Microsoft’s Endeavor to Streamline Your Six Sigma Process

Microsoft is cognizant of the struggles that businesses face with information management, particularly when deploying Six Sigma enterprise-wide. The good news is, Microsoft is willing to offer assistance, and that too, at no cost (well, almost).

While it’s widely accepted that Six Sigma doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the table in terms of the Total Quality Management/Statistical Process Control toolkit, it does heavily rely on computer technology to accelerate and simplify complex problem analysis. Six Sigma practitioners now have a powerful new tool at their disposal – the Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma. This tool is designed to enhance functionality for Six Sigma businesses and aligns with the five DMAIC phases of Six Sigma: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.

The Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma enhances the utilization of existing Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office, Project, and Visio, and even third-party tools for managing Six Sigma projects. Its features include tracking financial outcomes of these projects, resource management, and reporting of results and project statuses. Moreover, the Accelerator aids with e-learning via the Microsoft Enterprise Learning Library v. 2. While the Accelerator itself is free and is expected to be available via partners by mid-year, the prerequisite is to purchase the software that it supports.

Microsoft distinguishes between ‘Accelerators’ and ‘Solutions’. The role of the Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma is to expedite the creation of a comprehensive Six Sigma solution using diverse applications. A more fitting name could be “Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma” or “Microsoft Six Sigma Solution Accelerator”. The full solution requires additional effort by what Microsoft refers to as “Microsoft Partners”. These partners include Microsoft Project partners, Six Sigma consultants, and vertical industry partners, all of whom play crucial roles in developing new Accelerator solutions. If you create your own Accelerator solution, you’re effectively a partner too.

As per Ingo Heel, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft’s Information Worker Enterprise Solutions Group, there are five pillars that make up a comprehensive Six Sigma solution: business scorecard management, enterprise project management, Six Sigma tools management, knowledge management, and e-learning.

Business Scorecard Management

Six Sigma professionals don’t function in isolation. To implement change, Black Belts, Green Belts, and other team members must communicate their insights effectively. The Accelerator simplifies this process by directly linking PowerPoint to data sources like Excel files. It can generate PowerPoint reports automatically, eliminating the need for highly trained Black Belts and Green Belts to manually copy, paste, and format data for presentations. This feature is likely to save considerable time and be a significant advantage. Creating a presentation-quality graphic or a daily financial report becomes a straightforward point-and-click operation.

Enterprise Project Management

The Accelerator simplifies the management of Six Sigma projects across an enterprise by providing custom Project Guides for each DMAIC project phase. It allows real-time analysis of financial data with direct links to financial systems. Project status and resource utilization can also be monitored in real-time, enabling Six Sigma leadership to gain insights on how human resources are utilized. This data can be automatically analyzed to identify, store, access, and apply best practices.

Six Sigma Tools Management

The Accelerator lets organizations leverage software that they’re already familiar with. It also works seamlessly with non-Microsoft products. Third-party tools for training, statistical analysis, and process simulation can be directly accessed using the Accelerator.

Knowledge Management

Organizations can benefit from additional DMAIC customization provided by the Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma for SharePoint Team Services. Documents stored on the team site can be organized according to phase, ensuring accurate data is always available for decision making, regardless of the location.


Online training is often more feasible due to cost, travel, and convenience. The Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma integrates effortlessly with third-party learning tools and provides online training via SharePoint Team Services. The site also keeps track of completed training.

The Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma can be beneficial for key Six Sigma personnel in different ways. Executives can leverage executive dashboards to view and summarize Six Sigma project data. Master Black Belts have access to operations and business-level scorecards for project selection, chartering, tracking, and resource management. Black Belts can monitor their project portfolio progress and ensure tollgates are closed as projects move along the DMAIC cycle. Green Belts have access to DMAIC project activity guides, storyboarding, collaboration tools, and project progress reporting tools.

Remember that the Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma only addresses the information dimension of your Six Sigma deployment. As important as that is, there are other aspects such as leadership, customer and stakeholder relationships, and training that you’ll need to tackle on a person-to-person basis. While the Accelerator may not convince that cynic in accounting, it can certainly make managing your Six Sigma information easier, possibly freeing up some time for you to win over those skeptics.

At the time of writing, the Microsoft Accelerator for Six Sigma is not yet available and is scheduled for a midyear release. If it lives up to the hype, it promises to be a valuable addition to the Six Sigma toolkit.