Where does project management fit in?

If you’re interested in learning about Lean Six Sigma, there’s a pretty good chance you’re also interested in project management.  That’s because Six Sigma projects are exactly that, projects.  To be successful, you must know how to lead a project. 
That means managing people, teams, deadlines, process changes (change management), time management, and most importantly, stakeholder management.  All of these elements are constantly shifting, so project management is often considered a balancing act.

It’s not uncommon for a project to have competing demands, like time, scope, and cost.  An effective project manager knows how to manage these with finesse.  If you’re getting started with Six Sigma, but you’ve never led a project, you may want to consider learning project management first.  Project management uses a set of principles, rules, methods and tools for planning necessary to start the deployment and successful completion of a project.

These fall under something called a body of knowledge.  The Project Management Institute (PMI) is recognized as the primary developer of the project management body of knowledge (PMIBoK).  Most organizations around the world follow the standard they set and the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification they develop is considered the standard for educational knowledge.

The issue you face is that the PMP is not designed for new project managers.  Someone new to developing projects should consider the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).  This certification has fewer prerequisites than the PMP and is more achievable for a new member.  Depending on the industry you work in, there may also be industry-specific certifications you can consider.  For example, those in the I.T. field can take the Project+ certification from CompTIA.  This focuses on project management for professionals who need to manage smaller, less complex projects as part of their other job duties but still have foundational project management skills.  Inside and outside of the I.T. field.

Once you have training in project management you’ll be prepared for the rigors of leading a Six Sigma Project.  Just like the project management body of knowledge, there are also Six Sigma Bodies of Knowledge like the MSIBok and the ASQBoK.  When you take a training program like the Six Sigma Green Belt or Six Sigma Black Belt you’ll learn these important management principles and how they are applied to Six Sigma projects.  For example, training programs will include information on developing the project business case, the project charter, basic Six Sigma statistics, basic data collection, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).  Depending on the industry you work in, you’ll also want to consider getting a Lean Six Sigma certification.  This is especially true if you work in manufacturing or healthcare, since Lean is used widely in these fields.

Putting it all together

Once you’re certified in multiple disciplines, you’ll find it easier to execute successful projects.  Combining your knowledge from multiple sources allows you to design a roadmap to successfully implementing change within any industry.
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