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Benefits of Blending Six Sigma Practices With Project Management Methodologies

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/30/2013

Combining a Six Sigma approach with project management guidelines helps in completing project-related assignments in a cost-effective manner. It ensures that organizational guidelines are followed.

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    Business enterprises around the world share some common objectives such as minimizing their production or operational costs. Producing unique products and services ensures a bigger share in their respective markets in order to earn higher profits. For achieving such organizational goals, every business has realized the importance of adhering to some form of quality maintenance or process improvement methodology.

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    Why Use Six Sigma?

    There are many methods that have been endorsed over the last few decades, but very few have had universal success. One such quality-centric approach is the implementation of Six Sigma methodologies. One reason that has universally made Six Sigma the preferred choice is its core concept of always seeking innovative but practical ways to set higher benchmarks for quality improvement rather than being satisfied with the execution of stipulated quality control measures.

    Six Sigma-defined management tools have proved to be highly effective in raising an organization's competency by assisting in the management of ongoing projects. As a result, organizations increasingly embrace Six Sigma methodologies as an effective tool. Six Sigma practices have become widespread throughout industry.

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    Is the Integration Really Necessary?

    One of the most famous Six Sigma tools called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) offers a structured approach for resolving organizational management-related issues. DMAIC can be understood as a troubleshooting-cum-improvement focused approach utility tool.

    However, relying exclusively on Six Sigma means maintaining a project’s hierarchical control when organizational authority is not being monitored. Again, Six Sigma cannot provide an insight into understanding customer needs.

    Similarly, project management techniques are focused on project development, including its conception, task execution, and hierarchal control but fail to guarantee the adherence to the defined quality standards throughout a project’s lifecycle.

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    Are There Integration Tools?

    It is now an established fact that blending a Six Sigma approach with project management guidelines helps in completing project-related assignments in a cost-effective manner and ensures that organizational guidelines are followed. However, many business enterprises remain apprehensive about using this blended approach.

    The reason lies in the lack of awareness about combining the two as an effective management tool. Usually, there is apprehension about using a collaborative system, fearing that certain expensive pre-defined integration tools will have to be adopted. However, an organization doesn't need to depend upon using any such tools — this integration is totally customizable and Six Sigma and Project Management methodologies can be combined in any preferred format that suits an organization’s personalized requirements.

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    Does Integration Work?

    The integration of the two suggested techniques blends the monitoring aspect of project management tools with the problem-resolving and quality-centric troubleshooting features of Six Sigma. While Six Sigma ensures that qualitative objectives are met, project management contributes in monitoring the steps and milestones throughout the project’s lifecycle.

    Six Sigma uses many assessment tools such as R&R (Repeatability and Reproducibility) and FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis). Combining them with project management features such as budgeting, resource management, and scheduling ensures that every small task in the project’s lifecycle is comprehensively managed. That means the organization is guaranteed consistent performances across various projects without needing to adopt any new management tools.

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    Achieving Hoped-For Outcomes

    The approach can be simply understood as merging two existing individual organizational processes to create one extremely effective integrated tool. Further, it suits nearly every kind of organization, i.e. transactional or manufacturing enterprises. An organization that adopts an integration of project management and Six Sigma methods is guaranteed overall process quality enhancements along with cost reduction and better market capture capability.

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