We're just starting out with CMMI and my manager says we should employe Six Sigma to manage our metrics. Does that make sense?
Six Sigma is a set of methods for gathering, analyzing, and acting on information derived from statistal analysis of performance data. The CMMI is a process model. The two CAN co-exist with one another.
Whether or not a company has adopted CMMI has no bearing on their ability to apply 6Sigma techniques, of course, but the viability of the results are skewed by the lack of “standard process performance.” The degree of skew is a risk management problem – how much flawed data is a manager willing to work with? Starting with the assumption that data is ALWAYS flawed, it comes down to how much risk are they willing to manage? Even when you apply Stastical Process Control to software the data is always flawed. But even flawed data can be helpful DEPENDING on how it’s used. This type of conversation seems to open their eyes a bit to the use of statistical data.
So yes, techniques like 6Sigma CAN be applied at any time – but the value and accuracy of the data they produce increased as process stability increases. This may have nothing at all to do with CL by the way. The absence of a policy, for instance, may not affect data accuracy (especially in small organizations). Sometimes, depending on the client, I advise them to put 6S on hold until they’ve reached some level of stability. One could argue that it’s a “waste” until CMMI ML5, but I don’t think so – there is value to the data at all levels (assuming we know what we’re looking at and why).