Why Choose Lean Six Sigma As Your Project Management Certification?

21 Dec 2018
Why Choose Lean Six Sigma As Your Project Management Certification?

With the workplace of today as competitive as ever, professionals face a mad struggle for differentiation. Whether they’re looking to join an organisation or are already part of a team, these pro’s know that they need more than the usual skill set to stand out and get ahead—hence, the continuing popularity of project management certifications. 

Top employers place a premium on hires who are certified in project management methodologies such as Agile, Scrum and Lean Six Sigma (LSS). Let’s take a look at the reasons why LSS is a front-runner for methodology of choice, and how it and other methodologies stack up against each other.

First, an overview of some of the most popular project management certifications.

Agile emphasises the delivery of value to the customer or end user by focusing on the interactions between the people involved. In so doing, Agile manages uncertainty by factoring it into the process along with the collection of customer feedback. This allows teams to respond effectively to the unforeseen while working on a project.

Project Management Professional or PMP certification involves taking an exam which tests you on project commencement, planning, implementation, monitoring and conclusion. Other subjects covered in the exam include managing project scope, integration, cost, and quality, as well as human resource management.

Scrum is a structured methodology that adheres to a fixed set of roles and responsibilities. Teams hold regularly scheduled meetings and usually deliver after one- or two-week “sprints”. Team members report their progress and receive feedback during each sprint, at the end of which they plan next their next course of action.

Kanban focuses on tracking each stage of the workflow from beginning to end. Each stage has a “work in progress” (WIP) limit that ensures that the workflow keeps moving even if bottlenecks should occur. The system itself changes gradually and continuously, with WIP limits being adjusted as needed for urgent requirements.

Systems Applications and Products or SAP had the original objective of giving customers a way to interact on one platform. Today, people use SAP to manage operations, documents, materials accounting and financial assets, with SAP certification covering nearly every facet of business management.  

Total Quality Management or TQM emphasises long-term continuous improvement not just for manufacturing but all departments within an organisation. In terms of quality, TQM focuses more on corporate culture and the attitude of the team rather than on the finished product to better serve customers.

5S stands for Sort, Store, Shine, Standardise and Sustain—the five steps toward operational excellence. This relatively straightforward and simple to implement methodology starts out by taking stock of the current situation, organising things, and getting rid of anything that keeps things from running smoothly.

How do these other certifications stack up against each other and Lean Six Sigma?

Though many of them overlap in terms of principles or techniques, each methodology has different focus areas. Lean, for instance, focuses on the elimination of waste, Six Sigma stresses quality via the elimination of defects, while Agile puts the end users or consumers in the spotlight.

Many of these methodologies actually complement each other as well as LSS because of their different focus areas and the synergy between them. Because of this, many people recommend combining two or more methodologies, even together with LSS itself.

Agile, for instance, mirrors Lean in its focus on the reduction of waste in its drive towards value delivery, with the Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe making use of both Agile and Lean principles.

Someone certified in both LSS and Agile might use one or the other depending on the needs of the project at hand, or both in order to maximise project results. This person could use LSS’ DMAIC approach to identify a problem, and then use Agile to define the work to be done and plan out the schedule for doing it.

Scrum is also often used in implementing Agile, and may also be combined with Kanban in a methodology called Scrumban. In Scrumban, the regularity of the meetings varies according to need, and the emphasis is on enforcing the WIP limits.

Implementing 5S is likewise regarded as an ideal way to prepare an organisation for adopting Lean Six Sigma.

How do you choose which certification to go for?

The potent combination of Lean and Six Sigma is probably the first reason that comes to mind for the continued popularity of LSS. The proven effectiveness of its implementation in companies such as Arrow Electronics could be a close second, with the ease of its compatibility with other methodologies, a close third.

But your choice of project management certification mustn’t be based on popularity alone. A careful assessment of the needs of your organisation—or the organisation you wish to join, or most organisations in your industry—should help you decide.

Bear in mind that different organisations will have different workflows, team cultures and objectives, and it’s up to you to determine which methodology will best meet their needs. Some of the project or operational characteristics to consider when making your choice include

  • Budget
  • Complexity
  • Limitations
  • Objectives


  • Performance Indicators
  • Risks
  • Scope
  • Stakeholders

Be sure to consider how much of an impact a particular methodology will be able to make, and the challenges involved in its implementation. You might have to train your team, for instance, or learn to use new software. Ask your team for feedback on the methodology and take note of the reasons for or against its selection.

Find out how you can earn your own LSS belts at SMU Academy.

The Academy understands your needs as a programme participant with concurrent responsibilities at work, and knows how you expect results from applying what you have learned. Get full details of our flexible programme schedules and funding for our Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification programmes, today.