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Navigating Process Control: Six Sigma and Project Management Approaches

Wednesday, 1 November 2023 | Du Toit, Malani

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Navigating the Realm of Process Control: A Comprehensive Analysis of Six Sigma and Project Management Approaches – Malani du Toit  - Consultant @pm.ideas

In my prior article, "Exploring the Synergies: Aligning Six Sigma’s Improve Phase”, we unveiled intriguing parallels between Six Sigma and PMI’s PMBOK® Guide and PMI Process Groups – A Practice Guide . While a shared emphasis on implementation and enhancement binds them together, a profound distinction emerges within the scope and objectives they pursue. The crux of the matter? The Six Sigma Improve phase wades deep into the waters of process refinement through data-backed scrutiny and experimentation. On the other bank, the PMBOK® Guide Executing Process Group casts a broader net, encompassing the orchestration of holistic project management – an arena replete with resource juggling, stakeholder engagement, risk mitigation, and quality safeguarding.

As we step into the crux of this discussion, I invite you to join me on a detailed journey. Our compass points towards the accepted route for steering Six Sigma projects:

  • Define: This initial phase anchors the project by sculpting objectives and contours. Here, the canvas is embellished with crucial insights about processes and customers.
  • Measure: Vital metrics and current scenario data converge in this phase, where the pulse of the process is meticulously taken.
  • Analyse: Delving into the repository of amassed data, we unearth the elusive root causes, illuminating the path for resolutions.
  • Improve: Solutions crafted through the crucible of analysis take shape, ready to be woven into the fabric of the process.
  • Control: Rigorous evaluation becomes the guiding star, while mechanisms to secure gains, including standardization, find their place.

However, this journey would be incomplete without our upcoming expedition. In the spotlight awaits the Control phase, poised for juxtaposition against the multifaceted tapestry woven by PMBOK® Guide  and PMI Process Group – A Practice Guide. Here, we peer through the lens of best practices endorsed by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Our goal? To discern the intersections, the harmonies, and the distinctions that paint the canvas of effective process control. So, let‘s venture forth and bridge the domains of Six Sigma‘s Control phase with the PMBOK® Guide‘s time-honoured principles.


In the realm of process improvement and project management, the there publications stand out for their commitment to maintaining control and achieving desired outcomes: the Control phase in Six Sigma and the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group in the PMBOK® Guide and PMI Process Groups – A Practice Guide. Let‘s delve into these two approaches, understanding their core principles and how they contribute to successful outcomes.


Focus Area

Six Sigma’s Control Phase

Monitoring & Controlling Process Group – PMBOK® Guide & PMI Process Groups: A Practice Guide

Key Objective

Sustaining Process Improvements: The Control phase culminates the Six Sigma methodology‘s DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) framework. It is dedicated to establishing mechanisms that sustain the improvements achieved in earlier phases.

Monitoring Project Progress and Manging Exceptions

The Monitoring and Controlling process group, an integral part of the PMBOK® Guide, focuses on tracking project performance, identifying deviations, and implementing corrective actions.

Key Features

Measurement and Monitoring: Precise metrics and indicators are set up to track the process‘s performance over time. Consistent measurement and monitoring facilitate the early detection of deviations from the desired outcomes.


Performance Measurement: Project performance is consistently measured against the project management plan. This assessment gauges progress, detects variances, and ensures alignment with project objectives.

Statistical Process Control (SPC): Utilizing statistical tools and techniques, the process‘s performance is continuously monitored, allowing for prompt identification of potential variations or anomalies.


Change Control: As projects unfold, changes may emerge. These changes are evaluated, approved, and integrated into the project through a controlled process, ensuring that alterations do not derail the project.

Risk Management: Continuous risk assessment occurs throughout the project‘s lifecycle, addressing potential issues before they escalate and impact project success.

Quality Control: Activities dedicated to maintaining quality ensure that project deliverables meet specified standards. This encompasses verifying work correctness and addressing any defects.


Documentation and Standardization: Documenting procedures, guidelines, and best practices ensure the sustained adoption of the improved process. This documentation aids in training new team members and maintaining consistency.


Communication and Reporting: Transparent communication and regular reporting keep stakeholders informed about project progress, potential issues, and changes.



While the Six Sigma Control Phase and the PMBOK® Guide’s Monitoring and Controlling process group aim to maintain control and achieve desired outcomes, their scopes differ significantly. The Six Sigma Control phase primarily concentrates on process improvement and sustainability.

 The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group is concerned with comprehensive project management.

Both approaches enhance processes and projects by embracing measurement, monitoring, and corrective actions, ensuring they stay on track and deliver the expected results. 



In the intricate worlds of process improvement and project management, the Control phase in Six Sigma and the PMBOK Guides - Monitoring and Controlling Process Group are pillars of success. Each approach, with its unique principles and frameworks, guarantees that processes and projects meet their goals. By comprehending the nuances of these phases/groups, organizations and professionals can make informed decisions to foster efficiency, quality, and achievement in their endeavours.







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A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Seventh Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2021, "PMI", the PMI logo, the PMI Authorised Training Partner logo "Making project management indispensable for business results", PMBOK, "Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)", "Project Management Professional (PMP)®", "Disciplined Agile®; Scrum Master (DASM)", "Disciplined Agile®; Senior Scrum Master (DASSM)", PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)", "PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)", "PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)", "Program Management Professional (PgMP)", "Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)", "Project Management Journal" and "OPM3" are trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


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