ITIL vs Six Sigma: What's the Difference?

By Praveen Kumar 25-May-2022
ITIL vs Six Sigma: What's the Difference?

Every service industry including information technology requires that the services they deliver are of high quality. To ensure quality service management, two methods are being employed widely – IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Six Sigma. Both have their own advantages. But, most organizations prefer using both of them together.

It would be a good idea for IT professionals to earn the ITIL certification which will provide insight about applying ITIL to combine its benefits with Six Sigma. Although they have differences, the one thing common about them is their focus on customer satisfaction. Let us see them in detail here.

What are ITIL and Six Sigma?

ITIL is a framework used to support and deliver IT-based services. The ITIL model has many components. Service support includes change management, problem management, release management, incident management and configuration management. Service delivery includes capacity management, availability management, financial management, service level management and service continuity management. Each of these components has some recommended procedures and practices that can be adopted in total or individually.

Six Sigma is greatly used outside IT management for the improvement of operational processes. This formal approach evaluates which processes are important to your business, uses the methodology to improve the processes and their results and measures the quality of output for the processes. It blends well with the concept of IT service management and gives importance to economic savings. Prioritization and customer satisfaction are chief aspects of Six Sigma.

Difference between ITIL and Six Sigma

In a normal scenario, ITIL and Six Sigma are not used together in the real sense. But, they are used in combination as a complimentary set of practices to improve businesses to a large extent.

Six Sigma is mostly based on calculations, formulas and the analysis of business processes so as to improve them. It focuses on how to improve processes, ITIL deals more with the theory and guidelines required to find out the ‘what’ of the processes.

ITIL methods help businesses determine what should be done to improve processes. On the contrary, Six Sigma helps businesses determine the cause of an issue or where the process went wrong. It then finds out how this can be fixed. It creates a way to measure the services tangibly. Since Six Sigma employs statistical analysis, it is better to try process improvements on a trial basis to see if the benefits are scalable.

Also ReadTop ITIL Interview Questions and Answers

Combining the Approaches

Even with these differences, these two approaches when combined offer a lot of advantages. ITIL specifies what should be done in an organization but, not how. So, the IT professionals in the organization have to determine the process flow and make detailed work instructions themselves. In addition, Sig Sigma tells how to find the root cause of problems and how they can be fixed. With the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of quality improvement determined, the two approaches together improve the quality of IT service support and delivery.

Also Read: Career Prospects of ITIL Certification

Six Sigma can be used in the improvement of the organization’s existing processes that are already using the ITIL framework or just migrating to it. If it is in the migrating stage, the organization can use the strategy of analyzing the risk, finding out what needs to be done to make the processes ITIL-compatible and then use a business case to define how it will migrate to ITIL-compatible state.

As both the approaches of ITIL and Six Sigma are important to the success of a business, attending ITIL training along with Six Sigma will prove extra beneficial. Experts believe that this gives knowledge to implement Six Sigma to provide an ITIL compatible process which is in sync with the business goals of the organization.

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Praveen Kumar

Praveen Kumar is a professional trainer with rich experience in delivering training and consultancy on Project Management and IT Service Management concepts and tools.