Agile and Six Sigma - Can It Be A Fruitful Blend?

The world is changing at a rapid pace and the demands of the people are increasing accordingly. In today's world, people prefer to have their desired products in a quick time, saying that they are not willing to compromise on the quality of the product. They need quality products in quick succession, and to keep up with the changing trends manufacturers and service providers are also shifting their gears to keep up to the pace of demand and supply. To match the tempo, manufacturers and service providers are employing new strategies to attract new customers and retaining the existing ones. According to the market experts, the demand of the market is agility, and the companies who have the traits of adapting to the new trends will have an edge over their competitors. To cope with the competition, companies are making use of Agile strategies that have been developed to help companies to withstand competition. This methodology includes principles, tools, and concepts which companies can make use of.

The Agile strategy was developed by many practitioners and thinkers who pitched in their ideas which they got from their experience, and also referring to a wide range of reports and analyses. If we look at Six Sigma tools and methods, it concentrates on product creation that is cost-effective, matching quality standards, and ensuring that these products are delivered to market faster in comparison to their competitors. It is observed that organizations that have implemented Six Sigma methods have been able to spot mistakes in the production process in the early stages and fixed them. Six Sigma gives that added advantage to the companies which they require to stay in the competition. As the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer this agile methodology is now amalgamated with Six Sigma methodologies, which altogether is a new breed.

The combination of Agile and Six Sigma methods fetches desired results that an organization looks for. If we look at the functionalities, both Agile and Six Sigma concentrate mainly on bringing down the waste to zero level or minimal level. They have the same functionalities but their fraternities differ. Agile comes with an information technology background where has Six Sigma has been specifically designed for manufacturing sectors. Agile looks at the discrepancies that arise in the complex software development processes that will lead to wastage of resources.

Since the functionality is the same, it has sparked a new fusion that supports the inclusion of Six Sigma methodologies in an Agile environment. If we look at the Agile software methodologies, it hints towards an adaptive process that makes way for the creation of a process framework. This framework acts as a guiding light for the software development team in building software by making use of a process that adapts according to the domain of the project. This methodology opens gates for new possibilities for using relevant tools such as Six Sigma, which helps in improving the quality of the end product. On the other hand, it’s also possible that Agile methodologies that were designed for the software development process can also be included in Six Sigma.

If we focus on the methodologies employed by Agile, it makes use of the iterative and incremental approaches. This approach has given the desired results for the organizations, as there will be a close rapport with the customers at regular intervals during product development, which helps organizations to understand their customer’s requirements in a better manner. Simultaneously, one of the prime focuses of Six Sigma is to link up business goals with customer requirements. And to do this, Six Sigma relies on DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) phases, that has been the backbone of Six Sigma architecture. DMAIC concentrates on consumer expectations and provides valuable tools to address them. Thus above referred is one of the best indications that Six Sigma tools can be fused in with the Agile process. We can expect some more fusions in the near future, which would be beneficial for the organizations that implement these procedures.

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Melissa James