Q: We are considering using Six Sigma in my organization. Can someone who has experience with it provide some lessons learned?
A: At J.P. Morgan Chase, Six Sigma is the business process reengineering (BPR) methodology. The company has adopted the methodology, trained people on it and certified them as experts. The rigor of Six Sigma has given us a great framework for creating clear deliverables and for measuring process improvements. Some lessons learned:
1. Make sure you have management commitment. You cannot take a serious BPR approach to automation projects without it.
2. Pay attention to the relationship between your Six Sigma BPR and the software development lifecycle you have in place. Make sure the touch points between the BPR and the architecture efforts are clear and that deliverables are aligned and clearly defined. The project’s governance body should have representation from the business, Six Sigma, operations and technology.
3. Six Sigma provides a rigorous set of tools for defining goals and measuring baseline and improvements. It also includes a “voice of client” element used to understand clients’ perceptions of existing processes and how they should be improved. The business community needs to understand how well the project is tracking to its goals, which are aimed at solving issues that clients consider most important.
4. Be flexible and work in iterations. Any major project takes time, in large measure because the business environment continues to change while analysis and implementation efforts are under way. Be ready to iterate, and continually refine your reengineered processes and their automation. (Read tips from Seagate Technology CIO Mark Brewer in “Six Sigma Comes to IT,” online atwww.cio.com/printlinks.)
-Joseph Dafni, VP, chief business technologist (in GCRM technology), J.P. Morgan Chase