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Software implementation can be a grueling project. When a company is attempting new software integration, it can be chaotic. Six Sigma is a management strategy meant to identify and control defects. An overview of Six Sigma can be found in Natasha Baker’s “Key Concepts of Six Sigma.” The methodology consists of five steps:
These five steps can also apply in software implementation projects to ease the transition period and gain greater control over the defects in the process.
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1. Defining the Implementation
By defining the goals, projects, and deliverables your company will have greater direction during the transition. Is it your goal to have 25% of your staff comfortable enough to train the remaining staff? Do you want full implementation of the software by March? The goals and projects must be measurable. By utilizing Six Sigma metrics careful monitoring of team productivity and implementation success is possible.
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2. Measurement of the Implementation
Goals and projects must be usable with metrics. By using Six Sigma measurement methods, user understanding, familiarity, and progress are tracked accurately. As mentioned in “Why Six Sigma Metrics are Better”, continuous data is more useful than discrete data. This gives a better implementation success rate overview.
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3. Implementation Analysis
When defects occur analysis is important. The Six Sigma method looks at causal relationships and ensures all factors are considered. For example, in a software implementation trial, employees are frustrated and confused by new processes. Careful analysis will look at the reasons behind the confusion.
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4. Implementation Improvement
After analysis, it is important to look at how the implementation could improve. In the example utilizing the team members, perhaps utilizing proficient resources to mentor struggling reources will help. Six Sigma improvement relies upon experimental design and carefully constructed analysis of data in order to keep further defects in the implementation process at bay.
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5. Control of the Implementation
Any deviations from the goals set require correcting before they become defects. If you notice your team not adapting quick enough, causes need identifying before the deadline. Consistent monitoring for proficiency ensures the implementation does not fail. By carefully monitoring the implementation process, defects will be minimized.
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Any of the above SIx Sigma components can be utilized in your company's software implementation. The two most important features of software implementation using Six Sigma are setting measurable goals and employing metrics in order to maximize improvement and minimize the chance of defects in the new process. An article by Gary A. Gack at isixsigma.com explores concrete situations where Six Sigma tactics were helpful in averting chaos during the software implementation period.