Project Integration Management
Six Sigma is a set of practices originally developed by Motorola to systematically improve processes by eliminating defects. A defect is defined as nonconformity of a product or service to your specifications. Six Sigma is also defined as a management strategy to promote change in organizations, making it reaches improvements in projects, processes, products and services for customer satisfaction. Unlike other forms of management of productive or administrative proceedings Six Sigma's priority is to obtain results in a planned and clear way seeking better quality and also financial gains.
The PMBOK Guide is process-based, meaning it describes work as being accomplished by processes. Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or its various phases. Processes are described in terms of:
- Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
- Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs)
- Outputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
The PMBOK guide, is its fifth edition, provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts. It also describes the project management life cycle and its related processes, as well as the project life cycle.
Companies traditionally implement Six Sigma and other quality control tools to assist in new product development, to reduce the cost of development, improve manufacturing efficiency or to enter new markets. More recently, organizations are integrating the Six Sigma method to the PMBOK project management process to try to gain maximum advantage.
PMBOK and Six Sigma have much in common. Both seek to establish a plan; identify and communicate with stakeholders; conduct regular reviews; and manage schedule, cost, and resources.
Six Sigma is a robust continuous improvement strategy and process that includes cultural and statistical methodologies and is complementary with existing project management programmes and standards but differs in significant ways. Both disciplines seek to reduce failures, prevent defects, control costs and schedules, and manage risk. Usually project management attempts to achieve these goals by encouraging best practices on a project-by-project basis, often through the mechanism of a project office that promulgates policy, provides templates and advice, promotes appropriate use of tools such as critical path method, and perhaps performs periodic project reviews.
Providing a structured data-driven methodology with tools and techniques, organizations can use it to measure their performance both before and after Six Sigma projects. Project Managers can measure the baseline performance of their processes and determine the root causes of variations so they can improve their processes to meet and exceed the desired performance levels. It allow managers to take their projects to great levels of discipline and commitment.
Six Sigma can be a complementary management methodology that is integrated into and replaces the existing ways of determining, analysing, and resolving/avoiding problems, as well as achieving business and customer requirements objectively and methodically. Six Sigma can be applied to operational management issues, or it can directly support strategic management development and implementation. It is more oriented toward solutions of problems at their root cause and prevention of their recurrence rather than attempting to control potential causes of failure on a project-by-project basis.
The main reason for companies adopting the Six Sigma relates to the increase in profit margins. Part of that purpose is achieved by continuously reducing the variation in the processes by eliminating defects or flaws in products and services.
Today, Six Sigma is seen as a focused management practice to improve the profitability of any company, regardless of its size. Six Sigma aims to increase market share, reduce costs and optimize the operations of the company that uses it.
In a broader sense, Six Sigma can be seen as the completion and closure of projects aimed at solving the most important problems of the organization in order to increase their wealth. This direction is achieved from an allocation of the most competent people, providing them with the requisite resources and support so that the work is performed without interruption.
Integrating Six Sigma techniques with the project management methodologies is the way to go for companies focusing on continuous improvement.
The DMAIC methodology in Six Sigma (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) provides a structured approach to solving business issues. The tools used in Six Sigma are meant to identify the root causes for process defects so that the company can provide to the customers consistent quality products on time and at low cost. The project management tools and techniques emphasis the project attributes such as development, control, completion etc.
Though the Six Sigma methodology is effective when it comes to troubleshooting or for improving the current processes in existence using the DMAIC method, there are some issues to be considered. If Six Sigma alone is used for project management then controlling the project processes can be difficult. This is because the DMAIC approach is for controlling process improvements and not for controlling the project management process.
Combing the process control facet of project management with the troubleshooting factor of Six Sigma would ensure that the organization can create a process troubleshooting system that is consistent, controlled and most importantly predictable. One can integrate these two very strong methods at the beginning of the project life cycle itself while planning. Utilizing the Six Sigma techniques for problem definition would reduce the chance for errors in assessment.
The Six Sigma tools for problem measurement can be utilized in the validation phase in the project management. Incorporating budgeting, scheduling and resource management into the life cycle will ensure that the management is in a better position to make informed decisions. Utilizing these Six Sigma tools throughout all the phases of the project would incorporate effective troubleshooting and efficient processes into the project management methodology. The project management in turn would help in monitoring and tracking the project progress, thus adding to the control element to the project.
Hence as companies are striving to improve their processes, while reducing costs and bringing to the market newer products which add to the profit, the integration of Six Sigma with project management is inevitable. This integration would help in cost reduction, enhancing process efficiency, rapid implementation and faster product development cycles
Six Sigma can complement and extends PMBOK Project Management Process, but does not replace it. Both disciplines help each other and make important contributions to successful business outcomes.