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Six Sigma method

The Six Sigma management method philosophy focuses on a better understanding of customer requirements, improving business systems throughout the organization, and enhancing the organization’s financial performance.

It is used to improve the organization’s products,  services, and processes across various disciplines, including production, product development, marketing, sales, finance, and administration. It is achieved through understanding the underlying processes and reducing or eliminating defects and wastes.

The  Six Sigma management method integrates profound knowledge of statistics, engineering,  process, and project management. 

Six Sigma project methodology

The generally accepted methodology for managing Six Sigma projects includes the following  phases:

SIX SIGMA METHOD

Define:

Here, the objectives and scope of the project are defined. Relevant information about the process and customer are collected. 

Measure:

Data on the current situation and process matrix are collected.

Analyse:

Collected data are analyzed here to find the root cause(s) of the problem.

Improve:

Solutions to the problem are developed and implemented in this phase.

Control:

In this phase, the implemented solution is evaluated and the mechanisms are implemented to hold the gains, which may include standardization. 

This Six Sigma methodology is often referred to by its initial: DMAIC. Using this methodology, project management professionals can find a valuable opportunity to contribute to enhancing the Six Sigma project management methodology. 

Also read- 8 Essential soft skills for project managers!

Project management applications

The application of the Six Sigma method in project management helps in balancing the three constraints of project management – scope, time, and cost – that affect the quality of any project. 

Scope:

Applying Six Sigma in scope management would enforce a clear definition of requirements and rigorous change management. The risk may be that this application could inhibit innovation. 

Time:

Applying Six Sigma in time management would require better scheduling,  immovable deadlines, careful progress monitoring, risk management, and better resource management. The risk may be that this application could encourage additional schedule padding and increase buffers. 

Cost:

Applying Six Sigma in cost management would imply absolute budgets, enforce careful cost controls, and effective forecasting. The risk may be that this application could encourage additional budget padding and increase reserves. 

Quality:

Applying Six Sigma in scope management would enforce unyielding quality targets, careful selection of standards, and realistic assessment of capabilities. The risk may be that this application could result in hiding problems and assigning blame for defects to others. 

The quality of work is constrained by the project’s budget, deadlines, and scope (features). Six Sigma management method would lead to clear objectives, immovable deadlines,  unwavering support by senior executives, sufficient resources, a strong desire to succeed in view of the high risk of failure, and overall organizational alignment to ensure the success of each project. These are the critical success factors for project management. 

The Six Sigma project-driven organizational structure and appropriate project selection, evaluation, and project management tools, ensure that Six Sigma projects reach their objectives effectively. As such, the Six Sigma management method can be summarized as  follows:

Six Sigma = Total Quality Management (TQM) + Strong Customer Focus +  Data Analysis Tools + Financial Results + Project Management

Benefits of Six Sigma

The benefits of Six Sigma include: 

  1. Better understanding of changing customer requirements
  2. Improvement of quality and delivery
  3. Reduction of waste
  4. Reduction of cost
  5. Development of robust products and processes
  6. Enhancement of competitive position 
  7. Sustained competitive advantage through continuous improvement of all business systems in the organization. 

There are numerous benefits and advantages of the Six Sigma methodology, not just in project management but also in a business’s overall processes and operations management. Six  Sigma methodology, when implemented rightly, helps in achieving sustainable competitive advantage.

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