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Project Management

Seamless Project Management with Lean Six Sigma

In 2017, Global Project Management Survey Pulse reported that 12% of global organizations were categorized as under-performers. The list included organizations from a variety of industries, from the government to information technology to financial firms.

The survey summarized project management. It showed how 60% of the organization’s projects were successfully delivered in time and within budget. And, for the rest of the projects, a common trait was found — lack of defined and achievable milestones and objectives to measure progress 

The primary objective of any project manager is to increase productivity. For which they need to be aware of the vast array of tools, techniques and methodologies that can influence best practices for project deliveries.

Even though PMI has indicated a positive upward trend in project deliveries with modern tech and techniques, there’s still a growth gap that can be filled by implementing Lean Six Sigma into business processes.

Across the framework, the idea is to follow a repeatable process aimed at creating successful outcome and to better understand how integration is possible.

What is project management?

According to PMI, project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to activities to meet the project requirements.

From beginning to end, every project needs a plan that outlines how things will kick off the ground, how they will be built, and how they will be finished.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is a method that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation.

It drives customer satisfaction and results by reducing variability, waste, and cycle time while promoting work standardization and flow.

When utilizing Lean Six Sigma, the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) methodology is commonly used to execute projects.

DMAIC Improvement Process

DMAIC model refers to making continuous improvements to an existing process through problem-solving processes. The methodology is aimed at improving the quality of products/services.

The five phases of DMAIC:

1) Define – In this phase, project teams plot a high-level process map to clarify customer’s needs.

Tools used:

  • Project charter
  • Tree diagram
  • Value stream map
  • Relationship map
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • VOC (Voice of Customer)

2) Measure – This stage is all about the data collection plan. In this process, you create and execute data that indicates how the process is performing, helping deliver variance.

Tools used:

  • Project charter
  • Data collection plan
  • Operational definitions
  • Check sheet

3) Analyze – At this stage, teams can quantify the financial benefits of solving the problem.

Tools used:

4) Improve – This stage focuses on the team’s creativity aimed towards finding an answer to the process problem.

Tools used:

  • Value stream map
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Benchmarking
  • Weighted criteria matrix
  • Impact/Effort matrix
  • Pilot checklist
  • Implementation plan

5) Control – This phase lets the team report the new solution that they have created to pass it on to process owners.

Tools used:

  • Control plan (or a control chart)
  • Monitoring and response plan
  • Innovation transfer opportunities
  • Gallery walks
  • Documentation

Lean Six Sigma Integration in Projects

The Six Sigma methodology — DMAIC offers a structured approach and a disciplined process for solving business problems. It identifies the root causes of defects in the business process, allowing consistent quality throughout the project lifecycle. Lean Six Sigma work is typically done via cross-functional teams. However, the methodology doesn’t address the management of the project directly.

There is a collection of Lean Six Sigma methodologies that are used throughout the project management process. Work breakdown analysis, schedule development, risk analysis, scope definition, status reporting and cost budgeting are common processes that project managers use to plan, execute, control and close projects.

Throughout the project lifecycle, these methodologies allow managers to make sound and informed decisions to move fluently from phase to phase. The tools of project management and Six Sigma can be placed in the lifecycle to plan, act, do and check for a process improvement project. Furthermore, the techniques and methodologies can be blended to enhance the process.

Benefits of using Lean in Projects

Decision Making
Every Six Sigma approach has a data-based evidence approach to every defect/error. This approach is comparatively more accurate than any other methodology.

Time Savings
A Lean Six Sigma expert’s advice at the beginning of any project defines the scope and deliverables clearly along with effective utilization of resources.

Cost Savings
As the primary focus of Lean Six Sigma is to reduce errors and defects, cost savings is the direct derivative of the methodology’s implementation.

Increase in Productivity
As every team member is bound to the Lean Six Sigma methodologies, the productivity doubles, thus allowing an ample amount of resource for other modules.


Lean Six Sigma methodology can be integrated with the project management processes to gain a more detailed understanding of the overall process. For organizations using only project management, Lean Six Sigma enhances the ability to make decisions with the help of evidence-based data and factors that are critical to quality and end-users.

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