Enter Six Sigma

Aaron is the former editor of ProjectsAtWork.com

No, it's not a secret society. Some 20 years strong, it can't be called a fad, either. Six Sigma is, in fact, a highly disciplined process that helps organizations improve the way they work to deliver better products and services. And it can be an ally to project managers.

From running credit checks to repairing engines, collecting trash to coding software, all organizations have processes — and sooner or later, they have projects to improve them. But many of these projects are as poorly defined or inefficiently managed as the very processes they are intended to improve. A sick doctor, it's safe to say, does not inspire much confidence in sick patients. Many businesses, in examining their performance ailments, have decided a strong dose of Six Sigma can help. Since its publicized adoption at Motorola and General Electric in the early '80s, Six Sigma has evolved into a leading methodology for operational efficiency, and not just in manufacturing and service-related industries but increasingly in other areas close to project management's "heart" such as software development.
As organizations implement Six Sigma, it usually doesn't take long for them to realize that sound project management practices are a critical component of success. Inevitably, project management-related questions arise: Where do project managers fit in to Six Sigma's statistical scheme? How can Six Sigma …

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