How Does Six Sigma Relate to Project Management?

project management

Six Sigma is an effective methodology that helps organizations improve processes using a data-driven approach. When an organization launches a product, it uses a variety of processes to make it a success. This is where Six Sigma comes in to help the project management team make their processes more efficient. That way, they can complete the project on time and within budget.

Any organization that consistently finishes its projects remains competitive. Customers are also more satisfied, which not only ensures its survival but also leads to an increased bottom line. All this shows that Six Sigma is an invaluable tool for project managers.

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The Right Time to Use Six Sigma in a Project

During a project, management can identify opportunities to use Six Sigma and get better results. Here are a few scenarios that bring up the need for Six Sigma during project management:

Waste Elimination

Waste is any step that doesn’t add value to a process. By eliminating waste, organizations can streamline processes, making them easier to complete and less prone to error. A tool used for this in Six Sigma is a process map. This is a diagram that outlines all steps in a process. It helps the team identify steps that add unnecessary complexity.

Find the Root Cause of a Problem

Because of root cause analysis (RCA), Six Sigma is an effective problem-solving tool. And once the team identifies the root cause, they can work towards eliminating it for good. Six Sigma’s RCA tools include the Pareto Chart, 5 Whys, Fishbone Diagram, and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

Reducing Defects and Variation

A defect is an imperfection and variation is a result the customer didn’t expect, and both result from a failure within the process. A popular methodology for reducing both is known as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). 

Through DMAIC the team uses a five-phase approach to solve a problem that is leading to defects and variation. DMAIC is a data-driven approach that heavily borrows from the scientific method. When the phases of the methodology have been implemented properly, it has been shown to lead to:

  • Informed decision-making: This is because the team is guided by insights gained through data analysis. They don’t rely on gut intuition or guesses.
  • Better communication and collaboration: All team members are professionals united to solve a problem through a well-defined, data-driven, and structured approach.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Products and services have significantly fewer defects and variations. This translates to a better customer experience, which increases customer satisfaction levels.
  • Reduced costs: Processes that are running efficiently use fewer resources. This means that project managers can cut costs and maximize profits.
  • Increased productivity: Thanks to RCA, once a problem is fixed, it will never surface again. This means the project team won’t waste time trying to handle the same problems. That way, their sole focus will be on moving the project along.


Six Sigma is essentially a project management tool. Project managers can use it to maximize return on investment when overseeing a project. If organizations want to improve their outcomes, whether it is profits, growth, or competitiveness, they should consider adding Six Sigma to their project management arsenal.

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