iSixSigma

Software/IT

Lean Implementation for IT Company

An information technology (IT) services company was engaged by a European telecom service provider to provide end-to-end testing for its five lines of business. End-to-end testing is a methodology used to test whether the flow of a software application is functioning as expected from start to finish – for example, from receipt of customer order…

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Predicting Code Inspection Faults

Inspections are one of the most common methods of review performed in software teams. The goal of code inspection is to identify software faults early in the software development lifecycle. Teams are faced with the challenge, however, of determining whether those inspections are effective. One way to quantify this is by predicting the total number…

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Computacenter Returns to Best Places to Work List

Computacenter AG & Co. oHG, an information technology (IT) services firm that first began its Six Sigma deployment 14 years ago, has made its second consecutive appearance on iSixSigma’s Best Places to Work list. Computacenter was ranked at No. 10 for this year’s list, the same position it was given in the 2010 list. The…

Lean Line Balancing in the IT Sector

Line balancing – the process of aligning operations within a specific production line to minimize production fluctuations and operational downtime – is often closely associated with the manufacturing sector. However, it also can be applied to any process-based organization that delivers output on a frequent basis. Some examples where line balancing can be used in…

Top Lean Six Sigma IT Trends to Come in 2011

As the calendar flips to 2011, several technology experts and software providers have made predictions about how Lean Six Sigma and other process improvement methodologies will shape IT departments in the coming year. Collected here are four of their forecasts for the next 12 months.

Planning Ahead with Project-Specific Software Process Models

Lean Six Sigma projects involving software development are an increasingly popular option for IT departments that are seeking to improve their efficiency. However, a number of research studies demonstrate that the average percentage of software projects that achieve all project objectives is significantly less than might be expected. For instance, a Standish Group survey conducted…

Integrating Lean Six Sigma with Agile and Scrum

Scrum is an Agile project management methodology that can be used to control software and product development using iterative, incremental practices. Scrum generates the benefits of Agile development with the advantages of a simple implementation. This methodology can significantly increase productivity and reduce time to benefits while facilitating adaptive, empirical systems development.

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Trimming IT Fat with Lean Assessments

Organizations are under enormous pressure to use existing core business systems more effectively and efficiently. Budgets may shrink, but information technology (IT) departments are still expected – perhaps more than ever – to deliver the increased business value required for growth. Though many organizations are renegotiating pricing and exploring opportunities to send certain services to…

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Enhancing IT Quality Metrics with Six Sigma

One of the initial challenges of enhancing IT quality metrics is to manage the mountain of data produced at a typical organization. Those organizations that have not learned how to mine their existing information to find solutions tend to track their data via spreadsheets and then generate high-level reports for executive management. Often, major gaps…

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Career Advice for IT and Six Sigma Professionals

When facing an imminent layoff, what path should Six Sigma professionals with a technical background take to get into the information technology (IT) arena? This topic was brought up in a recent online conversation on the iSixSigma Discussion Forums. The suggestions included getting familiar with the capability maturity model (CMM), joining an IT organization, becoming…

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Finding a Value-added Fit with Agile Development

The gains that Lean Six Sigma has brought in the areas of manufacturing, operations and physical product design speak for themselves. It is natural to want to replicate that success in software design. To do that most effectively, however, practitioners must meld Lean Six Sigma with Agile, a software development technique that is gaining traction…

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Harnessing the Power of Predictive Analytics

The demand for business intelligence is increasing at a rapid pace across all industries in today’s tough economic climate. As senior executives look to optimize existing business processes that can lead to bottom-line and top-line benefits, one option is to tap into predictive analytics, a type of data mining that can be used to make…

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Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 3

Parts one and two of this series surveyed the work connected with several goals shared by software organizations and Six Sigma (Goals 1-3 in Table 1). We saw that reaching those goals involved establishing systems to identify defects, classify them according to type and point of origin, predict their occurrence, and assess actual defect find…

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Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 4

This article is the last of four parts. It presents a discussion of opportunities for defects (OFD), defects per million opportunities (DPMO) and Sigma levels. When comparing implementations across companies, using the common language of DPMO and Sigma levels will assist in understanding benchmarking data. Parts one, two and three followed a progression of goals…

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Improving Offshore Outsourcing Efficiency with DFSS

Two recent conferences on software focused on the topics of Six Sigma for the software industry and general conference for the software vertical market. There was, as one would imagine, a tremendous amount of discussion relating to the offshore outsourcing of software development work to achieve significant cost reductions. This has been an emerging trend…

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Software Project Management Meets Six Sigma

Part 1: Bottom-up Project Duration and Variation Prediction. A number of recent posts in the iSixSigma Software Forum have inquired about the application of Six Sigma methods to Software Project Management. In particular, how might we look at software project duration as a key project-planning and execution output (a “Y” in common Six Sigma terms),…

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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Software Defect Prevention – In a Nutshell

Organizations face many problems that impede rapid development of software systems critical to their operations and growth. The challenge in any software product development lies in minimizing the number of defects. Occurrence of defects is the greatest contributor to significant increases in product costs due to correction and rework time. Most defects are caused by…

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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,…

Lowering the Cost of Ownership for Software Lifecycles

How will we remember the past eighteen months? Many will remember it as a time of economic slump, with lay-offs, low spending and a war in Iraq. The economic situation is not likely to improve during the remainder of 2003, leading organizations to focus on delivering value to their customers while demonstrating hard return-on-investment. Any…

Six Sigma for Software – A Role Based System

Part 1 in a series exploring Six Sigma Deployment for Software and IT Organizations Because the application of the Six Sigma methodology is relatively new to Software and IT, many of the readers of this web site may be unclear as to the methods of deploying Six Sigma into an organization successfully. From participation in…

Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 1

Six Sigma brings sharp focus to customer and business requirements and the defects connected with the failure to satisfy them. While the relevance of that view is clear enough to software professionals, their introduction to Six Sigma is often gets stopped short in questions about how the notions of yield, sigma level, or defects per…

Six Sigma Software Metrics, Part 2

Part 1 in this series on software defect metrics discussed Goals 1 and 2, which focused on identifying and removing defects in the development process as close to the point of occurrence as possible (Table 1). This installment looks at predicting defect insertion and removal dynamics early in a project and measuring predicted versus actual…

Software Vendor Partnership Cost Reduction with Six Sigma

Business Issue A multibillion-dollar software manufacturer needed to drive down the total $191 million annual cost of supplying its workers with continuously updated workstations. Both the software manufacturer and its primary vendor/supplier were in the midst of an aggressive cost cutting initiative that would lead to a new compensation model. The initial, first year targeted…

Six Sigma for Software – More Than a New Tool

We need to fundamentally change what’s going on in Software. FAST! Defects, long cycle times, poor estimation, missed targets and project cancellations are stripping away profits and our ability to satisfy and retain customers. It’s occurring in Software Development companies, Embedded Product Software (Firmware), and Business Application Software. And, it’s happening in all industry segments….

Toward an Integrated Six Sigma Software Knowledge-Base

I’m sure we are all happy to see the new iSixSigma channel dedicated to software. The growing knowledge base at this portal will take shape in the body of articles, discussion forum threads, links, and resources that are contributed. The most important factor in all this is, of course, you, the site participants. While the…

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…

The Five Essentials for Software Testing

The following advice should help clarify your thinking about software testing and help you improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your testing. It is helpful to think about software testing in terms of five essential elements: A test strategy that tells you what types of testing and the amount of testing you think will work…

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Six Sigma Meets Software Development

Six Sigma is a mantra that many of the most successful organizations in the world swear by and the trend is getting hotter by the day. So much so that corporations like GE insist that every project be a Six Sigma project. The Six Sigma methodology has indeed made a tangible difference to the bottom…

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Six Sigma in the Information Technology Services Sector

Challenges Faced Today Offer Solutions for Tomorrow Six Sigma has come a long way from statistically oriented tools to today’s “not so data driven” tools like Lean and quality function deployment (QFD). The application of Six Sigma across different sectors has made this change from statistical tools to softer tools possible. The methodologies and framework…

Tailoring Six Sigma to Software Development

As the popularity of Lean Six Sigma techniques expands into software and technology environments, the notion that these methods and tools can provide a quick fix, unrealistic results or a panacea (for all that is wrong) has been proliferated. Some of these notions are further compounded by the reality that many of these environments are…

Six Sigma in Data Warehousing Domain – IT Case Study

Most quality professionals recognize that Six Sigma is a breakthrough strategy. They understand that the methodology uses data to measure current process effectiveness and to validate improvement; uses proven statistical and quality tools to identify process gaps and improvement solutions; and uses change management processes for institutionalizing and integrating improvements in an organizations’ operational and…

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Improved IT Project Forecasting Through Six Sigma

The various costs of an information technology (IT) project is forecast at the beginning of the fiscal year and usually re-forecast at the end of each month based on the actual spending pattern. Variation in the IT project forecasting process can result in either underspent or overspent budgets. As is true in most processes, variation…

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Activities vs. Performance: Improvement, Common Sense

Most organizations have a strong bias toward planning, managing and executing a multitude of supposedly value-added activities hoping that these (often isolated) activities will yield significant results. In rare cases, activities are spawned by careful strategic planning, tracked regularly by performance data, reviewed for adjustments and improvements and integrated across functions, divisions and geographies. However,…

Usage-based Models Improve Odds in Software Testing

The need to test products of all kinds, software and physical products, often runs into challenges connected with: What to test? How to test? How long, how many tests to run? How to document the risk remaining after test? Software is particularly challenging because the properties worth exercising and assessing in tests are hard to…

ITIL and Six Sigma Make a Winning Combination for IT

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Six Sigma have both been successfully employed to improve the quality of information technology (IT) services. Often the two approaches, although distinctly different but with a common focus on customer satisfaction at their core, are used independently of each other. Fortunately many organizations are coming to realize the…

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Remove Obstacles for Six Sigma Within Agile Development

It can be challenging at first to find the connections between Six Sigma and Agile; a number of obstacles stand in the way of reaching an integrated view. But there is some untapped leverage that, if explored, may ease the use of the two methods. It is often more interesting to find the intersections that…

CMMI or Six Sigma: Does It Matter Which Comes First?

An organization is getting into process improvement. Should it look at the Software Engineering Institute’s capability maturity model integration (CMMI) first? Six Sigma first? Or both at the same time? This dilemma has confronted many organizations during the last several years. The situation reminds me of a session at a symposium in 1984 at which…

Implementing Six Sigma Methodology in a Small IT Firm

Leaders of small to medium-sized information technology (IT) businesses are aware of Six Sigma and what it has done for other organizations. However, some think that Six Sigma works only in large businesses. Six Sigma can help improve any organization by providing an important competitive edge. The main thing that prevents these IT firms from…

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A Parallel Process View for Information Technology

The value and impact that a solid Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) approach can bring to an IT business is well known. While many organizations understand the relationship between DFSS and their own project management approach, what they often miss is attention to the foundational concepts of Lean and DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)…

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How Six Sigma Can Help ITIL Service Level Management

Many information technology (IT) organizations are utilizing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) as a guiding framework for operational excellence. One of the many “best practices” within ITIL is utilization of service level agreements, (SLAs) and operational level agreements (OLAs). When implemented well, these agreements and associated management processes go far in establishing fruitful working…

Using Six Sigma Tools in an Agile Software Project

It may be counter-intuitive to consider using Six Sigma tools in an Agile software project. Six Sigma’s genesis was in the manufacturing world where one of its primary goals has been to reduce process variation. On the other hand, Agile software development is built on the premise that complex software projects, unlike manufacturing, cannot be…

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What CIOs and CTOs Need to Know About Lean Six Sigma

CIOs and CTOs are faced with a plethora of issues ranging from corporate realignment to growth to shrinking budgets. Many have heard about Lean Six Sigma but given their busy state of mind, it is difficult for them to dedicate the time required to translate Lean Six Sigma successes in top manufacturing company’s to its…

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…

Manage IT Projects and Resources the Six Sigma Way

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

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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