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Lean, Six Sigma and Project Management Together

What do you get when you take a handful of Six Sigma mixed with a quarter cup of Lean and mix the two together in a blender? According to Elizabeth Harrin of A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, you get a “value engineering” approach to process improvement that takes customers to their ideal future state:

Lean is a way of reviewing processes to eliminate non-value adding activities.  Six Sigma reduces the variability in the process to provide a better quality outcome.  Used together…you arrive at a better quality result faster.  First you take out the non-value adding tasks…Then you use Six Sigma to improve the efficiency.  The end process is now faster, cheaper, better quality and with reduced risk.

Add Pro PM for Balance

PMP and senior managing consultant Ishai Perelman explains how doing less with a project is a good way to avoid doing less harm. He adds that there are many pitfalls to process improvement that are common to projects in general, including these:

  • The absence of a good team sponsor
  • An arbitrary goal to reduce employee headcount
  • Communicating with the wrong individuals
  • Focusing on analysis rather than change
  • Having a poor communications plan
  • Having a plan that relies on a single solution
  • Lacking a plan

Adding a professional project management approach into the blender with Six Sigma and Lean is one way to ensure that your improvements will make their mark. Professional project management gives you the benefit of the “doing” aspect of project management that is especially lacking in Six Sigma. Ishai says that Six Sigma is designed as more of a way to generate insights. Additionally, a PMO can bring standardization and formal governance to the task of process improvement.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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