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How Six Sigma Certification Programs Can Make You a Better Project Manager

    

Improving project manager skills through six sigma

Every organization has projects that need to be designed, planned, and executed—and if you’ve ever had to oversee a project from conception to completion, then you have some idea of what goes into project management.

In fact, if you understand what it takes to initiate and complete a project, including monitoring the results, you have a project manager's basic skill set. All you need now is certification as a project management professional (PMP) as well as Six Sigma professional to become a successful project manager.

Project management is a rewarding career that requires training to understand cost management, communication, quality management, resource and staff management and serving as a liaison between management and the technical team. To prepare project managers for the PMP certification, career training programs cover the five main process groups of:

  1. Initiating the project.
  2. Planning the project.
  3. Executing the project.
  4. Monitoring and controlling the project.
  5. Closing the project.

The project manager is responsible for shepherding every aspect of an IT initiative, including setting deadlines, complying to standards, and managing the budget, and the role comes with many different titles, such as:

  • IT project manager
  • Management analyst
  • Quality control analyst
  • Software QA engineer

And it’s a well-paying profession. According to Salary.com the average salary for a project management manager is $134,182 per year—and that salary increases with PMP and Six Sigma certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), which administers the certification exams.

Explore what certification is best for you with an education advisor >>

The Value of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma was created as a project management approach to continually improving the quality of processes. It embraces a philosophy of excellence and efficiency and measures process performance. The goal of Six Sigma is to reduce defects and process inefficiencies in order to save time and money, improve quality, and increase customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma improves performance and quality by removing variance or defects. Sigma is the representation of standard deviation, which is a measure of the variation in a data set measuring a process or defects. If a process or specification has a defined limit that defines good and bad outcomes, then a Six Sigma process is the process mean or average that is six standard deviations from either the good or bad limits.

Although Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma have the same goal—to eliminate waste and champion efficiency—they take different approaches to identifying defects and waste. Whereas Six Sigma focuses on eliminating errors that arise out of process variation, Lean Six Sigma focuses on process improvement by eliminating waste that doesn’t add value to the final product or service.

Six Sigma embraces a methodology that can be applied to virtually any process to improve productivity and minimize waste called DMAIC:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

Similarly, Lean Six Sigma has specific methodologies to eliminate waste because of poor processes, insufficient or incorrect information, miscommunications, low-grade craftsmanship, overproduction, inefficient use of time, excess inventory, and other causes.

Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma certifications not only show employers that you’re skilled at identifying and removing risks, errors, and defects in business processes, but also offers proof of your analytical skills and commitment to improving business processes. And employers know that they can see immediate benefits from implementing Lean Six Sigma, such as a reduction in errors and increase in production.

The levels of Six Sigma certification are denoted by belt color (e.g., white, yellow, green, black, master black), but unlike some IT certifications, there is no certification ladder requiring you receive a Green Belt before pursuing a Black Belt.

Fortune 500 Companies Value Six Sigma

A number of well-respected, industry leading organizations implement Six Sigma techniques. This means there’s an increasing demand for workers with Six Sigma certifications. Here are just a few examples of companies implementing Six Sigma:

  • Arrow Electronics has won awards for its Six Sigma programs to remove waste and increase efficiency in warehousing and shipping.
  • Bechtel is using Six Sigma processes in all of its operations, including mining, oil and gas, and infrastructure.
  • Boeing applies Six Sigma processes as part of its aircraft manufacturing.
  • Ford Motor Company trains its employees in Six Sigma for auto manufacturing to reduce costs, improve quality, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing processes.
  • Starwood Hotel & Resorts was the first hospitality business in the world to adopt Six Sigma in order to promote consistency and reduce waste throughout its hotel chains.

These are just a few of the organizations that are benefiting from implementing Six Sigma, but this approach can be applied to virtually any industry or process. In information technology, for example, Lean Six Sigma is often used to improve manufacturing, systems integration, and development processes. Six Sigma is well-suited for IT because its DMAIC approach can be used for systems integration, web application development, software development, and other IT processes.

Getting Your Lean Six Sigma Certification

Before you can be Lean Six Sigma certified, you need the right training. New Horizons Career Development Solutions offers project manager career training programs that include Lean Six Sigma instruction. Our career training programs are aligned with the belt-level certifications issued by PMI, which administers the Six Sigma certification exams.

Career training is a great place to start, but you’ll also want hands-on experience to help you pass the certification exam. For example, a typical Green Belt-certified professional may work part-time as a project manager or team member. As a Black Belt, you'll likely have mastered the principles of Lean Six Sigma and should be prepared to train your own Six Sigma teams.

If you’re interested in becoming a project manager and learning more about Six Sigma, a good place to start is by viewing our free webinar on White Belt certification. This will give you a good overview of project management and PMI certification. You also can speak with one of our career advisers to learn more about our project management career training program and additional certifications and available career options.

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