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Process Improvement Essentials by James R. Persse PhD

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Chapter 7. Six Sigma

BRIAN NEELY IS CTO OF A MAJOR SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR BASED OUT OF THE WASHINGTON D.C. AREA. I was speaking to Brian recently about his own focus on process improvement and how he sees process contributing to the success of large companies. "At one level, it's about expanded potential," he said, referring to the use of process programs within various company subsidiaries, "but at the executive level, it is about performance, especially performance measures."

Brian's focus is on empirical process improvement, the ability for operating units to demonstrate efficiencies through data and to establish performance trends over time through the analysis of data. That's a somewhat typical viewpoint for CFOs. Companies use financial standings, projected revenues, and burn rates as reliable predictors of success. The story is in those numbers. But that's a relatively advanced viewpoint for CIOs and CTOs. However, it's becoming more and more common. And more and more popular. As the IT industry begins to increase its appreciation that process lies at the heart of any technology development effort, the interest in process performance should increase proportionately.

That brings us to the subject of Six Sigma.

In the previous two chapters, you got an overview of ISO 9001 and CMMI. You saw that these programs were geared toward helping an organization implement process programs, perhaps to refine a current process position or to create a program from the ground up. In essence, those ...

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