Software Quality Professional From the Editor - September 2003 - ASQ

Software Quality Professional From the Editor - September 2003


Originating at Motorola in the 1980s and popularized by General Electric in the 1990s, Six Sigma has progressed from a manufacturing methodology to an improvement approach for software and systems engineering. As more organizations attempt Six Sigma deployment in software, several questions have emerged:

  • How does Six Sigma fit with the other software process improvement initiatives my organization is implementing?
  • How do I train software engineers in Six Sigma methods when Six Sigma training is largely focused on manufacturing?
  • What are examples of Black Belt projects in software?

SQP is beginning a special series on Six Sigma that will present a variety of user experiences and topics to help answer these questions, including papers on initiative integration, overall process life cycle, inspection data, specific subprocess optimization, and product design. A multitude of approaches and analytical methods will be explored, and we think you will appreciate the range and complexity of contributed ideas. While Six Sigma is not a silver bullet for solving all software process and product problems, it does provide a focus, framework, and method for accelerating improvement.

Since Six Sigma applications in software are just emerging, and many organizations consider their work proprietary, several of our authors have graciously undergone careful release processes by their companies. We would like to thank them and their respective companies for sharing a glimpse of their Six Sigma experiences, and for helping to lead the way for others!

This issue, our focus is high level. One article focuses on the integration of Six Sigma, CMMI, and the Personal Software Process within the software supply chain. The other article focuses on factors within the software life cycle that impact productivity. Because many readers may not be familiar with Six Sigma fundamentals, we have supplemented these articles with additional explanations. We invite you to discuss the articles, as well as the fundamental topics presented in this series, on a Yahoo Group established to promote the sharing of ideas on Six Sigma applications in software and systems engineering:

If reading these articles inspires you to write about your own experiences, we welcome additional submissions. The software community is interested in case studies related to projects, products, processes; development, contracting/acquisition; training programs and strategic deployment, including project selection; and initiatives such as CMMI®, PSP(SM), GQ(I)M, PSM, and balanced scorecards. Applications of nonstatistical and statistical methods alike are welcome. Please submit your papers to and per the guidelines below.

And, if you simply are looking for additional information, please check out the Yahoo Group mentioned previously, the Software Engineering Information Repository ( — measurement domain), or the newly launched Six Sigma software channel (

Jeannine Siviy
Software Engineering Institute Editor-in-Chief

Taz Daughtrey

® Capability Maturity Model, Capability Maturity Modeling, Carnegie Mellon, CMM, and CMMI are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.

(SM) CMM Integration, Personal Software Process, PSP, SEI, SEPG, Team Software Process, and TSP are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.

Six Sigma Submission Guidelines
This special series on Six Sigma applications in software engineering has been launched to highlight case studies and lessons learned that effectively demonstrate how Six Sigma has been used to solve a critical software issue or to improve a software product or process. Additional practices describing Six Sigma deployment, training, or integration with other initiatives to optimize or accelerate success are also encouraged for submission.

Note that SQP uses the Certified Software Quality Engineer Body of Knowledge (BOK) as its frame of reference, and it is expected that articles will address some aspect of this BOK. For more information about the BOK, see For information about the SQP mission, go to

Submission Guidelines:

  • Limit articles to 4000-6000 words in MS Word or .rtf format
  • Include references if appropriate (no more than 20 please)
  • Include sidebars and supplemental information if relevant
  • See for additional author guidelines and information
  • Submit your article as an attachment to and


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