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CPDE and Six Sigma

I was asked recently how Certified Process Design Engineer® (CPDE) and Six Sigma might work together. I was also asked to clarify the value of holding a Certified Process Design Engineer® certification. To deal with these questions we must first clarify the difference between CPDE® and Six Sigma. First CPDE® is a role and a set of methods and approaches for that role to use in defining, designing and implementing strong IT Service Management processes. Six Sigma is a quality framework based on the work of men like W. Edwards Deming, Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby (the Big Three of the quality movement) and developed out of Motorola’s efforts to improve quality. The two are not at odds, rather they complement each other.

A CPDE has the skills to look at an organization, understand its culture, its approach to process and quality and its need for improvement. Once this assessment is done (using tools like the ITIL Process Maturity Framework, or CMMI) the CPDE would identify which elements or aspects of all the available ITSM frameworks (including Six Sigma, Microsoft Operations Framework, CObIT, TOGAF, Zachman, and any number of others) could become part of an appropriate mix of approaches to meet the unique needs of a company’s customers and challenges. This proprietary mix of elements could then be continually improved or changed by the CPDE to meet ongoing or future challenges or needs.

A CPDE would be versed in how the various frameworks work and interact; which framework is right for a given issue or challenge; how to assess the maturity of an organization and their current efforts; how to make improvements to processes, culture and organization to better succeed in meeting challenges.

An example might suffice in this situation. Let us say we have a large organization in an electronics manufacturing industry. It has a number of clients who have large orders. Our organization is having difficulties meeting these orders because the manufacturing line computerized equipment keeps failing. This causes delays in producing the orders and the quality is not meeting the needs of the clients who begin to become dissatisfied. The business is looking to IT to help fix the situation because they support the computerized equipment.

A CPDE would be able to look at the situation and recognize that lack of good design processes, as well as incident management, problem management, project management and continual improvement are all lacking. They could then recommend to the IT department that efforts be made to use ITIL, Project Management Book of Knowledge and Six Sigma methods to help improve the situation. The CPDE could then lead the effort to define and develop these approaches and help see them get implemented and maintained over time.

So a CPDE is a type of internal consultant, expert, auditor, project leader and implementation leader who brings the right elements and parts together to create the correct solution for a given issue or challenge or need to be met. This might be through Six Sigma or ITIL or a large selection of available methodologies, frameworks and standards.

When first introduced to the role of the CPDE I thought “what a brilliant idea”. Here, finally, was a way to be taught and shown the proper way to help an organization succeed in their ITSM effort. I have long sought for a definitive approach to being a consultant to others without only being very smart about a subject. Being a Professor I know well that just having knowledge of a subject does not mean you automatically know how to teach, train or lead others in executing an action. The role of CPDE helps to fill that gap for the implementation of ITSM and the associated processes and frameworks by having the knowledge of how to implement the best combination of elements for their organization.


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