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Quality Management – Six Sigma

Automation is almost everywhere, and head more in the IT sphere. Of course it started from there and soon spread to other industries. It wasn’t a question when they are introduced in software industry, especially in testing. It was more about the replacement skilled hands good at manual testing. No matter how good you are testing, there is a slack on everyone as the day wears out, human fatigue, wear and tear is all part of the daily rigor, but for a machine that’s lifeless and programmed to perform complex and complicated work, there is no such fatigue except the glitch, which the engineers anticipate, preempt before deploying into production. 

There is flip side into automation but the benefits far overweigh manual testing and hence the job loss.  With automation taking over as a technological drive, it was only a matter of time before manual testing would replace men with machines. That’s the reality and sooner one reconciles and find alternatives to stay relevant, and required there is less to worry about pink slips.

It is a technique that was devised way back in 1990s by two engineers working in Motorola to improve the quality by decreasing the numbers of errors that might occur. It is basically about identifying the causes of the errors, and systematically removing there errors, so that there will be not any recurrence. The quality engineer follows management methods based on experimentation and observation and analyse their findings through statistical methods. 

The higher the probability of reducing the errors, then higher will the profitability to the organization. This was the underlying principle. This practice created a specialized pool of talented people who have an eye of detecting the flaws and direction solutions to fix. 


They follow a step of methods that sequential in inspecting and identifying the defect to create a defect-free product. Statistically speaking 3.4 defective features per million opportunities means 99.99966% of all opportunities to produce some feature of a part that are free from defects. That is six sigma in a nut shell.

Six Sigma Green Belt Certification



DPMO is Defect Per Million Opportunities. From the chart, it is evident the desired six sigma level is 6.

Along with the various level of identification came the expertise with in a person to handle six-sigma related projects and to evaluate their expertise, karate belts like yellow, black were used to identify the skillset of the six sigma professionals.

The Six Sigma Green Belt professionals are generally employees who are involved with maintenance of Six-Sigma as part of their job responsibilities. This does mean that this is their only job but one among many parts of their line of work.   Six Sigma Certification Online is very much possible as training centers provide different modes of imparting knowledge transfer: Instructor-led Classroom, Instructor-Led Online Class and E-Learning.

There are many benefits of Sig Sigma testing, some of which are highlighted below:

Improved quality: when Motorola initiated in early 90s, it almost went unnoticed. Jack Welch made it popular when he announced the annual results and heads started turns to Six Sigma and more companies followed suit.

Increased ROI:  As mentioned above, higher probability of reducing the errors leads to greater profitability to the organization.

Greater Customer Satisfaction: It’s a win-win where both the stakeholders are happy: the client and vendor.

Employee Recognition. The employees who worked in bringing the turnaround by tightly controlling the defects deserve due appreciation and accolade.

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The 5 Whys and Root Cause Analysis Quality Management

Mostly employed in root cause analysis, 5 Whys prominently appears in the Analyze phase of DMAIC in Six Sigma. This technique iteratively interrogative in nature, mainly used to identify to the root cause or defect, was developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used in the Toyota Motor Corporation. [source: wiki] Experts have varied opinions about this methodology which is often performed by a fish-bone diagram. There is no single root cause, if observed closely. Usually, it is a chain of events or combination of factors. Identification of the bug is a critical challenge and there are various methods and techniques. One such identified method is 5-why. This helps to understand the top 5 root causes which predominantly contribute to the problem . The method might sound basic but very effective. The question is often posed from the answer received and it’s an iterative model. You can try and picture as some day-to-day issues you find yourself troubleshooting by find the root cause, like the scores of your child in a recently held d test paper. It’s as much questioning your child “why did you grades dip?” and from response offered by your child, there is a counter question –answer, till you are convinced one way or the other. Why did your grades dip? I didn’t do the exam properly. Why didn’t you do the exam properly? I couldn’t answer most of the questions. Why couldn’t you answer most of the questions? The questions were not familiar. Why weren’t the questions familiar? I had not prepared well enough. Why didn’t you prepare? Because I was playing and missed on the time to prepare. Finally, it’s the lack of preparation that led to the poor performance. This might be your conclusion drawn from the conversation. And the advice or course of action is to ‘gear up well and be more prepared to face the next test.’ Here is another example from a professional backdrop: Apply the same to a project to analyze about a failure – which we call it the root cause analysis. There is no rule to stop the questioning at 5-level. It can go further. General studies reveal that ‘5 why’ usually lead to the main reason(s) of failure. To illustrate further the 5 Whys, take a look at the image : Limitation This method suffers from its own share of shortfalls. The technique stops at the symptoms level and fails to dig deeper at the lower-level root causes. The results not being repeatable is a major constraint in this method. Besides, ‘Why’ can lead to multiple root causes but there is an inclination to isolate a single root cause and stick to it. The limitations aside, 5 Whys is nevertheless is significantly used in Root Cause Analysis (RCA).
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Quality Management a test of the Tester

The iron triangle of project management has scope+ time+ cost and at the core rests the Quality. Meaning none of the axes can be compromised, which consequently impact Quality adversely. So what’s about Quality? Well, everything boils down to Quality. Standards are Quality measure. High standards attributes to High Quality. Well, when thoughts transcend from personal experience as Project Manager, I always ensured the quality team has the final word on everything shipped much to the chagrin of the development team. They often sparred as to ‘who called the shots?’ and I will put my best foot forward “I do” to the eerie silence of the team. A team is a bunch of individuals with their own talent, and that’s why we refer recruitment more as Talent Acquisition. No matter the nomenclature associated, no two individuals are going to be the same. Like-minded perhaps, but unlikely twins in thoughts. So it’s a mixed pool. Fundamentally its still the make, sell, support, and the Quality team falls under the support bucket while developers act as the breadwinners in the ‘make’ stream, and hence feel privileged and even entitled. At the inception of the project, when the Developers roll up the sleeves and get busy writing Unit Cases, testers too are full of activity preparing test cases. So the any claim of entitlement is very juvenile in judgement and I dare say never to expect anything additional other than the allocated. One incident always enlivens and worth narrating. He was a super-duper geek that touching his code is deemed an insult. It’s like rinsed with Listerine mouth freshener every five minutes that the teeth are sparkling white and fragrant. One should marvel at the pride taken in their work that they come down to challenge “check my code and any bug, I am toasted else you are roasted”. I found a demure girl, belying her age, walking up to the rock star “I am sorry but there seems to be a bug”. A volcano just erupted. When the pride is pricked, what else can you expect? Fireworks. I was observing the exchange from a distance but didn't intervene. They are professionals and ought to conduct like one. A dent to his dignity, he mounts a ferocious attack justifying every nook and corner while the tester patiently hears him out. After a full fifteen minutes of explanation, the girl calmly states “I understand but it’s a bug”. The developer slams his forehead and unloads a heap of curses in which one expletive burst out unbeknown. Now discipline and decorum can never be conceded at any cost. Since the unfortunate exchange happened on the floor, the shrill pitch made heads turn around. The lady was unmoved and strangely didn't emote at all but retained her composure. The developer, in sharp contrast, was belligerent and a nervous wreck. However sharp you might be, team play takes prominence and position. Both approached my desk and my silence spelled ANGER. My glare at nowhere but all ears, I wanted to hear one word ‘sorry’ instead he defied everything that’s sacrosanct and conduct hardly propriety. I demanded ‘Apologize. Now’. It was not a counsel but a command, and reluctantly he budged and muttered the apology. He might be a rock star but that lady’s attitude made her much taller and he dwarfed in stature. I then requested the tester to walk through the bug and she clearly made her case which was watertight. Confounded with the bug and confused as how his code can be cracked, the developer was at his wits ends and close to tears. Passion is different to taking things personal. After all to err is human. Managing people is far too different and difficult than project. My call still remained unaltered ‘the tester will have the final word’ and pausing “if the client finds fault in the UAT [User Acceptance Testing], it will the tester who will be taken to task”. Even that developer smiled. Much rests on the shoulders of the tester who are gate-keepers. Nothing can or should slip or creep between their legs. With an eye for details and investigating instincts to sniff something unusual, they treat every test case as a suspect and once convinced of merits pass it for clearance. That tester demonstrated typical traits expected – the poise, politeness, profound knowledge, patience, perseverance, while the other (Developer) displayed pettiness. Her signature statement was bereft of sentiment but well stated “I am more concerned about the Quality of the Project just as you are about the principles of Project Management.” Well said! Quality Management is a key knowledge area in PMP® Certification exam. For more details visit

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CMMI Certification

CMMI is a proven approach to performance management with decades of results showing it works. Organizations using CMMI have predictable cost, schedule, and quality—business results that serve as discriminators among their competitors. CMMI is built with practices and goals seen in thousands of real organizations worldwide. Use these practices and goals to evaluate your own performance and decide what to improve for your own business reasons.
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