Process Improvement: Moving Forward
with CMMI® and Lean Six Sigma
Business Transformation Institute, Inc.
What is Six Sigma?
• In the words of noted Six Sigma expert R. Snee, Six
– ―A business improvement approach that seeks to find and
eliminate causes of mistakes or defects in business processes by
focusing on outputs that are of critical importance to customer.‖
• Six Sigma tools and techniques aim at reducing and
controlling variability in how an organization creates
and delivers products and services.
• ―Six sigma‖ [6σ] itself is a statistics term that refers to a
product or service that experiences only 3.4 defects in
1,000,000 delivered product or service opportunities.
What is Lean?
• Lean is about delivering value to the customer.
• Value is anything for which a customer is willing to pay.
• Anything that produces a product or service that a
customer is not willing to pay for must be eliminated
from the organization’s practices.
– Exceptions are made for activities that improve safety and
security in an organization, although these activities may not be
• Lean tools and techniques:
– Identify activities that are non-value-added for elimination.
– Make value-added activities more efficient and productive.
• Lean emphasizes increasing the value that a customer
receives from a product or service while eliminating
What is Lean Six Sigma?
• Lean Six Sigma is the combination of Six Sigma
technique and Lean thinking to:
– Help an organization perform in a consistent,
predictable manner and
– Deliver near perfect products and services that a
customer is wiling to pay for.
• Note: the American Society of Quality defines ―Lean‖ as part of the
Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. The term ―Six Sigma‖ as used
typically includes ―Lean‖.
Key Aspects of Lean Six Sigma
• Lean Six Sigma is about bottom line results,
with a focus on customers!
– Six Sigma results are measurable in terms of direct improvement
in the mission or business.
– Improvements must add value from the customer’s perspective.
• Lean Six Sigma requires senior management
– If management is aligned with producing value for the
customer, then improvement becomes a priority.
• Lean Six Sigma projects must produce a return on
investment in a short time, typically 3-6 months.
• Lean Six Sigma relies on a statistically valid approach.
Features Not Found in Lean Six Sigma
• Lean Six Sigma is not specific to a knowledge domain.
– There is no guidance on best practices in any field, including
systems and software engineering.
• Lean Six Sigma does not provide benchmarks.
– Lean Six Sigma results are not comparable between
– Lean Six Sigma improvement measures are expressed as
improvement to the bottom line (mission or business)—they are
often expressed in terms of money (e.g., reduced costs, increased
• Lean Six Sigma is not regulated by any authority,
although the American Society of Quality provides the
leading venue for certification of personnel.
Typical Lean Six Sigma Roles
• Executive Sponsor: provides the
organization-level drive for improvement.
• Sponsor or Champion: owns the process being
improved and provides support for improving
• Black Belt: an experienced expert in Lean Six
Sigma tools who leads improvement projects.
• Green Belt: a member of the improvement team
who has been trained in Lean Six Sigma
techniques; often someone who is part of the
process being improved.
Lean Six Sigma’s Process Improvement
• Define: Determine which system is to be
improved—develop a measurable goal
for the improvement.
• Measure: Measure the system.
• Analyze: Identify the root causes of defects,
defectives, improvement opportunities, waste
activities, or significant measurement deviations.
• Improve: Reduce variability or eliminate the root
cause; eliminate waste.
• Control: Once the desired improvements are in
place, monitor the process to sustain the
Key Lean Six Sigma Techniques
• Lean Six Sigma encompasses many tools—too
many to talk about here!
– ASQ’s Black Belt training to understand and begin
using the tools is 4 weeks.
– A great reference for the tools is the Certified Six
Sigma Black Belt Primer, published by the Quality
Council of Indiana—www.qualitycouncil.com.
• Following are some key Lean Six Sigma ideas.
Guiding Lean Principles
• Specify value by product or service.
• Identify the value stream for each product or
service (value chain).
• Make value flow.
• Let the customer pull value for the producer.
• Pursue perfection!
Typical Lean Tools
• Visual Factory
• 5S (sort, straighten, scrub, systematize,
• Muda (the seven wastes)
• Kanban (pull systems)
• Poka-Yoke (mistake proofing)
• Standard work
• Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)
Example Lean Tool: Non-Value-Added Activities
• Theses are widely identified Non-Value-Added
[Muda = Waste] activities:
Example Lean Tool: The Kaizen Event
• Kaizen = Japanese concept of continuous
• Most Kaizen activities occur over the long term
and involve many people.
• The Kaizen Event (or blitz) uses a cross-
functional team to implement change in 3 to 5
• Kaizen Events have the following basic format:
– Train the team in lean thinking techniques (2 days)
– Collect data and make changes (2.5 days)
– Present the results to the workforce (0.5 days)
Typical Six Sigma Tools
Rolled Throughput Yield
Define Voice of the Customer
Critical to Quality Tree
Cause & Effect/Prioritization Matrix
Ishikawa (Fishbone) Diagram
Measure Statistical Inference Tools
Measurement System Analysis
Process Capability Studies/Process Indices
Typical Six Sigma Tools (continued)
Analyze Parametric and Non-Parametric Hypothesis Tests
Design of Experiments
Improve Response Surface Methodology
Control Pre-Control Charts
CMMI and Lean Six Sigma Are Complementary
• CMMI provides a list of best practices for systems and
software engineering, acquisition, and integrated
product and process development.
• CMMI provides a measurement scale to benchmark
organizations against each other.
• CMMI defines the requirements of measurement and
statistical process control; Lean Six Sigma provides the
tools to implement them.
• Lean Six Sigma provides a set of tools applicable to
performing each process improvement activity.
• Lean Six Sigma provides a strong mission/business
orientation to process improvement.
Feature CMMI Lean Six
National Governing Yes: SEI No
Primary application Systems and software Any
domain? engineering development
Allows benchmark Yes No
Emphasis on Limited, only if CMMI practices Yes
customer value- are explicitly traced to mission
added goals and gaps
Emphasis on Yes, but on measurement Yes
measurement? requirements, not the techniques
Used nationally and Yes Yes
Feature-by-Feature Comparison (continued)
Feature CMMI Lean Six Sigma
Typical improvement One year to 18 months Three months
project time frame?
Provides enterprise- Yes, in the Yes
wide improvement engineering
strategy? development areas
Typical community- US government Corporate America
Recognized standard Yes Limited, ASQ
for qualifying certification most
improvement widely recognized
How To Use CMMI and Lean Six Sigma Together
• Lean Six Sigma: identify your organization’s mission goals.
• Lean Six Sigma: develop measures that are leading indicators of the
• Lean Six Sigma and CMMI: trace the leading indicator measures
down to specific process gaps and, if possible, measurable process
• CMMI: for the process gaps related to systems and software
engineering, acquisition, and integrated product and process
development, identify the absent best practices.
– For gaps not related to the CMMI disciplines, choose other standards to
identify best practices.
• CMMI or Lean Six Sigma: use either CMMI or Lean Six Sigma to
guide the development of improved processes.
– Use Six Sigma tools if process improvement measurement data is
readily available; otherwise, use CMMI.
• Lean Six Sigma or CMMI: use either CMMI or Six Sigma to
institutionalize the process improvements.
– Use Six Sigma tools if the improved process produces measurement
data; otherwise, use CMMI.