Category Archives: Business


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Porters Five Forces is a model used for analyzing the competitive environment of an industry.  This Porters Five Forces Example is for the PC Industry (personal computer) in 2008.  The five forces in Porter's model are:

  • Industry Competition/Rivalry – most notably identified by the level of price competition and product introductions.  
  • Suppliers – exert power by raising prices or making switching costs high.  Suppliers are most powerful when there are only a few key players.
  • Buyers – exert power by forcing prices down.  Buyers are most powerful when they are the primary customer for a company or when the product they are purchasing is a commodity.  
  • Potential Entrants – the threat of potential entrants is highest when there are no significant barriers to entry into the industry.  High profits attract new entrants to the industry.
  • Substitutes – The threat of substitutes is a concern when a new product or service might meet the same need better, faster or cheaper.  

The first slide in this Porters Five Forces example highlights the strength of each force in the PC Industry by the color of the box.  Red represents a strong force, orange a medium force, and green a weak force.  The comments on the slide describe the analysis in more detail.  

The second slide illustrates recommended strategies for a firm competing in the 2008 PC industry with the given competitive environment.  Strategies are indicated in blue, and expected benefits of the strategy are indicated in the lighter blue color.  Further analysis is described in the comments of the slide.  

Porters Five Forces analysis was initially introduced by Michael Porter of Harvard Business School in 1979.  It can be used to assess the attractiveness of an industry, as well as identify and develop business strategies for existing players.  This analysis in this example is intended for an existing player in the 2008 PC Industry.  


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This SIPOC Template MS Word can help you and your team members to define a complex project that might otherwise be intractable or difficult to scope out.  A SIPOC diagram is used to identify all the essential elements of a process before work begins to improve it.

A SIPOC diagram is a high level overview of a process, and is not a detailed version of the process flow.  The SIPOC should be built before the detailed process flow.  The SIPOC Template MS Word is a good format to manage the documentation where all parties can view the document, versus proprietary process flow mapping software.


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This is a document for 5W2H problem analysis.  The 5W2H is often used in lean and six sigma process improvement initiatives to help bring clarity to the problems and concerns with the current process.  It is also used in Problem Statement definition as a way to get alignment across stakeholders on the current situation.

5W2H stands for:

  • Who – Who is impacted?  Which people, groups, departments are involved?
  • What – What is issue/concern/problem is occurring?
  • When – What is the timeframe for which the issue has been occurring? When did it begin?
  • Where – Where is the issue/concern occurring?  Is it isolated to certain areas?
  • Why – Why is it a problem?  Why do we care about it?
  • How – How is this done today?  How do we know it is a problem?
  • How Many – How frequently does the issue occur?  Hourly?  Weekly?  Yearly?

The 5W2H is typically used at the beginning of a project. It should be completed before root cause analysis. The exercise of going through each item in the analysis is typically more valuable than the completed document. Often times, the result of the 5W2H analysis is a problem statement that can be used in the “head” of a fishbone diagram during root cause analysis.


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This is a versatile, professional project charter template that can be used for projects of all different types. The template is fairly detailed. Sections that are not needed for certain projects can be removed. The project charter is usually created by the Project Manager early in the Project Management Life Cycle.

The project charter can be used to “pitch” or “sell” the project to executives or leaders who will decide whether or not to fund the project. It is also used to communicate project details to resource managers who will decide whether or not to commit their team members to the project. Once approved, the project charter authorizes work to commence on the project and gives authority to the project manager to lead the project. Additionally, all project team members should be familiar with the project charter prior to beginning work. This helps ensure that all team members understand the objectives and benefits the team is working towards, as well as what is in and out of scope.

This project charter template includes sections for:

  • Project Overview
  • Objectives and Expected Benefits
  • Problem Description
  • Root Causes
  • Solution Proposal
  • Scope Details
  • Project Milestones
  • Team Members
  • Project Costs
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Communication Plan
  • Additional Details

The project charter is also a great resource to help bring new project team members up to speed who join the project after the initial kick off.


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Using this SIPOC Visio Diagram, you can create a more visually appealing SIPOC.  Instead of using simple boxes to represent Suppliers and Customers, you can use people shapes that visually depict the work they do. This SIPOC Visio Diagram highlights a handful of different Visio shapes you can use.  To find additional people shapes to represent the Suppliers and Customers, use the “Departments” Visio stencil found under the Flowchart category.

Other shapes can be found by searching in Visio using the search Shapes box or by navigating through the “More Shapes” menu.

SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers. The Visio SIPOC Diagram can be used in Lean and Six Sigma process improvement projects to:

  • Define the stakeholders of a process (suppliers and customers)
  • Define the scope and boundaries of the process
  • Provide a high level overview of the process
  • Understand how process outputs serve the end customer
    • This template was built using Visio 2010, but will likely work in versions as early as 2007.



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This is an example Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagram built in Visio.  Note that not all Microsoft Office installations come with Visio.

The flow chart includes the following shapes:

  • Rectangle for a process step
  • Diamond for a decision
  • Tube for start and end shapes
  • Annotation for comments
  • Rectangle with a curve for a Document
  • Rectangle with two vertical stripes for a pre-defined process (sub process)
  • Separator (vertical line) to distinguish phases of the process
  • A cloud shape to indicate unclear or uncertain steps in the process

This example is of an IT system release process and has three swim lanes. Additional lanes can be added as needed from the “Cross Functional Flowchart Shapes” stencil. Coloring has been added to the separators to help visually indicate when you are moving from one phase of the process to the next. Additional coloring suggestions include red for process steps that require attention, and yellow for the creation or update of a document.  


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Most PICK Chart templates require you to manually place the idea onto the chart.  This template uses the Scatter Chart functionality in Excel to automatically place the ideas on the chart for you based on the the values you enter for Impact and Effort.  0 is the minimum value (low) and 3 is the maximum value (high)

The PICK Chart is a Lean/Six Sigma tool used to help prioritize ideas.  The X axis represents the Effort to implement an idea while the Y axis represents the expected Impact.  

Four quadrants are displayed in the PICK Chart:

  • Possible – ideas that are considered "low hanging fruit". The effort to implement is low, but the impact is also low.  These should only be implemented after everything in the "Implement" quadrant.
  • Implement – ideas that should be implemented as they will have a high impact and requrie low effort
  • Challenge – ideas that should be considered for implementation after everything in the "Implement" column.  The impact is high, but the effort is also high. 
  • Kill – ideas that should be "killed" or not implemented.  The effort to do so is high and the impact is low.  

A PICK Chart is typically used in a Lean/Six Sigma project after Problem Identification Waste Analysis and Root Cause Analysis.  


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This IT Project Plan template is intended for small IT projects, roughly 3-6 months.  It has the basic tasks of a project already populated for the Project Manager, Business Analyst and Developer/Programmer.

Additionally, it has places for the Status of each tasks, Start Date, End Date, Duration, and Owner.  The Duration field calculates automatically based on the Start & End Date of the Task.

Be careful with the Status field.  What you enter into this field determines the color of the entire row.  You may enter: Not Started, In Progress, Delayed, Completed, Milestone or (Phase).

Since this is a template for smaller IT projects, it does not provide functionality for Dependencies, a Gantt Chart, etc.  For those types of features, consider using MS Project or another tool instead of Excel.


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This is a template for a simple Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagram (also known as a Cross Functional Process Flow Diagram). Note that it is built in Microsoft Visio, VSD format.  Visio does not come with most Microsoft Office installations.

Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagrams are used to illustrate processes that are performed by two or more parties.  The process steps are separated by “swim lanes” designating which party performs which step.

This template uses the basic flow chart diagram symbols:

  •     Rectangle for a Process Step
  •     Diamond for a Decision Step
  •     Tube for the Start and End Steps
  •     Annotation for Comments

To make the chart larger, drag the edges to extend the working space to the amount needed.

An example of this template in use can be found here.


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Flow Chart Diagrams can be used to illustrate business processes, system processes, and much more.  They are frequently used in process improvement initiatives and IT projects to show the as-is and to-be states of the process.

This is a template for a very simple Flow Chart Diagram (also known as a Process Flow Diagram). Note that it is built in Microsoft Visio, VSD format.  Visio does not come with most Microsoft Office installations.

This template only uses the basic flow chart diagram symbols:

  • Rectangle for a Process Step
  • Diamond for a Decision Step
  • Tube for the Start and End Steps
  • Annotation for Comments

For a flow chart with Swim Lanes, refer to a Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagram.  To make the chart larger, drag the edges to extend the working space to the amount needed.