Key Difference between Project Management and Six Sigma

In today’s service-based environment, where everything and anything is a project, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (Six Sigma have many things in common. Both try and establish a robust project plan, create communication logistics, regular review of the project, manage schedule, cost, and resources.

Six Sigma is not just another Process Improvement Program:

Do not jump into conclusion that Six Sigma is just another project management initiative or process improvement program taken up by your organization. It is not just a new project management concept which has been repackaged with old concepts. Six Sigma has a lot more to do with continuous improvement via processes that include cultural and statistical methodologies. Though Six Sigma complements existing project management concepts but it differs in lots of ways. Both Six Sigma and typical project management methodology attempt to reduce defects, failures, control costs and risks, and manage schedules. Often we see the PMO promoting project management best practices in the organization by introducing policies, templates and advice and important project management tools and perform reviews on a project-by-project basis.

Six Sigma addresses Normal Project Management Shortcomings:

There are many instances where project management benefits have not been realized. It was not because they were not adding any value, but they were not able to measure the effectiveness of the methodology or evaluate the value added by changes made to the processes. It is here where Six Sigma offers a unique perspective. By providing a structured data-driven methodology with tools and techniques, companies can easily measure changes both before and after Six Sigma projects. Using Six Sigma in your projects, you can easily determine the baseline performance of processes and also find out the root causes of problems so that they can improve them and exceed the performance levels.

In Six Sigma there are no Half Measures:

Six Sigma methodology helps project managers to take their projects to new levels in discipline and commitment. Whereas in standard / traditional project management, one can do away with ad-hoc implementation. But, in Six Sigma there are no half measures, where you cannot implement in bits and pieces. Either you are completely in or not, or you are in it for long haul and not looking at short term benefits. Again this full-fledged approach is a good thing for your organization as the level of commitment gets everyone involved and results in substantial change in your processes.

Six Sigma provides Robust Tools and Techniques:

Project managers face lot of challenges while gathering data and analyzing, problem solving, evaluating and understanding processes and tracking measurements and realizing benefits. Six Sigma methodology provides all the tools and techniques that are necessary for a project manager to overcome the challenges stated above. It does not replace organization’s existing methodologies but acts as a complementary methodology that replaces existing ways of determining, resolving and analyzing problems, as well as achieving customer and business requirements in an objective manner.

Six Sigma overcomes Operational Management Inefficiencies:

Six Sigma can also be applied to operational management inefficiencies and can directly support strategic management development and its implementation. Six Sigma’s tools and techniques are much more broadly applicable than which are commonly applied with project management. Moreover, Six Sigma and its tools is directed more towards finding the root cause of the problems and prevent them from recurrence than attempting to do a damage control on each and every project.

Data Collection is Crucial to Everything in Six Sigma:

Six Sigma also differs from typical project management with regards to precision in handling business critical processes in an organization. This robust methodology gives you a well-defined project charter which outlines the scope, benefits and milestones in a project. Moreover, all the decisions taken will be based on proper data collection which will help in improved savings. In normal project management, an enterprise enters into it without properly knowing what will be the financial gains. But, Six Sigma has a crucial control phase (DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) which helps in measuring, identifying problems, providing specific solutions for each and every problem.
Six Sigma has made its foray into organizational culture around the world and business critical projects are seeing immense benefits out of it. Six Sigma also includes other important methodologies in Total Quality Management (TQM), Statistical Process Control (SPC), Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify (DMADV) and more. Six Sigma offers a holistic approach towards managing a project and brings a significant change in the organizational culture which brings a long lasting change.

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Lucy Brown has many years of experience in the project management domain and has helped many organizations across the Asia Pacific region. Her excellent coordinating capabilities, both inside and outside the organization, ensures that all projects are completed on time, adhering to clients' requirements. She possesses extensive expertise in developing project scope, objectives, and coordinating efforts with other teams in completing a project. As a project management practitioner, she also possesses domain proficiency in Project Management best practices in PMP and Change Management. Lucy is involved in creating a robust project plan and keep tabs on the project throughout its lifecycle. She provides unmatched value and customized services to clients and has helped them to achieve tremendous ROI.

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