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Srinath Biyyala

Lean Six Sigma in Software Industry

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Make no mistake, Six Sigma can bring huge advancements in any of the industry that uses it. There has to be a compelling reason as why you go for a Six Sigma project, especially more so if it is for IT industry. The reason being two fold primarily. 1. IT industry helps more often than not in expanding the business for the customer rapidly, exponentially and ensures the time to market the business is reduced. 

2. Agile  is the modern day buzzword in IT industry. Agile model brings the requisite aspects to ensure the businesses of an organisation's customers are expanded rapidly and their end-users's changing demands are met on the fly.


Now the issue is do the IT organisations have the time, energy and resources (and the related costs associated to this) to invest on Six Sigma which is a laborious and time-consuming and intensive approach, for dealing a perennial or persistent problem. More often than not many organisations take alternative viable approaches. But some IT organisations do invest on this, if the Return On Investment (ROI) is very high- it could be say a huge cost reduction for.the customer. Otherwise, this approach is not considered. Assuming Six Sigma project is started. Two areas , I feel straightaway problematic are Data Collection and Hypothesis testing. Data Collection- it's difficult to get the actual data and the veracity of.the data..Also getting the right volume of data(sampling size) will be a challenge as the data collecting rigour will not be good/great (in many projects) . Hypothesis testing will not be straight-forward, as well , in general. These are general symptoms that are associated with Six Sigma projects in IT sector.


However, there are some six sigma /quality tools, which  can be used in Software Industry. Kano Model (when customer requirements need to be prioritised. Useful so that minimum viable product can be developed at shortest possible time), FMEA (for Risk), Pugh Matrix (when choosing an option with multiple  criteria) ,Fishbone and Pareto Chart(Causal Analysis) etc..,. 



Even if an IT organisation is not doing a six sigma project, applying the six  tools.and techniques (wherever possible) in a software project can show a difference in the way how a process related to that activity is behaving or improving  (the activity to which the technique was applied). Or the activity itself can get transformed to a different level.  

Also, as and if there is a good data collection process- wherein by , if we are able to identify the source of the data, have enough data and the data is actual and the customer is agreeing for a Six Sigma project and if there is a proper measuring system to measure your data , then you can start a Six Sigma project (assuming your sponsor okays the project). If this is an internal project (that can also be done), then the internal customer can guide you with relevant information. Getting these prerequisites is the key. In this fast-paced world, how.many would want this approach, is the question.



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