Six Sigma Drives IT Innovation

If you think Six Sigma is not for you, think again.

The old notions about Six Sigma are being challenged. It’s no longer just a quality-management framework for manufacturing firms — it’s quickly becoming an efficiency driver for IT organizations.
Riding on its popularity in the manufacturing sector at early adopters like Motorola in the mid-1980’s, Six Sigma gained momentum in IT earlier in this decade. But “Six Sigma in IT” has so far been mostly about applying quality-improvement programs on top of services delivery, and of making it a complementary discipline along with Capability for Mature Model for Software programs.

Now, progressive IT organizations across the world are launching their own Six Sigma programs, with the aim of achieving savings through improvements in quality and productivity, and also launching programs of innovation funded by those savings. Six Sigma comes with independent yet complementary sets of tools that can support the distinct activities of optimizing current operations and launching programs of innovation.

While IT organizations are institutionalizing prorgams to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) for operational gains, they are also beginning to take a look at the other, not so widely explored and tapped side of Six Sigma aimed at promoting and enabling strategic thinking and innovation. That process is called Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), or DMADV, which stands for define, measure, analyze, design, and verify.

DFSS is distinctly different from the classic DAMIC process. It is explorative in nature, as opposed to being exploitative. It aims to cover the entire product/service life-cycle as opposed to DMAIC which only focuses on the last two of the five stages of a service life-cycle, as listed by ITIL (i.e. service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continuous service improvement).

While DMAIC is helping companies increase productivity and the quality of existing products, resulting in higher levels of customer satisfaction, DFSS can help them to aim for customer delight and may even catapult them to a market-leading position. 

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