iSixSigma

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Gary A. Gack

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Combining CMMI, PSP, TSP, and Six Sigma for Software

PSP and TSP are software development process definitions (some might call them ‘methodologies’) that are compatible with a wide range of software development concepts such as spiral development, object oriented development, and various other sets of techniques, each with certain advantages in modeling and describing requirements and designs for software systems. One way of viewing…

Six Sigma Software Development Case Study

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study – Part 2

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six Sigma program for software development,…

Is Software Inspection Value Added?

In manufacturing circles it is generally accepted that inspections are money wasted. But in the world of software that is definitely not the case. This brief case study uses scorecards to illustrate the value and payoff that can be realized by introducing software inspections. By comparing defect counts and defect fix efforts from two completed…

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Business Process Management for Software Development

The term “business process management” (BPM) is often encountered in conjunction with Six Sigma and Lean initiatives. Typically it refers to identification of core business processes, assignment of process ownership and definition of measures (and perhaps benchmarks) that indicate the health of a particular process. These measures are often influential in selection of Six Sigma…

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Lean Six Sigma Meets Darwin and Market Segmentation

Lean Six Sigma – like most things that continue to flourish – evolves. It grows, expands and adapts to fill new niches. Marketing professionals have identified evolutionary patterns common to many different products, services and markets – including Lean Six Sigma. Understanding these patterns is significant when considering purchase of Lean Six Sigma services and…

Software and IT Measurement Systems: Effort Accounting

Effort accounting is needed in software and IT for the simple reason that labor is generally the most important controllable element of cost. Labor cost (effort hours times prevailing labor rate) is an essential and fundamental element of efficiency measurement. Six Sigma projects in software and IT (especially DMAICs) are often focused on driving down…

Connections Between Design for Six Sigma and CMMI

While there are more than a few connections between the Six Sigma DMAIC roadmap and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), some practitioners may not be aware of the connections between CMMI and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS). CMMI has four process categories, each contains several process areas that are associated with a maturity level (Table…

Project Selection: Don’t Pan for Gold in Your Hot Tub!

One of the most frequent questions asked by software groups new to Six Sigma is something like, “What types of problems should we address with Six Sigma?” While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this sort of question, there are criteria that are universally applicable and provide a project selection framework that covers general top-level…

A New Year Parable: Six Sigma and the Three Bears, Inc.

  In a recent engagement with Three Bears, Inc., a Six Sigma consulting company had the opportunity to work with Six Sigma deployment leaders in several business units of this large multi-national organization. A quick review of several of these experiences illustrates some of the issues commonly encountered in trying to get the porridge “just…

Green Belt, Black Belt, Now the Six Sigma ‘Money Belt’

In addition to the more familiar Green Belt and Black Belt, some Six Sigma organizations have defined another role – a “Money Belt.” The function of the Money Belt is to provide an independent and objective evaluation of the financial benefits projections and the actual results achieved by Six Sigma projects. Chosen by the chief…

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Using Core Effectiveness Metrics to Drive Improvement

A case can be made for using cost-of-quality metrics, combined with defect data, as overall measures of software and IT organizational effectiveness (Figure 1). The next logical step is to illustrate how these metrics might be used to drive improvement. The illustration can best be made with a “case study” of the famous-but-mythical software and…

Applying Six Sigma to Software Implementation Projects

Although the application of Six Sigma in software development is more frequently discussed, the methodology also can be applied to software implementation projects as well. Those familiar with software implementations know that they seldom go as planned. Delays are common, cost overruns are endemic and failures are frequent. Why is this so common? What can…

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Is Six Sigma for Real? Question Deserves Solid Answers

Is Six Sigma for real? Is it the factor responsible for improvements? How much Six Sigma is really necessary to get positive results? Doesn’t any quality improvement method yield similar results? These questions are always in the minds of people in every organization – sometimes out in the open, sometimes not. In a thoughtful response to…

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Dealing with SLAs and Visitors from “Outlier” Space

Those in the information technology (IT) field often encounter service level agreements (SLAs) that define the performance a customer can expect from a particular process or service, such as a help desk. Often, these agreements are established by negotiation rather than by a more scientific approach that would be used in a Six Sigma process…

Connecting Six Sigma to CMMI Measurement and Analysis

Measurement and analysis (MA) is a Level 2 support process area within the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) process. The purpose of MA is to provide management information necessary to implement monitoring and control of various required processes. Source: Ahern, Clouse and Turner, CMMI Distilled: A Practical Introduction to Integrated Process Improvement, second edition, Addison…

Implications of Analyses of Software Inspections Data

A variety of analyses can be done during the Analyze phase of a Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) software project with data from Fagan-style inspections. These analyses suggest possible implications when considering Improve activities. Analyses used here are based on a real situation and the conclusions drawn are valid in that situation,…

Core Set of Effectiveness Metrics for Software and IT

Most software and IT organizations have great difficulty measuring organizational efficiency and effectiveness, despite a bewildering array of metrics that have been proposed and occasionally used. However, a basic-yet-powerful set of metrics that gets to the heart of these issues does exist, and at the same time facilitates the application of Six Sigma. It is…

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A Software Project’s Cycle Time: Are We There Yet?

Software project managers, who are responsible for shepherding software projects to completion, often feel like they are on a cross-country trip with several youngsters in the back seat. It seems like every few minutes someone asks, “Are we there yet?” Cycle time for a software project is usually understood to mean the elapsed calendar time…

Six Sigma and the Software Development Life Cycle

Many software organizations are beginning to use Six Sigma, and are finding that they need to rationalize its relationship to the standard software development life cycle process. A number of issues and alternatives arise when this need is addressed. Roadmaps and Software Development Life Cycles (SDLC) Six Sigma includes two complementary roadmaps. The first of…

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Using ‘Earned Value’ to Keep Control of Large Projects

Although the concept of “earned value” comes from the field of project management and pre-dates Six Sigma, it is one of many tools that are consistent with and complementary to Six Sigma. In particular, earned value is an effective tool for “fact-based conversations” and is particularly useful as a control mechanism for any sort of…

Six Sigma Applies to IT, as Evidenced by Success

Does Six Sigma apply to IT? This question is heard quite often. It echoes questions that have been asked many times since the first attempts to apply Six Sigma beyond manufacturing. Does Six Sigma apply to finance? Healthcare? Banking? Software? Insurance? In each of those areas the answer turned out to be “yes,” as widely…

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Six Sigma and the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Interest in Six Sigma is growing rapidly within the professional project management community, and the most common question coming from that group is something like “How does Six Sigma relate to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK)?” Six Sigma and PMBoK do have connections, similarities and distinctions. Before diving into specifics, a little background…

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Mad Belt Disease: Over-emphasis on Certification

An emerging trend – which can justifiably be labeled as a case of “Mad Belt Disease” – may be threatening the long-term credibility and success of Six Sigma. It is time for practitioners of Six Sigma to help stem the spread of what is beginning to look like an epidemic. This disturbing trend is the increasingly…

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