Companies looking for the reduced costs and increased revenue that continuous improvement brings quickly discover two important disciplines for improving quality. Six Sigma and are both designed to help processes work better, which leads to an improved bottom line.

Six Sigma MythsSix Sigma and are often mentioned together because of their similarities. Both methods are carried out by teams made up of employees throughout the organization who work together to improve processes. Both Six Sigma and take place in multiple phases. Six Sigma follows the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) phase. Project management plays out in a series of steps known as initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing.

Both methods are similar, but companies that consider them to be interchangeable are standing on dangerous ground.  Because each process is actually different, teams must understand the different benefits that Six Sigma and offer before choosing which to use in which situation.

The Difference Between Six Sigma and Project Management

What Is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is the method of choice for reducing variance and eliminating the number of defects that a process produces. Six Sigma relies heavily on statistical analysis and offers an arsenal of tools that analyze current performance and help identify the root causes of problems. Six Sigma can provide the data to justify where and how to make changes to a process. The highly-structured and data-driven nature of Six Sigma helps teams test their solution after they’ve implemented it.

Six Sigma makes a long-term commitment to a process, and it requires commitment from the project teams that practice it. This commitment begins when the team works together to write a charter that defines the objective of the project. It continues as the team sets milestones that will mark progress toward improvement. In the final stages of the project, the team ensures that its influence will be felt long after it is dissolved by creating detailed documentation that explains how users can keep its improvements in place.

What Is Project Management?

Project management is more concerned with getting the project up and running than with fine tuning its performance. It uses tools like the critical path method to ensure that the project is completed quickly and efficiently.

Project management works better for a one-time implementation of a new process rather than continually improving an existing process. Project management lacks the tools to measure performance and implement solutions for permanent improvement. Instead it looks at how different components of the project are performing, and seeks to improve those that are lagging, rather than focusing on the entire process.

Understanding the difference between Six Sigma and helps you discern between the projects that need the long-term guidance of Six Sigma and those that need the quick shot of to get them on their feet.