Lean Six Sigma in the IT Sector

Article / Supply Chain and Quality

Lean Six Sigma in the IT Sector
Rajneesh Kumar , Business Consultant, India

This article is being published with the intention of endorsing the various vistas of Lean Six Sigma implementation, particularly when it is implemented in the IT sector. We do believe that IT professionals of all ranks & files would acknowledge the great value Lean Six Sigma brings to their organisation, if it has been implemented with sincere undertaking. Thanks!

Information technology (IT) organizations increasingly are under pressure to improve their service and process capability. In the quest for improvement methodologies, organizations often adopt a "pick one" strategy - with Six Sigma being the widely favored choice. However, it is possible to integrate Lean and Six Sigma and reap the full benefits that these methodologies can bring to the table.

Defined as a measure of quality that strives for near perfection, Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving towards six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process -- from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Despite its origin in manufacturing, Six Sigma, when implemented in IT, isn't about widgets; the focus is still on processes. When applied to IT operations, Six Sigma aims to measure and improve both internal processes, such as network speed and reliability, and line-of-business processes in which IT has a role, such as how well an online ordering system is working or how well your customer support system is performing actually.

Many big companies, including Honeywell and Textron, have their own internal 'brands' of Six Sigma that have been tailored to their line of business and oftentimes combined with Lean, another manufacturing technique designed to weed out non-value-adding sub-processes. Other organizations fine-tune the DMAIC model as needed. Chase Financial, for example, added a step called 'implement'.

Based in Bangalore, India, Wipro is one of the largest IT services and product engineering companies in the world. It has more than 100,000+ employees and 70+ delivery centers in 55+ countries. In fact, Wipro, an Indian IT giant, successfully decoded the Lean practices, implemented and then, perfected lean practices for their Global IT Consulting services.

Lean/Six Sigma implementation offers your IT process the following benefits:

  1. Improve efficiency and effectiveness of the business and IT processes

  2. Reduce overall operating costs

  3. Improve customer experience

  4. Deliver quicker results with business value

  5. Improve workforce productivity

  6. Improve quality of performance of products and services

  7. Enabled service capability and stability with operational efficiency and control

The bottom-line here is that Lean & Six Sigma can successfully used in IT projects, Automated IT processes, ERP decisions/implementation, Data Warehousing, Software Designing, UI designing, customer support operations in all sort of IT companies, BPOs, KPOs, etc.

The Lean Six Sigma approach gets a thumbs-up by most CIOs. However, you need to know that --Six Sigma is a system of tools. There's no prescribed set. You have to determine yourself-- what you want to bring to your workforce before you choose your tools.

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