Six Sigma is a quality management methodology applied both online as well as offline based on statistical measurements to improve performance by reducing the number of defect to 3.4 or few defects per million items produced and a subsequent increase in profits and decrease in operational costs. It mainly targets to remove the obstacles in a process which are resulting in defects.


Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) structure is framework used by the IT Industry for delivering and improving IT related services. There are many components of the ITIL framework such as incident management, problem management, change management, configuration management, and release management, availability management, capacity management, service continuity management, financial management, and service level management. Each of these components has a set of recommended practices and procedures which can be adopted individually or together.

Though the main aim of both Six Sigma and ITIL is to enhance customer satisfaction, the two approaches are used independently to improve the business performance from a number of angles. The two approaches have their own benefits and are complimentary set of practices.

Where does the difference lie?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a comprehensive set of best practices and guidelines for the IT Industry. On the other hand, Six Sigma is a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.

ITIL methods help a business organisation in determining what needs to be done in order to improve the processes. However it does not specifies how it should be done. For instance, as specified by ITIL, priorities should be assigned to each incident which comes into the service desk. But it does not specify how this priority can be assigned.

Thus ITIL can be seen as the “WHAT” of IT service management which is more concerned with the theories and guidelines. Six Sigma on the other hand, can help a business enterprise in working out what the root cause of an issue is and thus ascertaining the best method to fix the same.  Thus Six Sigma is seen as “HOW” of quality improvement which is concerned with continuous quality enhancement. 

Six Sigma can be applied to the existing processes of a business organisation which is already following the ITIL framework. It can also be applied in an enterprise which is about to migrate to ITIL framework.

Six Sigma is universally applicable and can be applied to all the domains and industries whereas ITIL has narrow applicability and is primarily designed for IT industry, unlike Six Sigma.

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