from one Phase to another and under-valuing subsequent Phases of the methodology.
- The Steering Team is not trained prior to IS Analysis, resulting in lack of clarity of the methodology. Steering Team members could introduce their own approach to the problem.
- The PDW is not completed prior to project start-up resulting in lack of clarity at subsequent stages. If this happens, schedule special meeting with the Process Owner to complete the PDW.
- Other, less successful PIPs are not identified resulting in cynicism on the part of the Design Team during the SHOULD Phase. During SHOULD Design, help the team identify risk factors and differences between prior efforts and the current project.