Manage IT Projects and Resources the Six Sigma Way

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Best-practice companies have been using Lean Six Sigma to drive Information Technology (IT) improvements and better software designs for years. But broad acceptance, despite proven results in the sector, has been slow. This may be due to a lack of understanding about the processes and benefits of Lean Six Sigma. By exploring how Lean Six […]

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Exploring Defect Containment Metrics in Agile

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While Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Agile software development seem to have different orientations, there is more linkage than meets the eye. On one hand, DFSS and Agile appear to be at odds: DFSS talks about “stages” and tollgates, which Agile eschews in favor of Lean “single piece” or small batch flow. DFSS talks […]

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Six Sigma Encourages Improvement Within CMMI Framework

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Six Sigma is a powerful improvement program that started in manufacturing but has subsequently proven to be useful in a multitude of industries, including software development. But many of the assumptions and approaches of using Six Sigma in traditional industries may not be relevant in information technology (IT) and software development. Traditional Six Sigma program […]

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Tips for Defining and Collecting IT Process Metrics

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Several information technology (IT) metrics can be developed on the basis of best practice frameworks such as capability maturity model integration (CMMI) and information technology infrastructure library (ITIL). Measuring and collecting such data, which is often part of process improvement initiatives, brings to light what is happening in IT processes. Following are a few tips […]

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Defect Prevention: Reducing Costs and Enhancing Quality

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“Prevention is better than cure” applies to defects in the software development life cycle as well as illnesses in medical science. Defects, as defined by software developers, are variances from a desired attribute. These attributes include complete and correct requirements and specifications as drawn from the desires of potential customers. Thus, defects cause software to […]

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Causal Loop Diagrams: An Orientation in Software Context

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Among the tried and true tools in the Six Sigma kit, cause-and-effect diagrams in the simple form of a tree, a fishbone or a Y-to-x diagram are a big help in identifying factors (x’s) that may drive changes in a results variable of interest (Y). There are times, though, that a flat, two-dimensional hierarchy does […]

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Proper Scoping a Key in IT Order Fulfillment Project: An iSixSigma Case Study

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One of the biggest challenges in any Six Sigma order fulfillment project is the scoping. Having clear boundaries on what aspects will and will not be covered in the project is paramount to its success. Scoping sometimes indicates that a single Black Belt project could overwhelm the Black Belt leader. With too large a playing […]

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Using Core Effectiveness Metrics to Drive Improvement

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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 […]

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Lean Template System Reduces Document Waste

Lean Template System Reduces Document Waste

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Excessive – and often redundant – documentation can often be found in organizations handling outsourced projects. To overcome this waste, follow a simple plan for leaning existing documents, and for creating new Lean documents.

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One IT Size Does Not Fit All; Lean Six Sigma Can Help

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Although information technology (IT) organizations can share commonalities at a general level, each has its own, unique set of characteristics interacting in ways that result in their own performance signatures. Even performance measurements are not identical. Each is its own system, its own environment supporting a specific company’s needs. Just as companies are diverse in […]

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Dealing with SLAs and Visitors from “Outlier” Space

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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 […]

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Connecting Six Sigma to CMMI Measurement and Analysis

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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 […]

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Improving the Value of the IT Service Delivery Process

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While most information technology (IT) organizations are constantly struggling to demonstrate cost savings, too few are focusing on ways to add value to the business. Alignment with the business is where the emphasis should be for IT departments. CIOs today are actively involved in divesting business processes, and partnering with new offshore providers in countries […]

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IT Development: Finding Balance Between Business and IT

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A discussion about an ideal IT system often centers on user friendliness, system reliability, and implementation on time and on budget. These discussions should also include how to create more business value through the development of systems following a disciplined, fact based approach with a clear customer focus. For example, consider a telecom provider who […]

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Start Software Testing With All Five Essentials in Place

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Five essential elements are required for successful software testing. If any one of the five is missing or inadequate, the test effort will most likely fall far short of what could otherwise be achieved. Exploring these five essentials can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any software testing program. Here are the five essential […]

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Leveraging Six Sigma and the IT Infrastructure Library

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“As technology moves more and more into the very fabric of our existence, the real-time existence of consumers and businesses and the economy, the reliability of systems will need to reach the level of dial-tone. Consequently, the techniques used to develop systems, the quality of these systems, and the demands on the performance of these […]

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Wrestling with IT-Six Sigma Integration Survey Results

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Readers may be familiar with the results of a survey on the integration of Six Sigma and information technology (IT) published by iSixSigma Magazine in its May/June issue. The survey, conducted and analyzed by Michael Marx, research manager of iSixSigma, revealed four important truths which provide meaningful insight to any organization attempting to apply Six […]

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Need for Six Sigma in the Age of Information Technology

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Since the start of the information technology age, software quality has been an ambiguous term, meaning different things to different people. It has been defined internally from the viewpoint of software developers; and it has been defined externally from the viewpoint of end users of the software. But either way, early in the history of […]

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Core Set of Effectiveness Metrics for Software and IT

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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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Help Desk Can Provide Help for Process Improvements

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Lack of data may be the most frequently communicated barrier to identification and selection of projects in the IT domain. Fortunately, most organizations have a tremendous untapped resource that is easily accessible – their help desks or support centers. Help desks generally are good at solving problems or determining where more difficult problems should be addressed […]

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Developing an Agile Planning and Tracking Scorecard

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Agile changes the nature of planning and tracking. The term agile is used to refer to a variety of software development frameworks (like scrum, XP, crystal methods) which all share approaches to scoping work and managing the delivery of working features. Using scrum as an example (Figure 1), it is clear that the available development […]

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

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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 […]

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Enabling Technology Adoption by Using Six Sigma

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A survey sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) finds that Six Sigma is feasible as an enabler of the adoption of software, systems and IT improvement models and practices.

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Case Study - Salvaging a Call Center's Big Software Investment

Case Study: Salvaging a Call Center’s Big Software Investment

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Software can be a helpful tool but it is not a magic wand. After investing half a million dollars in tracking software for its call center and still seeing a high volume of complaints, one company used DMAIC to turn a disaster into a success.

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