Understanding the Difference Between Six Sigma and Project Management

Understanding the Difference Between Six Sigma and Project Management

When it comes to quality improvement, there are two significant disciplines that businesses can employ: Six Sigma and project management. These disciplines are suitable for companies who are looking to reduce costs and increase their revenue.

Six Sigma and project management are both designed to facilitate business processes, making them more streamlined and efficient, thus leading to higher profit. The two disciplines are often mentioned interchangeably due to their overlapping characteristics.

For starters, both Six Sigma and project management are executed by teams composed of employees within the organization who collaborate to enhance processes. Moreover, they both follow distinct phases to improve operations.

While Six Sigma follows the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) phase, project management follows a series of steps, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing.

Though it is true that Six Sigma and project management are quite similar, it is still crucial that companies do not consider them to be interchangeable. That is because each process is different, and it is imperative that teams understand the differences between Six Sigma and project management, especially in terms of the benefits they offer. This is so that businesses can choose one discipline over the other to apply to a certain situation. In this article, the main difference between Six Sigma and project management will be outlined.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is the best option for reducing variance and removing flaws that a process produces. The discipline relies largely on statistical analysis and provides a wide range of tools that analyze performance and assist in determining the underlying causes of problems. Six Sigma uses data to explain where and how changes should be made to a process. The nature of Six Sigma, which is highly-structured and data-driven, can help companies test their solution after it has been implemented.

As Six Sigma makes a long-term commitment to a process, the project teams that use it need to be committed as well. The teams can start by working together to write a charter that clarifies the goal and objective of the project. Then, the team can set milestones so that progress can be measured and improvement can be achieved. In the final parts of the project, the team has to make sure that its effects will remain even after the project is over. They can do this by making detailed documentation that describes how employees and leaders can maintain the improvement.

Project Management

Unlike Six Sigma, project management focuses more on getting the project up and running, rather than upgrading its performance. It employs tools such as the critical path method to confirm that the project is completed in a quick and efficient manner. Project management is more ideal for a one-time implementation of a new process than it is for enhancing an existing process. Moreover, project management does not possess the tools to monitor performance and apply solutions for lasting improvement. Rather than focusing on the entire process, it measures the performance of different aspects of the project and aims to improve the areas that need improving.


By understanding the difference between Six Sigma and project management, companies can decide which one is best for their project. For projects that require a long-term commitment, Six Sigma is the better option. However, project management will be more ideal for projects that simply need to launch quickly.

If you’re looking to learn more about the Six Sigma Yellow Belt Program, the Six Sigma Green Belt program, or the Six Sigma Black Belt Program, get in touch with us today to see how we can help. At Leanoveering we provide training and certificates so you can become a master in Six Sigma methodology and project management.

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