Diff. Bet CMM or Six Sigma

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    Nitesh Sondhi

    Below are my three questions please help me .What is the main differences between CMM and Six Sigma ?If anybody can help me .The differences that has more impact or say main diff. only .Which one is better and Why?When to use which one?Thanx



    That is like asking what is the difference between a Chevy and a grapefruit.  Six Sigma and CMM are different, and quite complimentary, things.
    Six Sigma is a methodology for process improvement.  Six Sigma tries to improve profitability by reducing defects and connecting more closely with your customer.
    CMM is a framework for assessing how “mature” a software organization is.  Data show that software development shops at higher maturity levels produce software more reliably on time/budget and with fewer defects.
    Some software organizations use Six Sigma as a way to improve their CMM assessments.  Six Sigma software shops use CMM as a guide for how well they are progressing, and as a clue as to where to find improvement opportunities.
    The highest CMM level does require that a development organization implement as “practices” many of the same kinds of tools used by Six Sigma practicioners.
    It is rarely a question of using one or the other, or whether one is somehow “better”.  They are quite different things.
    However, a CMM level one organization probably doesn’t have the metrics or organizational focus to really effectively implement Six Sigma.  So I would suggest that it might make sense to conduct a CMM assessment to see where you are (this isn’t an easy or cheap exercise, by the way).
    Most companies undertake CMM assessments because some large customer requires it.  In my view, this is somewhat wrong headed.  A CMM assessment is most effective when it is a cooperative exercise between a shop that wants to improve, and an assessor who can offer real insights into the shop’s weaknesses.  Simply setting a goal of getting to CMM level 2 or 3 and following up on it can yield great returns.
    However, Six Sigma can accelerate that process greatly, and can bring about improvements that aren’t necessarily addressed by CMM.  So SS by itself can also be a huge benefit.
    I would suggest looking carefully at the CMM level 2 KPAs.  If you really don’t understand where they are headed (and they really aren’t all that obvious), then consider a formal assessment.
    Once you understand your position, implement the metrics that you need to be able to show, with data, that you are at, say, level 3.  Not that you are there yet, just that you have the measurement systems in place.
    Once you have the measurement systems, then you can effectively implement a SS program to move you forward.  If you are able to find a good CMM assessor, you might want to continue with that relationship.  A good one can be like gold in helping your organization improve.
    I would hasten to add, however, that both CMM and Six Sigma take a lot of commitment from the top management of the company.  Both have rather astonishingly high costs, but both yield benefits far in excess of their cost.  Being able to stay on the game takes visionary leadership highly committed to making the organization better.


    Anjali Mogre

    It is difficult to tell the differences between CMM and Six Sigma. CMM provides a roadmap of achieving software maturity, while six sigma provides a tool set of process improvement. Six sigma methodology provides a structured problem solving approach. CMM tells you the gaps in your processes to become a “matured” organization. If both these initiatives go hand in hand in the same direction then the organization will benefit the most.
    CMM is typically done to assess the organization maturity, while six sigma projects are undertaken to improve / strengthen / smoothen the processes. It concentrates on one pain are and tries to solve the problem.
    CMM assessment is a strategic organizational decision, needs commitment from the entire organization. Six sigma can be an organizational initiative or can be a group or business unit initiative. It helps is resolving pain areas using systematic problem solving methodology. There is no hard and fast rule as which one to use. Some times it is client driven initiative, sometimes it is senior management mandate.



    Re-stating what has been said, CMM (or CMMi) and Six Sigma are similar in their goals – process improvement, but a bit different in their approach in how to achieve this.
    CMM describes how one may improve process capability through a progression of increasingly more complex processes, and the progression is viewed as a “maturing”. In CMM there is a detailed description of “what” requirements the processes in question must fulfill. (Note: the “how” part has to be addressed by the implementation)
    Six Sigma on the other hand, does not provide any process definition or description. Rather, it defines techniques, tools (SPC, etc.) and methodologies (DMAIC, DFSS, etc.) that may be used to analyse, control and ultimately improve ANY process.
    Thus, both CMM as well as Six Sigma may co-exist quite comfortably within a single process improvement strategy – CMM providing the requirements for individual processes, and Six Sigma providing the CONCRETE techniques, tools and methodoloy for actually getting better “capability” from the “CMM” processes.
    My 2 cents worth !

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