The AMA Handbook of Project Management

By Paul C. Dinsmore; Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 31
Six Sigma and Project Management
RIP STAUFFER, SENIOR CONSULTANT, WOODSIDE QUALITY SOLUTIONSIn general, Six Sigma is a data-driven, project-based, teamdriven, and customer-focused methodology for achieving breakthrough levels of performance in strategically important processes. Six Sigma is essentially a quality initiative, in the vein of Total Quality Management (TQM), Lean Manufacturing, Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Statistical Process Control (SPC), and Continuous Improvement (CI). Many of these other process quality initiatives focus largely on the ongoing management and control of processes; many of the actions taken for improvement tend to be relatively quick turnaround, “just-do-it” reactions to emergent signals from the process. (For further discussion of some of these quality initiatives, see Chapter 11A.)It’s worth noting that although Six Sigma is the most successfully marketed quality initiative in recent years, it packages many of the tools and concepts from other approaches. It builds on earlier approaches by bringing new tools to the mix. The fact that it is project-based makes it of particular interest to the Project Management world. Six Sigma projects tend to be longer term than those of other quality initiatives—four to six months is a commonly accepted standard.The term “Six Sigma” originated as a goal for process improvement at Motorola in the late 1980s. While organizations’ perceptions of Six Sigma (and so their definitions and practices) vary, most Six Sigma approaches share some common features and concepts, notably:
The use of data analysis and a scientific approach to problem solving.
Project teams.

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