Six Sigma in software development

Six sigma methodologies help in achieving operational excellence in most of the transaction oriented business enviroments. However they are not as effective as the hype created in developing a new product and in building software.

Here is my posting in response to a query on “6S_SWSE · 6Sigma - Software & Systems Engineering” group on yahoo groups, about the effectiveness of Six Sigma methodologies in creating a new software product.

“Six Sigma processes like DMAIC can be used to achieve operational excellence; reduce waste, improve the existing process etc. If your organization is a traditional software services company or a BPO or pure transaction oriented, DMAIC would be of great benefit to the bottom line. All the projects that I could see and the initial literature on Six Sigma and Software development aimed at improving the organization’s software development process. Code review improvement, test coverage, effective testing etc. I would love to see some literature or projects which directly aimed at developing a new product in software development.

Let me put my inclination not to believe or failed to understand that six sigma as it is now would be of any benefit to design & develop a new software product in to the right context. As every one knows, Motorola stood out along with other majors like GE, Honeywell etc., to demonstrate ROI with six sigma. Being mybackground in Telecom, I am not aware of any better-in-the-stands application or cell phone from Motorola. Motorola was once on top in market share in producing cell phones. They have used Six sigma every where literally. Who can better vouch for it better than Motorola about the areas of application. May be it had a better ROI in quality of cell phones and operations. But it lost its market leadership, and it is now fighting to get back a decent 13% share in the market. Read the recent story in Business2.0 magazine about its fight back. Their focus has moved away from operational excellence, that six sigma brought them, and trying to design a better product. Razr and other new models from motorola that are helping in the fightback were completely conceived and produced under the new head and new facilities. They might have been manufactured in a six sigma manufacturing plant, but the design and development of the phone is not [as per the recent interview and magazine articles]. If I read between lines, it tells a different story about effectiveness of six sigma in developing a new product. Be it ROI or market share or a better product, I have not seen any convincing example of six sigma in NEW software PRODUCT development as such. I would love to see any example or literature in that area”

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