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Does Six-Sigma Help in Improving Software Quality?

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 24 July 2012, 23:06 Hrs
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Bangalore: Quality Software is a much talked about terminology in software developing companies.  Developers work as hard as they can to ensure that their product is reliable and error free. Most of the companies are adopting the Six Sigma methodology to improve quality apart from reducing software defects. Motorola was the first company to adopt Six Sigma for software.

"Right now the culture is to test in quality. But we're asking our engineers to design in quality," said Tricia McNair, director of Motorola's Software Design for Six Sigma (SDFSS) program and chairman of the Software Development Consortium and Six Sigma Software Academy.

Six Sigma "can be used strategically to enable the implementation of what I call domain-specific improvement techniques. CMMI is an example," said Jeannine Siviy, Deputy Director for Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute.

Here are six steps to understand the connection of Six Sigma to Software Quality as mentioned in

Step 1- Learn About Six Sigma

With an aim to minimize the variations and deviations from the expected output, Six Sigma is a set of methodologies that can help improve processes and products.  

Step 2- Key Measurements Used in Six-Sigma

The key measurements used in Six Sigma are:

1.    CTQ (Critical to Quality)
2.    Mean
3.    SD (Standard Deviation)
4.    DPMO (Defect Per Million Opportunities)
5.    Cp. Cpk (Process Capability)

Step 3- Improvement Methodologies in Six-Sigma

The improvement methodologies in Six Sigma are the:

1.    DMAIC: This method is used to improve processes by reducing the variations and defects. It consists of five phases: Define the problem, Measure key aspects, Analyze data, Improve current process, Control future deviations.

2.    DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) is primarily used to design new products and processes. It also consist of 5 phases- Design goals, Measure and identify CTQs, Analyze alternatives, Design details and Verify the design.

3.    Six-Sigma improves process efficiency and speed by

a.    Ensuring Zero wait Time
b.    Line Balancing
c.    Zero Inventory
d.    Process Scheduling
e.    Reduce Investment
f.     Reduce Batch Sizes
g.    Reduce Process Cycle Time

Step 4: Applying Six-Sigma in Software Industries

The Software Development Company needs to identify which area in the project lack quality.  Once it has been identified, the organization can use the DMAIC methodology to improve processes by reducing the variations and defects. This will also help identify the problem factors and later, Six Sigma can be used to eliminate these factors.

Step 5: Role of Six-Sigma in Software Quality

Six Sigma helped in

1.    Speeding up the development and integration
2.    Improvising testing quality
3.    Improvement in software development
4.    Focusing on customers’ requirements
5.    Improvement in software process and
6.    Ensures high quality product delivery

Step 6: Learn about implementing Six-Sigma

Organizations can request help from professional bodies to train employees and QA on Six Sigma and to establish the necessary infrastructure to implement Six-sigma.

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