Control plan (Six Sigma) — definition and example
Project managers and business executives are always looking to optimize organizational processes. If you’re in a leadership role, you probably already know about Six Sigma, a continuous improvement framework that’s part of the Lean methodology. You may even be familiar with the five stages of Six Sigma — Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC).
A control plan is a crucial element of that last stage and is designed to standardize processes established in the four previous stages. Understanding control plans can help you make lasting process changes that improve your organization.
In this article, you’ll learn what a control plan is, including an example, so you can continue your educational journey into Six Sigma. This post will cover:
What is a control plan?
A control plan is a document that provides guidance on how to monitor a process. Control plans are part of the fifth and final phase of the Six Sigma process improvement framework. They help businesses standardize newly adopted processes to increase their uptake and longevity.
Control plans should contain:
- An outline of what the process should look like
- Key variables or metrics to measure the process
- Information on how frequently to measure these variables
- What to do if the results stray from the desired outcomes
The goal of the control plan is to provide guidance so that a process can be successfully replicated over time by different individuals. Originally created for manufacturing, Six Sigma and the Lean methodology are now used in a range of industries including healthcare, education, and the service sector.
Control plan example
There are a variety of control plan formats, but some of the basic information would typically include the industry that the plan is for, the company’s goal, and how the sections of the plan help the company track its progress.
For example, a control plan for a manufacturing product might contain:
- The name of the product
- Its key characteristics, such as size, color, and material
- How to measure those characteristics, including the tool needed
- The acceptable range — also called the tolerance range — for each characteristic
- The testing frequency, possibly as a time period or amount
- How to visualize and evaluate the measurements, perhaps in a chart
- A specific person who will oversee quality control
- Contingencies for particular or unexpected situations
- A timeline for when and how to review the plan
While this example is for a manufacturing product, the same structure and approach could be applied to any business process.
Remember, maintaining hard-won gains is as important as making them in the first place. Project teams need to put guidelines in place to ensure processes stay efficient, for instance by creating monitoring and response plans. Process owners should then make sure process changes are maintained and kept current with best practices.
Get started with Six Sigma
Control is one of the critical steps in the Six Sigma framework because it ensures that the processes you’ve refined will be maintained into the future. Without a control plan, processes could revert back to the way they were before, resulting in a loss of essential progress.
If Six Sigma and Lean management sound like they might be right for your business, and you’re interested in learning more, check out one of the additional resources below:
- Learn about Six Sigma to Improve Workplace Processes
- Lean Project Management
- A Guide to Lean Management
Adobe can help
Adobe Workfront is enterprise work management software that can help you adopt or expand Lean Six Sigma, optimizing your workflow and bringing organization to your teams.