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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…

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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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Software Development Assessments for the 21st Century

During the last 35 years, software development and technology processes in general have evolved at a rapid, even chaotic, rate. These processes range from small, Lean, agile (sometimes labeled iterative) development pockets to large, bureaucracy-laced legacy projects of tremendous scope (sometimes labeled waterfall development) and everything in between. Many organizations have undertaken attempts to classify,…

Harvesting Benefits of Both Lean and Six Sigma in IT

Information technology (IT) organizations increasingly are under pressure to improve their service and process capability. In the quest for improvement methodologies, organizations often adopt a “pick one” strategy – with Six Sigma being the widely favored choice. However, it is possible to integrate Lean and Six Sigma and reap the full benefits that these methodologies can…

Ten Key Technologies for Lean Process Improvement

Home mortgage loans in the United States usually closed in about four weeks even a couple of years ago. Some on-line mortgage loan originators are doing the same closings in about two weeks now. Safeco, one of the largest insurance services providers in the country, needed a week to make any changes in coverage in…

Applying Lean Six Sigma in an Automated IT Process

Lean and Six Sigma generally tend to be viewed as methodologies that are most successfully applied in a manufacturing environment. In the last several years, however, companies also have had notable results in transactional and administrative processes. Recently Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, has successfully adapted Lean Six Sigma to apply even to…

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…

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…

Six Sigma Tools for Every Day Projects and Processes

During a Six Sigma symposium, speaker after speaker presented good information on Six Sigma concepts, tools and approaches to use when working on a Six Sigma project. If these Six Sigma tools, approaches templates, etc., are good for Six Sigma projects, why not use them in day-to-day software development and IT processes? Learning Objectives It…

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…

Leverage ITIL and Six Sigma Together to Maximize Outcome

Information technology (IT) services are highly valued in today’s enterprise particularly those aligned with business needs. As IT departments transition from technology to service based management, more organizations are following the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework. ITIL is a set of best practices intended to facilitate the delivery of high quality IT services. ITIL…

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Lean Banking: It Is Not Always Just Single-Piece Flow

“Let the process flow.” “Let the customer pull.” This is what is written in manufacturing books about making processes Lean. But it is not always that simple. Consider this banking example. A customer arrives at a bank branch: He enters, is welcomed by an employee and offered a cup of coffee. He explains his interest…

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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…

Controlling the Process That Controls Business Processes

Since the early 1970s software and information technology (IT) has been significantly changing the way products, processes and services are designed, delivered and maintained. At an exponentially increasing rate, software and IT have become the driving force in the way people work, recreate and educate. Most experts estimate this global “industry” at about US $1…

Using Triage to Manage Process Workloads in Services

It is something everyone has experienced: Walking into a bank and finding we’re the sixth person in line. Having a computer go down and discovering that it will take hours or days before someone can come to fix it. Getting an urgent request and having to set aside the 10 other things we were supposed…

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…

Roadmap for Integrating ITIL, CMMI and Lean Six Sigma

Several documented approaches are available for business and IT leaders to use when considering implementing the best practices of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), or the Software Engineering Institute’s capability maturity model integration (CMMI) or Lean Six Sigma as individual methodologies or frameworks. There also are some references that suggest how to use the…

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…

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Optimizing Software/IT Role in a Typical Organization

Whether the business unit is called information systems, information technology, software development or some other name, the group that provides these services is often among the most misunderstood and undefined in a corporation. And it is no wonder, considering that technology capabilities and dependence are rapidly expanding, combined with an ever-changing array of desktop and…

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…

Software and Systems: The Disciplines of CRM

  The total customer relationship management (CRM) market will reach $12.1 billion by 2004, representing an annual growth rate of 29.9 percent, according to the 2000 CRM Market Forecast and Analysis prepared by IDC, the world’s leading provider of information technology data and analysis. It is highly unlikely, however, that the CRM market will reach…

Making Use of DFLSS to Cultivate a Shared Compute Farm

Digital check processing. Fraud detection. Compliance monitoring. Trading floor analytics. These are all integral functions for many modern financial service institutions. And all have one thing in common – they require a huge amount of computing power. One approach to providing fast responses even with highly complex computations is distributed computing, or creating a shared compute…

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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Reducing IT User Downtime Using TQM – A Case Study

This Information Technology (IT) case study was done during the implementation of total quality management (TQM) in a financial services company with several hundred computers and computer users in multiple locations throughout India. The results have widespread applicability and in particular are aimed at organizations with large computer networks, IT facilities management companies and customer…

Reducing Delays in Service Processes with Rapid Setup

A P&L manager who is preparing a monthly report starts gathering the information he needs. He realizes that this month’s sales figures are not broken out by region, so he calls accounting and asks for the regional split as quickly as possible. He also discovers that he has updates on only three of the four…

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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…

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