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Six Sigma In The Software Industry

Aug 17, 2007
Six Sigma in the software industry must have caused a few eyelids to bat in its early days. Six Sigma in manufacturing is completely understandable. For the same logic to apply to software products, it still has a long way to go to establish itself. However, for the moment it is safe to assume that there exist factors within the software industry that contribute to the shift that we discussed above. This also makes way for examples such as constant changing tools like hardware & software, decline in adherence to procedures, etc.

Level of CMM© At Which Six Sigma Can Be Applied

Six Sigma needs to be applied a bit differently when it comes to software service companies. For a company intending to streamline their processes, Six Sigma contributes well by way of helping to refine the mechanism.

It may not seem too practical to talk about defect-free processes so that you can begin implementation. The need here is the road map for organizations to work on defect control targets in stages. CMM level 1 and level 2 companies may find Six Sigma to be ideal to augment their framework application procedures for defect reduction. Levels above 3 will have attained the maturity levels sufficient for immediately implementing framework of measurement practices and will proceed further. At the mature levels of CMM 4 and 5, you can establish the complex metrics of 'true' Six Sigma to maximize leverage.

Techniques of Six Sigma for Software

As with manufacturing, the fundamental step is to begin with 'the customer is always right' approach. You can use a number of metrics, tools and charts to define customer specifications for critiquing and analyzing various parameters such as cost, quality and schedules at different levels.

There is no reason why Six Sigma will not go beyond cosmetic improvements and changes in the software industry. The 'goal questioning metric' or GQM, may be made use of in combination with other tools. The GQM technique combines well with the DMAIC model of Six Sigma. This is especially helpful, especially with Six Sigma being more focused on data- driven techniques.

However, you must keep in mind that when applying Six Sigma in your organization, it is necessary that suitability of a chosen tool or technique is established beforehand.

The Big Question

The big question as to whether Six Sigma can really be applied as successfully in the software industry as it was to manufacturing is still being debated. The real challenge is to see if it can be implemented without reinventing the wheel. There is also disagreement among leaders in the software industry about the need for Six Sigma.

One possible solution is that the proven processes of CMM, PSP and ISO can always contribute while Six Sigma can be used a complimentary tool.
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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