Introduction to Six Sigma Projects
- Six Sigma is a statistical-based, data-driven approach that primarily focuses on a continuous improvement process by eliminating defects or variances and assuring quality products or services. It is well-known that this methodology was first developed and applied by Motorola in 1980, and later it was popularized at General Electrical as a quality management process in the 1990s. The implementation Six Sigma method aims to reduce the number of flaws and wastages as low as 3.4 per million and attain profitability.
- On the other hand, project management’s primary objective is to reorganize operations, reduce cost, eliminate wastage, complete the target, and achieve customer satisfaction by providing quality products or services. That is why the organizations need to adopt a certain methodology to complete the project and stay relevant. Certain techniques, including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing, are crucial parts of the project lifecycle to achieve the target within the estimated time span and budget. In addition, efficient project management helps to grow effective communication inside the departments.
- In terms of successful completion of the project, industries or organizations require to follow any project management methodology. Incorporating Six Sigma in the project management process is an excellent way to increase the success rate.
Six Sigma Project Approach
Six Sigma is a more comprehensive method to identify customers’ requirements, improve the operation process, and increase the organization’s definite financial performance. Generally, this method integrates the intense knowledge of statistics, engineering, process, and project management, and it emphases realizing the underlying process and eliminating defects. The structure of the Six Sigma approach has been designed in five segments to reduce the quality problem. These five phases are– Define, Measure, Analysis, Improve, and Control, and it is known as the DMAIC procedure.
This procedure is designed in such a way that the project manager can monitor the success rate in the entire life cycle of the project. These different steps are discussed below–
The first step defines the requirement of the project, customer benefit, scope of the project, and cost, as well as the profitability of the project. The project manager must determine the goal of the project aligning with the organization’s policies and procedures. In this beginning stage, project charter, work plan, identifying customer’s requirement, and process map documentation are necessary.
In this second stage, the team members have to decide the measurement process after defining the project’s scope and target at the initial stage. Though it is a tedious process and time-consuming to collect the actual data, it is essential to keep the project on track. This step includes the selection of measurement process, evaluation, analysis, and determination of process performance level and competency.
The third stage includes the analysis process to detect the root causes for variances that may cause to delay the project or affect the quality of the final product or service. Various statistical tools are used to do the root cause analysis.
After detecting the shortfalls, it is essential to find and implement solutions to remove or reduce them. In “Improve” stages includes identification, assessment, verification of effective solutions by applying statistical methods or design of experiments, and so forth.
The purpose of the “Control” stage includes continuous monitoring of the performance process and keeps it under control. The controlling process and its required actions depend on control charts, control plans, and other devices to measuring the process to retain the project effectively.
Can Six Sigma Implement in Project Management Process?
- Though Six Sigma and project management are different sides of the coin, they can work cohesively in any project. Project management ensures success by controlling probable problems in a project itself. Implementation of the Six Sigma method in the project assures success through the application of efficient and effective project management techniques. But it is suggested to include a highly proficient project manager in the Six Sigma project. The lack of executive support or vision of proficient leaders may cause of failure of a project.
- Every project has its initiation and closing part, but in the Six Sigma project, there is a continuous monitoring process for improvement, and it is ongoing even at the end of the project.
- Six Sigma methodologies can be implemented in any kind of project across various industries. But it has its own empirical application, and therefore how much or how little will be implemented in the project is the sole decision of the project manager.
- But before the implementation of the Six Sigma approach, it is recommended to go for the training. The success of a project depends on strong leadership and effective team members who are sincerely committed to the vision of the project.
Difference in Leadership
In project management, the leader or person in charge is called project manager, while in the Six Sigma approach, the leader is called Black Belt or Master Black Belt. But in terms of carrying out a project, both the leaders have a different focus. The project manager’s main responsibility is to initiate a project and complete it within the estimated time frame and budget, aligning with the company’s policies and mission. On the other side, a black belt or master black belt primarily focuses on identifying the variances and finding or providing solutions as early as possible. So the black belt needs to adopt project management techniques containing tracking daily goals, date of certain deliverables, etc. If an organization decides to implement Six Sigma approaches in the organization or in the project, the entire structure of the workforce will be segmented as a master black belt, black belt, and green belt.
Certain Variations in Application
The application of Six Sigma in project management is considered an impossible task because of certain variations.
- Applying six sigma methods in the scope management process may cause of preventing innovation because of its clear definition of a requirement.
- In cost control, the Six Sigma method helps to enforce cost control and effective forecasting. But it may cause increasing reserves.
- Application of Six Sigma in time management ensures effective time monitoring, resource management, risk management, and work schedule. But it has a chance of increasing buffers.
But yet project management and Six Sigma can work together if it is used in the right way.
This has been a guide to the Six Sigma Project. Here we have discussed what six sigma projects are, how to approach them, the procedure and its implementation, etc. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –