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Six Sigma For Information Technology (IT) Projects

May 26, 2008
In most IT companies, Six Sigma is being implemented in the core processes such as product development and maintenance. Six Sigma helps by eliminating errors during the product development process, which in turn drastically reduces the probability that the product will not find favor with client needs and requirements.

Many IT companies that have successfully deployed Six Sigma are reaping the associated benefits that come in the form of reduced product redevelopment costs and a drastic improvement in the customer satisfaction levels and brand equity.

Six Sigma Tools and Techniques Employed By IT Companies

IT companies utilize a wide variety of Six Sigma tools and techniques, but if we were to name the most commonly utilized tool, it would certainly be the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). Most IT companies are employing this tool because it can be used for the effective management of almost all the core IT processes such as new product development, product redevelopment and enhancements and product maintenance.

This tool works by identifying potential errors and bugs that might surface when the product is finally delivered to the client or end-user. This gives IT companies enough time to take corrective action as might be necessary for reducing the probability of bugs and errors.

The Right Method of Using the FMEA Six Sigma Tool

Although it appears a complex tool to use, FMEA in reality is not all that difficult to employ, because it requires users just to have a negative point of view about things in general. So, Six Sigma professionals such as Black Belts who might employ FMEA, just have to try to discover the possibilities that can have a negative impact on the product or process undergoing development.

After the identification process, the tool is used for classifying different problem areas into different categories based on the level of threat posed by each one of them. The overall threat level referred to as the 'Risk Priority Number' (RPN) is calculated by considering all the various aspects such as those mentioned below:

=The probability that a problem will surface (referred to as 'Occurrence')
=The potential impact of a given problem (referred to as 'Severity')
=The probability of finding an appropriate solution (referred to as 'Detention)

The RPN helps because it allows Six Sigma professionals to concentrate more on problem areas that might pose a major risk to the product development process. Potential problem areas thus get eliminated in the developmental stage itself, something that ensures the quality of the final product.

Generally, the overall operational cost of IT companies is less than that of manufacturing companies, but since bugs and errors can easily escalate costs by forcing the company to invest in product redevelopment, it is necessary that IT companies use this tool during the product development process. It is only then will they be able to survive the intense competition and make new inroads into the future.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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