Values That the Six Sigma Project Management Model Offers to a Project Manager

by Debra Kraft

Six Sigma doesn't specifically include a project management model, but Six Sigma concepts and tools do provide a strong complement to commonly used project management models. Project managers can use Six Sigma methodologies during the course of managing new product, process or system launches to clarify requirements and reduce risks.

Six Sigma Versus PMBOK

Six Sigma is an approach to process efficiency that uses statistical analysis and introduces changes in a carefully monitored fashion. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a comprehensive set of guides and standards that are recognized as best-practice approaches to delivering successful projects. There are similarities in PMBOK and Six Sigma processes, but some specific Six Sigma tools can give project managers a greater likelihood of success.

Project Planning

Six Sigma can reduce the risk of project failure caused by defining project requirements inaccurately or incompletely. The design for Six Sigma process introduces tools that can help project managers to capture both stated and unstated requirements. These tools enable project managers to recognize what customers truly expect at project completion -- not just what customers say they want.

Schedule and Objectives Management

Six Sigma can help project managers to manage schedules and objectives more efficiently. Using Six Sigma's analytical hierarchy process, project managers can more easily identify and prioritize an often complex set of tasks and milestones. By weighting and scoring input criteria, the analytical hierarchy process enables effective and objective decision making for all aspects of the project, including timing and budget planning.

Quality Control

Six Sigma tools introduce process controls to help project managers recognize when outputs aren't reaching the desired or expected level of quality. Process tools such as SIPOC, FMEA and control plans provide for a highly controlled work flow focused on facts and measures. SIPOC, which stands for supplier, inputs, process, outputs and customer, defines all aspects of each process in a project's life cycle. FMEA, which stands for failure mode and effects analysis, guides project teams to explore what could go wrong so they can fix it before it does. Control plans identify process measures capable of highlighting when objectives are starting to slip.

About the Author

A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.

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