Pallab Bhattacharya, team lead for the IT project management office and software engineering process group and head of lean Six Sigma for Morgan Stanley India in Mumbai
Pallab Bhattacharya, a member of ASQ since 2004, is the team lead for the IT project management office and software engineering process group and head of lean Six Sigma for a Morgan Stanley India in Mumbai. There, his responsibilities include IT project and program management consulting and software development process engineering. Bhattacharya also implements performance metrics for IT portfolios, designs and champions the lean Six Sigma India program for the firm across IT and business processes, runs Black Belt projects and mentors and trains Green Belts. He founded the lean Six Sigma India initiative for Morgan Stanley India.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India, and his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, also in Calcutta. Bhattacharya, a senior member of ASQ, is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and a certified manager of quality/organizational excellence. He is also a certified Scrum Master from Agile Software Practices.
Bhattacharya recently shared some insight into the importance of Six Sigma projects and gave useful tips for those new to quality.
What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
I am not a great believer of a top-down Six Sigma deployment like GE conducted. Not all environments are always equally conducive to a top-down approach, especially the organic environments of today’s global corporations. I think a middle-out approach is safest until the firm hits the critical mass in a Six Sigma paradigm. It’s important to involve the right people in both number and capacity at the right time to sponsor Six Sigma projects. It’s also important to involve self-enterprising people for the first wave of projects. Project scoping should be high impact yet small enough to prove benefits to sponsors quickly. A unique culture that I call free benefits is something every project must have. Despite meeting failure in terms of successful process change or innovation, every project can surely create value for the firm by ensuring two free benefits. One is create transparency and visibility around the process through documentation and standardization. The other is to define key performance indicators for the process and implement a platform involving minimum manual effort to gather and report the same for long term.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
Lean Six Sigma ties various values together based on our own perspectives. There are a number of ways to look at it.
- The data driven structure problem-solving technique (for hidden random issues) can reap low hanging fruits through lean by eliminating visible process breaks, wastes and inefficiencies. Most importantly, it does not mandate any practice, unlike ISO or capability maturity model (CMM). We can keep it as lightweight as we like it to be.
- Lean Six Sigma provides a ground-breaking project management structure through define, measure, analyze, improve and control.
- Equal focus on mean and variation. Six Sigma brings a long-term sustainable approach toward process performance management.
- For matured organizations, Six Sigma offers much more than a statistical tool. It provides a virtual balanced scorecard or corporate performance measurement platform, aligning strategic objectives (big Ys) to project Ys and then to controllable Xs.
Why do you think quality is important?
Traditionally, quality has been defined as “meeting specified customer requirements or fit for use.” But the definition has changed. Today, quality is
creating value for its universe, which for any company includes customers, shareholders, the environment and employees. Gone are the days when quality was a reason to differentiate—today, it’s a need to exist. Almost all products and services are perishable, but what remains with the universe is the experience and it’s the value the product or service created. More than an attribute of product or service, quality today symbolizes the entire brand.
What’s your favorite benefit of quality?
The paradigm shift in mind-set. Through a gradual but eventual process of transformation, the firm’s entire culture changes from a delivery focused mind-set to value creation mind-set.
Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
Seven years ago I became Green Belt certified. It changed my thoughts and my life. Quality principles and tools always fascinated me, and I kept on enhancing my knowledge. ASQ’s Six Sigma Black Belt and manager of quality/organizational excellence certification provides me the best platform on which to build my career and provides me a broader perspective to my thinking process. I think the field of quality is one of the greatest places for creating thinking. I am a practitioner of TRIZ, lateral thinking and six hats, and I strongly believe quality is an endless sea of common sense innovations.
What’s your best advice to someone new to quality?
- The quality field has an ever-expanding horizon, and thinkers around the world are discovering new ways of doing things better. To keep up, you need to believe in an eternal learning process, and never close your learning doors.
- Applicability, flexibility and adaptability—no concept is best, and no concept is worst. There is always a better side of any idea or concept or practice. Try to embrace favorable parts from all technologies around, be it lean, Six Sigma, CMM or ISO. Focus on a target audience and the firm culture, and then decide on what might work the best for the context.
- As a quick win, all quality professionals should look at cost of quality (COQ), as this is the easiest target for all type of contexts and industries. Learn what is value adding and nonvalue adding for customer. The minimum COQ strategy is quality by design, not by control. Differentiate between cost of poor quality and cost of quality.