iSixSigma

Software

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…

Software Development Convergence: Six Sigma-Lean-Agile

Some common messages are beginning to emerge from several software-relevant areas – Six Sigma for software, Agile development and Lean thinking. The links between Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Agile have been explored recently, but now a broader view yet can illustrate the way that Lean thinking, evolved from just-in-time manufacturing, aligns well with…

Using DFSS to Improve Offshore Outsourcing Efficiency

During the last several years, there has been 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 for about a dozen years, but one that has been recently accelerated and subject to wild variations in success and efficiency. A…

DFSS Meets Agile Development – Friend or Foe?

One of the big benefits of Six Sigma is the discipline it brings to the use of facts and measures to guide significant and predictable results. At first glance, that discipline might seem to fly in the face of the flexibility and creativity that also are very important in development and problem-solving. One potential collision…

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DOE in Software Testing: The Potential and the Risks

Testing software is hard work. Many aspects of software systems are difficult or impossible to observe and measure directly. That makes finding defects, characterizing performance and estimating reliability the toughest parts of the development process. While there are no silver bullets (and no “lead bullets” either, as per Dr. Barry Boehm, noted software engineering professor…

DFSS Study: Develop Software to Track Drug Side Effects

Integrating Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), IDOV (identify, design, optimize, validate) roadmap and selected DFSS tools in the information technology (IT) system development methodology can strengthen the business focus of IT system delivery. Adding additional steps at the beginning and end of the traditional system development cycle for DFSS can support the better understanding of…

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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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Using Fault Tree Analysis to Improve Software Testing

Testing a software product to remove hidden defects is an integral part of the software development life cycle (SDLC). Yet it is well accepted that running a software product through every possible scenario to check for defects is not just difficult, but usually impossible. The enormous cost and huge effort required is simply too much….

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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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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…

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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…

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,…

Tools That Complement SIPOC and Help Uncover Details

A SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) diagram is a standard part of most Six Sigma projects for good reason: It helps a team to pose and answer important questions about customers, suppliers, requirements and dependencies. In many cases a SIPOC table and a simple process map can go a long way in discovering the…

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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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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…

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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…

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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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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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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Use Cases and Measures: Strengthening the Six Sigma Link

“Use cases,” a term coined by Ivar Jacobson early in the evolution of object-oriented thinking, have been widely accepted as a helpful way to understand and document the functionality that is important in all kinds of software or business systems. Anyone within miles of object-oriented design will be familiar with the typical application of use…

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