I had an interesting conversation with a client last week. They had a process that was a "burning issue." They threw a couple Six Sigma Black Belts at it to make process improvements.
Six months later, they approached Lombardi to ask if this process was a good one for Business Process Management (BPM), which is were I got involved.
So what does BPM provide that 6 sigma doesn't? In their case, they had a manual process for tracking metrics. Someone would go into a time tracking system, acknowledge that they were starting a task, go do the task, and go back to the time tracking system to say it was done. This is what is referred to as a "swivel chair" integration. The task execution and time tracking aren't truley integrated. This is one area that BPM can help, it tracks execution of the task because the task and tracking of the task are integrated in the same tool.
So BPM can improve capturing metrics, what else? In their case, the task itself was still being performed with emails and spreadsheets. Moving to BPM will eliminate these activities. All process data and communications happens via the BPM platform.
A BPM platform also lets you tweak the process easier. You identify a bottleneck through metrics captured automatically, figure out how to work around it, make a change to the process, and you're done. Kaizen at its finest.
So while 6 sigma gets you in the right direction, BPM will set the groundwork for continous improvement.