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6.2 Joint Implementation Strategies

From the published information available and our research, we have abstracted the following strategies for using these initiatives together. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather reflective of patterns we have observed, overlaid with what our experience tells us works well. These strategies, which range from coordinated to fully integrated implementations, are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in some organizations, all of them have been leveraged. These strategies do not presume that the CMMI precedes Six Sigma adoption or vice versa.

Chapter 7 continues the discussion by describing dimensions of design connectivity between the CMMI and Six Sigma that can (and should) be leveraged to execute these strategies. Understanding these relationships enables the successful execution of the chosen strategies.

  • Strategy 1: Implement CMMI-based processes (or, more simply put, CMMI process areas) as Six Sigma projects.

    This strategy establishes the objective(s) of the Six Sigma project team as implementing a process area or a group of process areas. The team is responsible for defining the problem or opportunity that would be addressed by the new process(es) and for using data and analytical methods to inform the design, redesign, and performance improvement and thereby achieve the organizational mission and model compliance. Depending on whether the process area implementation involves updating existing processes or defining new processes, DMAIC, DFSS, or Lean might be appropriate.

  • Strategy 2: Apply Six Sigma to improve process performance and serve as the tactical engine to achieve high capability and/or high maturity.

    There is natural synergy between the high-maturity process areas and the tenets of Six Sigma's DMAIC framework. As such, the tactics of Six Sigma can be used to directly enrich the defined processes that correspond to the high-maturity process areas.

    In one aspect of this strategy, Six Sigma steps can enrich the process design, in conjunction with the specific practices of the high-maturity process areas. For instance, the processes to which Quantitative Project Management (QPM) and Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR) map would obviously reflect the specific practices of both process areas. They could also reflect the steps and tools of DMAIC and/or Lean.

    In another aspect of this strategy, the DMAIC steps and toolkit can be used to actually achieve high performance, via Six Sigma projects and high-maturity process execution. Similarly, the steps and tools of DMAIC and Lean support the implementation and execution of the generic practices associated with high capability—those that mature a process to be quantitatively managed and then optimized.

    Specific design connections between DMAIC and groupings of process areas will be further discussed in Chapter 7 and in the example on product quality improvement in Section 9.1.

  • Strategy 3: Apply Six Sigma, specifically DFSS, as a tactical contributor to achieve highly capable engineering processes.

    A variation on the previous strategy is to use Six Sigma as a tactical engine underlying the Engineering process areas, alongside architecture and engineering technologies such as ATAM. In this instance, tenets of DFSS would be used to enrich the engineering process. This could be coupled with the usage of DMAIC and the generic practices to institutionalize, optimize, and achieve high capability in those processes.

  • Strategy 4: Apply Six Sigma to improve or optimize an organization's improvement strategy and processes.

    Six Sigma can be used in making decisions about the adoption of improvement initiatives and in the management and overhead associated with adoption. Possible ways to apply Six Sigma in this manner include the following:

    1. Appraisal process streamlining and cost reduction
    2. Identification of highest-priority organizational problems, which informs decisions about improvement project selection and portfolio management
    3. Optimization of the CMMI and overall improvement program execution

    DMAIC and Lean seem particularly well suited to these approaches. If a process redesign is warranted, DFSS might be leveraged. Combining with the previous strategies, an organization might use the Define, Measure, and Analyze steps of DMAIC to define an improvement project portfolio that serves the organization's mission. Using the CMMI for guidance and possibly as governance for specific improvements, the organization could then employ DMAIC, Lean, or DFSS for each respective improvement effort and propel itself toward control and optimization one project at a time. A focus on mission and performance ultimately results in compliance to the model.

  • Strategy 5: Institutionalize Six Sigma project results, and culture, via the CMMI's institutionalization practices.

    While the Six Sigma deployment approach (sponsorship, training, belt certification, and so forth) ensures that it is pervasively used in an organization, it does not have formal, codified mechanisms to leverage and disseminate the learnings of individual projects. Many Six Sigma organizations rely on their informal networks of Belts, internal community of practice conferences, and sometimes intranet-based data-sharing systems.

    In CMMI organizations, however, the generic practices and such things as the organization's asset library provide ready-made institutionalization mechanisms for Six Sigma project results [Bergey et al. 04; Andelfinger et al. 06; Kirwan et al. 06]. Usage of these mechanisms typically becomes a de facto strategy for those pursuing joint implementation of the CMMI and Six Sigma. It enables an organization to maximize the value of every Six Sigma project.

  • Strategy 6: Develop an internal process standard that maps to or integrates the CMMI, Six Sigma, and all other improvement initiatives of choice. This standard defines the process by which every project is to be executed, across its entire lifecycle.

    While the previous approaches are tactical, very oriented toward the use of Six Sigma projects and very oriented toward supporting a CMMI deployment, this strategy is longer term and more visionary. It embodies the idea that an organization should take control of its destiny and manage its initiatives rather than be managed by them. In this strategy, the focus is on embedding Six Sigma alongside other initiatives in the organizational business and engineering processes. It builds Six Sigma thinking into the fabric of the organization, supporting culture change and, in a way, becoming the ultimate enabler of Six Sigma. It also builds every other initiative of choice into the organizational DNA.

    Many people describe this idea in different ways. It has been called, among other things, integrated process architecture, interoperable process architecture, and internal integrated standard process. Lockheed Martin IS&S labels its approach the Program Process Standard [Penn and Siviy 03]. Regardless of the label, the idea remains the same: The organization establishes a set of standard processes that incorporate all the features of the initiatives of choice. This idea assumes that the process is adaptable with time (i.e., capable of iterative refinement) and instrumented and robust to the realities of the organization (e.g., the types of work done and the degree of organizational acquisition). This approach can be executed at any maturity level, with any maturity level as the end goal. When possible, it's best to start while at low maturity.

    In addition to Lockheed Martin IS&S, whose mapped Program Process Standard has been presented at a high level at conferences, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems (formerly TRW), Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services, JPMorgan Chase, EDS, and others have also presented their enterprise strategies, showing how they jointly leveraged the CMMI, Six Sigma, and other initiatives. (See References and Additional Resources near the end of this book for pointers to some of these presentations.)

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