Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Document Type



Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of Agile in Quality Management Systems.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper provides a brief history of Agile and compares it to the management theory of W. Edwards Deming. The authors then examine the strengths and weaknesses of Lean, Agile, and Six Sigma in relationship to the four components of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge in order to clarify Agile’s role in contemporary Quality Management Systems. In addition to the existing literature, the authors draw extensively on their experiences and observations from more than 50 years of experience in IT and quality (both as practitioners and academics) to substantiate the opinions expressed in the paper.

Findings: This paper acknowledges that while Deming’s management theory could be accurately described as “agile,” Agile is not comprehensive enough to be considered an effective stand-alone Quality Management System. However, our analysis suggests that Agile can be an important part of a contingency or umbrella approach to Quality Management.

Limitations: This is a very theoretical paper based on the authors’ experiences and the existing literature. The next stage of this research is to conduct empirical studies in existing organizations to quantify the advantages and roadblocks of incorporating Agile methodologies in Quality Management Systems.

Originality/value: This paper helps to fill a void in the academic literature concerning the relationships between Agile and Deming’s management theory. Moreover, using the System of Profound Knowledge to understand the role of Lean, Six Sigma and Agile in a Quality Management System is a novel approach.