Six Sigma in Software Development

Six Sigma makes inroads in software development organizations

“A lot of big companies are developing their own software engineering variance of Six Sigma training,” said Siviy, “putting software-specific examples into the normal Six Sigma curriculum.” However, she said, it’s early in the adoption curve. “In the software world there is a real lack of case studies that show applications of Six Sigma in software engineering,” she said. And those that use Six Sigma in software are often reluctant to share examples because they consider it a competitive advantage.

Still, Siviy said, “At a lot of software conferences now you see a sprinkling of presentations that somehow touch on Six Sigma or Lean, and the quality and depth of questions have evolved tremendously. In general, and not just in Six Sigma, as the [software] industry matures you see a wave of interest in measurement and analytical techniques.”

McKesson is a prime example. “Measurement is key,” Childers said. “What you can’t or don’t measure, you don’t know.”

A couple points. First, you can know what you don’t measure. Do you know your parents? Do you measure them? Manage what you can’t measure.

The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University has great materials. There is a danger in using those materials to become overly bureaucratic but the material was developed out of an excellent understanding of quality management (way back when that was the way this stuff was referred to). David Anderson provides some good insights, see: Stretching Agile to fit CMMI Level 3

Design of experiments is very suited to testing software: Planning Efficient Software TestsDesign Of Experiment For Software Testing.

six sigma does seem to foster a lack of sharing; which is a shame.

Related: six sigma articles and linkssix sigma postssoftware development postsdesign of experiments articles

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