How PM and Six Sigma Complement each other

I responded recently to a question that was posed about professional certifications. The questioner asked which one would be best to pursue given his job responsibilities, the Project Management Professional (PMP) or the Six Sigma Black Belt. My response was that he should consider both, and my arguments were as follows.

Six Sigma is, fundamentally, a problem solving process. It is a structured methodology for defining a problem that is important to customers, measuring the extent of the problem and gathering data about potential causes of the problem, analyzing the data to find the root cause, selecting and implementing a solution that solves the problem, and putting controls in place to make sure that the problem stays fixed. All organizations have processes that deliver products or services, and all organizations can benefit from delivering these products and services with higher quality, lower cost and on a more timely basis.

Project Management is “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”, according to the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Third Edition (PMBOK Guide). This guide is a survey of best practices that are used by project managers to initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control, and close projects.

From the perspective of a Six Sigma practitioner, Six Sigma is implemented by selecting and successfully completing projects that improve business processes that are consistently not meeting customer expectations under normal circumstances. Six Sigma uses facts and data to implement a solution that fixes the root cause of the problem after it has been identified. A Six Sigma Black Belt will certainly be more effective if he or she is skilled and experienced in project management.

From the perspective of a project manager, projects are typically selected to solve problems with the delivery of current products and services. A project manager will be more successful if he or she is skilled in using Six Sigma to define problems and permanently solve them using facts and data. Additionally, the PMBOK Guide is organized around a number of processes that are used by the project manager to initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control, and close projects. Each of these project management processes can be improved by applying Six Sig

A special case exists when the project manager is faced with the task of developing a brand new business process or a brand new product. In this case, project management should be paired with Design for Six Sigma (DFSS). DFSS is a structured methodology to define goals and customer requirements, measure customer needs and expectations, analyze design options to met the needs, design the product or process to meet customer needs, and verify the performance of the process or product to meet the customer needs.

The bottom line is that you will be much more successful in making a difference in your professional endeavors if you are both a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Six Sigma certified.

Key Performance offers a wide array of training programs in both Project Management and Six Sigma. We are fully prepared to train and certify you with the right blend of Project Management and Six Sigma to help you develop into a powerhouse problem solver and project leader.

About the author: Mr. Roger C. Ellis is a consultant, trainer and educator with over 40 years of plant, divisional, corporate level and self-employed consulting accomplishment in manufacturing, industrial engineering and business management. He is an expert in the implementation of lean enterprise, project management, Six Sigma, business process analysis and improvement, strategic planning, performance measurement, design for assembly and manufacturing, workplace design and productivity improvement, leading and managing work teams, benchmarking and competitive analysis, operations management, production and inventory control, and instructional design and course development. He designs, develops and instructs Six Sigma certification programs for Key Performance LLC.