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Six Sigma In IT Project Delivery

Aug 17, 2007
Software development, hardware implementation and testing in the IT domain make IT a big user of processes and therefore compatible to Six Sigma applications. Six Sigma analysis is initiated by formulating a problem statement. A classic example is a case at Raytheon Aircraft. There, the entire IT team has undergone some sort of 6 Sigma training. The problem was an abnormally high number of servers for which no plausible reason could be found. The Six Sigma team identified the problem to be separate servers for each application. Defect removal was done through a logical and secure sharing of servers between many applications. Applying 6 Sigma methodologies to tackle the problem, a 40% consolidation in servers was achieved adding attendant time and labor savings to the bottom line.

Problem Solving Through DMAIC

DMAIC in Six Sigma is an approach to problem solving, which breaks down problem evaluation into five separate and distinct steps. These are: define, measure, analyze, improve and control. Different organizations apply different tools selected from among a wide variety of choices at each of these stages. IT personnel are familiar with some of them, such as Scatter diagrams, Pareto charts and histograms. Others like House of Quality or Voice of the Customer may not be familiar sounding in IT but are, nevertheless, essential customer-centric tools.

Another Six Sigma approach for removal of process defects at the design stage itself is known as Design for 6 Sigma and is used only by those having already mastered the DMAIC system/methodology. Leading CIOs and industry watchers suggest the following for getting the best results from Six Sigma in IT.

Pick The Right People

Pick Sigma Green Belts, Brown Belts or Black Belts who are categorized on the basis of the training they have received in 6 Sigma techniques. Trained experts would form teams, which are constituted to tackle a particular problem or process and thereafter disband to form another team for tackling another process at a different time, may be with different people, all trained in Six Sigma. Selection for training should ensure picking up highly motivated employees that will result in creating a high performance team. Another important point is to give them a project right after training without allowing any time gaps.

Adhere To Six Sigma Methodologies

Generally, IT people do not go ahead with untried methodologies until they have tried out tools with which they are familiar. Experts sound a note of caution against this and say that throwing technology at a business problem results in a bad process with new technology. If the process is free from defects, then technology can be used to take it to greater heights.

Focus On Defect Removal And Improvement

While 6 Sigma tenets are supposed to be religiously followed, they should not be treated as the be-all, end-all. The aim should be to reduce defects and to continuously streamline and improve the process conducting regular evaluations.
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 lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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