iSixSigma

Software/IT

Six Sigma Encourages Improvement Within CMMI Framework

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…

Tips for Defining and Collecting IT Process Metrics

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…

1 comment

Defect Prevention: Reducing Costs and Enhancing Quality

“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…

8 comments

Causal Loop Diagrams: An Orientation in Software Context

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…

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…

Lean Template System Reduces Software Document Waste

With the growing need for reducing waste in all aspects of work done in an organization, people are looking at innovative ways to obtain this objective. One waste area, often found in organizations handling outsourced projects, is excessive – and often redundant – documentation. These organizations may be certified against a variety of standards, which…

1 comment

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

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…

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…

Improving the Value of the IT Service Delivery Process

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…

IT Development: Finding Balance Between Business and IT

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…

Start Software Testing With All Five Essentials in Place

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…

2 comments

Leveraging Six Sigma and the IT Infrastructure Library

“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…

Developing an Agile Planning and Tracking Scorecard

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…

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…

Wrestling with IT-Six Sigma Integration Survey Results

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…

Need for Six Sigma in the Age of Information Technology

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…

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…

1 comment

Help Desk Can Provide Help for Process Improvements

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…

Salvaging a Call Center’s Big Software Investment

The sales pitch for a new tracking software sounded perfect to the management of an internal call center for a mid-sized financial institution. The call center handled technical problems and policy issues for branch offices across the country – though it was not doing a very good job at either, judging by the increased complaints…

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…

3 comments

Debunking IT Isolation in Search of Quality and Savings

Often considered an island unto itself, technology development and implementation does not really occur in a vacuum. However, the interrelated nature of managerial, quality and technological systems, and the inherent benefits of a truly integrated view are not necessarily evident to the information technology (IT) professional. Consequently, increasing implementation costs and an array of idiosyncratic…

1 comment