Can I Use Six Sigma to Run Efficient Software Projects?

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Six Sigma is a practice the modern business simply cannot do without. Employed in companies around the world, Six Sigma is transforming business projects for the better. But what types of project is Six Sigma useful for? Can Six Sigma be used for software projects? Software projects are not quite the same as product and process quality improvement projects. They require a bit more management to see great results.

Implementing Six Sigma in Software Projects

It isn’t always clear how to mesh Six Sigma with a software project, but it can be done. Six Sigma is useful in manufacturing project management because it involves quantitative and manual means of data discovery. This can also be applied to software projects, which often rely on both. As such, there are several tools to help your project team bring software projects in line with Six Sigma (and vice versa).

Remember, the gathering phase of any project is where a problem is defined using DMAIC. All data pertinent to the project concept will also be assembled here. This approach guarantees that the primary focus of the project is aimed at the deliverables (what can be accomplished; an outcome that is certain). A useful tool for this is project mapping, which allows you to outline and understand a project’s problem space.

Tools like project mapping and interviewing involve algebraic equations which software practitioners may be familiar with and find useful, as these tools make it easier for practitioners to discover data relationships. High rates of efficiency are among Six Sigma’s many benefits, but the same result can be achieved using data flow diagrams, entity relationship diagrams, object models, and more. These tools are useful in software projects as they display information that the software must manage, just as in Six Sigma factual data is highly important to success.

How to Avoid Obstacles

Software projects occupy a narrow area between art and computer science. Those working on software projects may not be experienced in the quantitative analysis necessary to Six Sigma. Processes like system, unit and integration testing, as well as code and design reviews, are necessary for software projects. Six Sigma can also be applied here to ensure each stage of the software development process runs smoothly and efficiently.

By introducing intervals of analysis, process tollgates, into every level of the project activity, you can zero in on issues affecting the software development. The concept, acquisition of resources, systems specification, software development and testing, rollout, and general maintenance can all be transposed into respective tollgates where each aspect of the project will be under scrutiny. Don’t forget, by implementing these practices early on; your software project will increase its chances of success tenfold!

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