Project Management Method: What are ECM, XPM, and Six Sigma?

August 27th, 2020 in Productivity

Project Management Method: What are ECM, XPM, and Six Sigma?

Finding the Right Project Management Method

When looking for the right project management method, there are many things to consider. What does the method entail? Will it work with the scope of the project? How do you implement the method? Many methods relate to Agile, which was reviewed previously. In this article, learn about whether Event Chain Method (ECM), Extreme Project Management (XPM), or Six Sigma would work for you and your team.

How does ECM relate to critical path method and critical chain project management? What is the difference between XPM and traditional project management? Lastly, what exactly are “belts” in Six Sigma?

Project Management Method #1: Event Chain Method (ECM)

ECM focuses on identifying and managing events and the relationships between them, which are known as event chains, that impact project schedules. It is the next step after critical path method and critical chain project management.

According to Knowledge Hut, ECM “helps to mitigate the effects of motivational and cognitive biases in estimating and scheduling.” By doing so, ECM helps improve the accuracy of risk assessment and helps generate more realistic risk that is adjusted to the project schedules.

ECM focuses on six main principles:

  1. Moment of Risk and State of Activity: this focuses on the moment in time in which an external event, or a factor that influences a task, occurs. External events, which often have negative impacts, transform tasks or activities from one position to another. The moment of risk is probabilistic and can often be characterized using statistical distribution.
  2. Event Chains: a chain of events that is often caused by an external event. This event chain has a significant impact on the course of a project.
  3. Monte Carlo Simulations: a method of risk analysis that is used to quantify the collective consequences of events. This analysis provides a probability curve of the project schedule.
  4. Critical Event Chains: events that have the potential to impact a project the most, which are determined by examining the connections between primary project events.
  5. Performance Tracking with Event Chains: the tracking of the progress of events in order to more accurately calculate risk using the Monte Carlo Simulation.
  6. Event Chain Diagrams: a depiction of the relationships between external events and tasks and how these two affect each other as depicted using arrows.

How to Implement:

  • Outline all the tasks and time needed for each task
  • Identify the predecessor for each task
  • Draw out a Gantt Chart by connecting the activities according to the predecessors of each task
  • Insert milestone tasks (significant events)
  • Assign the early start date of the first tasks and then calculate the start and end dates of the subsequent tasks using the Critical Path Method
  • Assign each event and event chain a different colour. Global events affect all the tasks while local events only affect one task or activity in a project
  • Use downward pointing arrows to identify threats
  • Use upward pointing arrows to identify opportunities
  • Depict the probability of an event by the size of the arrow (larger means it is more likely to happen)
  • Depict event chains as lines connecting arrows

When to Use it: Use ECM in projects that require a chain of events and a risk analysis. ECM is used to simplify the process of defining risks and uncertainties in project schedules.

Project Management Method #2: Extreme Project Management (XPM)

XPM is a part of the Agile project management method family. The focus of XMP is managing project stakeholders and human interactions. The success of XMP hinges on the team’s ability to communicate well and develop a complete understanding. XMP is fast-paced and allows teams to work within a shorter time frame. It is related to Extreme Programming.

While traditional project management focuses on managing the known with a process-driven efficiency, XPM manages the unknown while focusing on effectiveness and being people- and result-driven. XPM is self-correcting, chaotic, and ever changing while traditional management is stable, predictable, and seeks to achieve the planned result. XPM is all about leading, while traditional management is about managing.

For XPM to work effectively, the team must accept specific mindsets, such as: requirements and project activities are unpredictable and constantly changing; flexibility and openness creates a secure, comfortable, and relaxed environment; change is inevitable and requires adaptation; full control of a project is not possible.

How to Implement:

  • Envision the project by defining the vision of the project clearly
  • Produce a communications plan and outline the project stakeholders
  • Engage the stakeholders in a rapid application planning session to plan out the project
  • Speculate by having your team participate in brainstorming sessions that will help achieve your vision
  • Innovate by testing out the speculations through innovative solutions
  • Re-evaluate the project and the team’s work at the end of the iteration
  • Disseminate the information learned after the iteration is complete for the future success of the project

When to Use it: XPM works best in development environments, such as the technology sector, where the project requirements are constantly changing. It is an iterative and incremental development and management method. It is useful when the scope, time, and costs of a project cannot be fully prepared upfront.

Project Management Method #3: Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a measurement-based strategy with the aim of improving the manufacturing process and increasing customer satisfaction. Within Six Sigma, there are five rankings, otherwise known as “martial arts belts”, which recognizes one’s proficiency in training and application of the Six Sigma processes. The belts are as follows: white, yellow, green, black, and master black.

The white belt level focuses on the DMAIC model. DMAIC stands for:

  • Define the problems and objectives
  • Measure what needs to be done to improve
  • Analyze the process and define the factors of influence
  • Improve the process by identifying and implementing improvements
  • Control the process by assuring that the improvements will sustain

There are also seven basic quality tools: cause and effect diagram, flow chart, pareto chart, histogram, check sheet, scatter plot, and control chart.

How to Implement:

  • Define – produce the project plan and specify the problems, the goals of the process improvement project, the project scope, and the internal and external customers and their requirements
    • Prepare the Project Charter, which includes the business case, the problem statement, the goal statement, the project scope, the team and their responsibilities, the time plan, and the estimated project benefits
  • Measure – collect data that is relevant to the project scope by identifying the parameters that need to be quantified and the ways to measure and collect the necessary data
  • Analyze – find the root cause of the business inefficiencies by identifying the gaps between the actual and goal performance. Determine its causes and outline the opportunities for improvement
  • Improve – outline the potential solutions and the ways to implement and test them for improvement. Circulate an action plan to the stakeholders, which specifies the actions to be taken by whom and when these actions will commence
  • Control – create a detailed solution monitoring plan to develop standards and procedures and to verify the benefits and profit growths. Evaluate the progress and success of the changes that were implemented. Provide training to the relevant stakeholders on the changes

When to Use it: Six Sigma is primarily used in the manufacturing process. It can also be used in all industries where the goal is to produce a process that meets customer requirements, improves customer retention, and improves and sustains the business’s products and services.


Knowledge Hut. Event Chain Methodology.
Knowledge Hut. Extreme Project Management.
Grey Campus. DMAIC – A Six Sigma Process Improvement Methodology.

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