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What is DMAIC in Six Sigma? How to Use the DMAIC Model?

dmaic model

Today’s forward-thinking businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve and skilled professionals to help them achieve this. Given our current commercial atmosphere of increased competition and economic uncertainty, that’s a prudent strategy. Only companies that evolve and quickly solve problems will flourish and last.

The DMAIC model is a valuable resource that helps businesses improve performance while dealing quickly with issues. This article explains DMAIC processes, DMAIC models, DMAIC phases, and the impact of DMAIC. We’ll also share a Lean Six Sigma program that helps professionals learn how to utilize this method.

So, what’s DMAIC, anyway?

What is DMAIC?

DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It is a problem-solving and quality improvement methodology businesses use to improve performance. It’s a customer-focused, structured approach that also serves as a foundation for Lean Six Sigma.

Business improvement happens during the DMAIC process by taking things project by project. In this context, projects are defined as problems scheduled for solutions. The whole point of the DMAIC process is to introduce structure to problem-solving.

Some people like to shorten the term and pronounce DMIAC as “de-may-ick,” while others say “duh-may-ick.” Either way, the pronunciation issue is another example of “po-tay-to” versus “po-tah-to.”

Now, look at the classic DMAIC template based on its established steps.

Note: An effective Six Sigma Project Charter should clearly define project goals, scope, timeline, and team roles, providing a roadmap for success and effective stakeholder communication.

Also Read: What Is Process Capability and Why It’s More Interesting Than It Sounds

The DMAIC Model and its Phases

Here’s where we break down the DMAIC methodology into its distinct phases. This setup is the basis for every DMAIC template used to solve problems and improve efficiency.

Define

The team asks, “What problem are we trying to fix?” In this first stage of the DMAIC model, Six Sigma professionals state the issue, specify the customers, outline the process, and set goals. We can subdivide this phase into:

  • Identify the problem, also known as an opportunity for improvement
  • Delineate the project’s scope
  • Develop the client’s requirements
  • Estimate the project’s impact
  • Identify the project’s stakeholders
  • Create the team

Measure

The team asks, “How big of an issue is this, and how does the process currently perform?” In the Measure stage, the team quantifies parameters, decides how best to measure them, gathers pertinent data, and performs the measuring by experimentation. We break down this phase as follows:

  • Develop data collection methods
  • Identify the input, processes, and output indicators
  • Collect and analyze the current data
  • Perform and finish failure modes and effects analysis

Analyze

This step concerns one simple question, “What is causing the issue?” The team identifies the gaps between the desired and actual performance, determines what is causing the gaps, ascertains how process inputs affect the outputs, and ranks or prioritizes improvement opportunities. We break down the Analyze phase as follows:

  • Develop the problem statement
  • Write a root cause analysis
  • Implement process control
  • Create necessary measurable improvement experiments
  • Figure out an improvement plan, sometimes called a “goal statement.”

Improve

Now we ask, “How will the project team address the root causes of the issue?” The Analyze phase identifies the issue, and the Improve phase prompts us to take action. This phase is where the team devises potential solutions, recognizes the solutions most accessible to put into action, tests likely hypothetical solutions, and then implements actual improvements:

  • Discuss and generate ideas for solutions
  • Determine the expected benefits of the solutions
  • Develop a revised process map and related plan
  • Define a pilot solution and plan
  • Relay the answers to stakeholders

Control

And finally, there is one question left, “How do we sustain the improvements?” The team must devise a detailed solution monitoring plan, watch implemented improvements for success, regularly update the plan’s records, and sustain a workable employee training process. Control is broken down into:

  • Verify that failure incidents have been reduced
  • Determine if additional improvements will be needed to meet the goal
  • Identify and document the new work standards and procedures
  • Integrate the latest strategies and share the learning experience with the appropriate parties

Although teams use the DMAIC model for Six Sigma, it shouldn’t be confused with a similar Six Sigma process known as Sigma DMADV. DMADV is an acronym standing for “define, measure, analyze, design, verify.” The Six Sigma team applies these steps to new processes to ensure they achieve the desired Six Sigma quality standards.

Note: The Central Limit Theorem is a fundamental concept in statistics. It states that the means of many independent and identically distributed random variables will be approximately normally distributed.

Also Read: Demystifying the Theory of Constraints

DMAIC Tools per Phase

There are tools that teams should use to carry out each DMAIC process phase. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Define

  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Collect the customer’s voice using the VOC matrix
  • Translate the voice of the customer to critical to quality (CTQ). In other words, get customer feedback and see how it translates into expectations, preferences, and dislikes.
  • SIPOC diagrams/high-level process maps.

Measure

  • 6S
  • Data Collection Plan
  • Detailed Process Mapping
  • Juran’s Pareto Analysis
  • Value Stream Maps

Analyze

  • Why Analysis
  • Box Plots
  • Brainstorming
  • Calculating Sigma Level
  • Cause and Effect Diagrams
  • Failure Mode and Effect Analysis
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Histograms
  • Scatter Diagrams
  • Impact Control Matrix
  • Stratification

Improve

  • Barriers and Aids Chart
  • Benchmarking
  • Brainstorming
  • Mistake Proofing
  • Pilot Study
  • Pugh Matrix
  • Solution Matrix.

Control

  • Control Charts
  • Process Control Plan

The Impact of the DMAIC Model

The DMAIC model is a game-changer, a valuable framework for any organization that wants to reduce waste, improve efficiency, deal with problems, and improve customer relations. Here is how the DMAIC methodology delivers a positive impact.

1) It ensures that quality thinking becomes the default way of conducting business, focusing on customers and building and sustaining customer loyalty.

2) It applies recognizable and effective quality tools to improve the organization’s goods and services and help the company achieve breakthrough performances.

3) It defines quality process performance metrics, tying them to the organization’s goals.

4) It creates a culture centered on quality that is also fun and offers a practical, measurable, and pragmatic means of achieving greater process quality levels.

5) It identifies the projects needed to drive improvements that yield sustainable results and superior quality.

The DMAIC methodology is a roadmap that keeps the team and the project moving forward efficiently. Some Six Sigma professionals refer to DMAIC as the “boss of the project” because the team’s leader, although in charge, still follows the outlined steps to complete the project and ensures that everyone on the team does so. If the team omits a step, it could prevent a business from wasting resources, devising ineffective solutions, and causing unnecessary negative culture issues.

Why Use the DMAIC Process and When Should You Use It?

Although the DMAIC process is helpful, it only fits some situations. That’s why most organizations take the extra step of determining why they think DMAIC is the correct methodology. This additional step is called “recognize.”

When evaluating the whys of the DMAIC process, consider these three factors:

  • The existing process has apparent inefficiencies and defects
  • There is a reasonable probability of reducing variables like lead times or other flaws while improving variables such as productivity or cost savings
  • The condition is assessable; outcomes can be appropriately understood through quantifiable means.

If the above three factors apply to your situation, use DMAIC.

The Benefits of DMAIC

DMAIC offers benefits such as:

  • Faster cycle times
  • Improved collaboration
  • Support for a culture of improvement.
  • Greater impact from improvement measures.

The Differences Between DMAIC and DMADV

Both DMAIC and DMADV are part of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy. The chief difference between DMAIC and DMADV is that DMAIC improves existing processes, and DMADV emphasizes developing new processes, services, or products. So, DMAIC measures a process’s performance, while DMADV measures customer needs and specifications. Furthermore, DMADV develops business models to satisfy customer requirements, and DMAIC focuses on improving business processes by reducing and eliminating defects.

Long story short: use DMADV when launching new products or features, and use DMAIC when enhancing or improving existing products, processes, and services.

The Differences Between DMAIC and PDCA

The main difference between DMAIC and PDCA is that the former represents a data-driven improvement approach to improving, enhancing, and stabilizing business processes through five stages: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Meanwhile, PDCA is a repetitive four-stage model: Plan, Do, Check, and Act, which is implemented to achieve continuous improvement in business process management.

The PDCA approach is mainly used in Lean, while DMAIC is widely utilized in Six Sigma. Also, DMAIC uses advanced statistical resources, while PDCA relies on more straightforward, simple tools.

Now, let’s check out some DMAIC examples.

Examples of DMAIC Usage

DMAIC can be used in many different industries and situations. For example:

  • Evidence-Based Care Affecting Hospital Outcomes. Infections are a massive concern in hospitals, so a process like DMAIC can be used to define the problem, measure the current rate of infections, determine the underlying causes, implement a series of measures to combat infections, train and reinforce the culture among the staff, and report the successful results.
  • Improving a Manufacturing Shop Floor’s Yield. Here, we’re looking at a repetitive manufacturing process. The goal is to enhance the yield. First, identify the products in question and the goals. Next, define the metrics used in the process and gather the needed data. Then, analyze the data for trends, deviations, and outliers. Once the issues have been identified, define and install countermeasures to answer the problems. Then, implement the measures to sustain improved performance. And finally, apply the process to future machines and products.

Also Read: Value Stream Mapping in Six Sigma

How Do You Use the DMAIC Model in Six Sigma?

So, how do we use the DMAIC template? An organization should follow four easy steps to implement DMAIC and start seeing positive results.

1) Training. Begin your organization’s DMAIC journey by training your team in the DMAIC methodology and how you expect it to be employed. Place a strong emphasis on the model’s data collection characteristics. After all, knowledge is power.

2) Line up your support and DMAIC tools. Since the DMAIC model is strongly associated with Lean Six Sigma, it’s not surprising that many Lean Six Sigma tools are compatible with the DMAIC life cycle. These tools include the Five Whys, fishbone diagrams, control charts, and Catchball. Decide which tools your team can use and how they will be shared and documented. Use improvement management to store all your DMAIC-related documents and progress notes.

3) Provide examples. Prevent confusion and reinforce DMAIC understanding by providing your team with examples of new or existing processes within your company that can benefit the most from DMAIC implementation. People typically grasp things faster and better if given practical application examples. Once everyone on the team understands how DMAIC can be used, create an atmosphere where it’s easy for the team members to suggest process improvement opportunities.

4) Initiate a pilot project. Now that you have gotten this far and laid the groundwork, it’s time to take DMAIC out for a quick spin. Pilot projects are initial, small-scale tests that show how the full-scale project will work in practice. So, pick a simple project that draws in people from multiple teams. This exercise helps test cross-team cooperation and collaboration, an essential element in future projects. Then, carefully monitor every cycle step and ensure each step is complete before moving on to the next.

Do You Want to Learn About Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a proven methodology that helps businesses reach their full potential and remain relevant in today’s highly competitive marketplace. If you’re intrigued by Six Sigma and want to learn more, Simplilearn, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, offers a post graduate program in Six Sigma training that will sharpen your skills.

When you attend the program’s live interactive classes and work on real-world business problems via case studies and projects, you will pick up valuable Six Sigma skills like:

  • Agile Management
  • Digital Transformation
  • Lean Management
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Minitab
  • Quality Management

Every course is aligned with IASSC-Lean Six Sigma and features real-world case studies and a capstone project that provides you with the real-world experience you need to master Six Sigma. Additionally, graduates earn certificates and membership in the UMass Amherst Alumni Association.

According to Salary.com, the median salary for Green Belt Lean Six Sigma professionals working in the United States is $115,800 and ranges over $128K at the high mark. So, whether you want to start a new career in Six Sigma or just upskill to enhance your skill set, this post-graduate program will undoubtedly provide you with the valuable Six Sigma training that today’s business world wants in its new candidates. Sign up today!

FAQ

Q: What does DMAIC mean in Six Sigma?

A: DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

Q: What is the DMAIC process used for?

A: The DMAIC process is a data-driven process improvement cycle that aims to optimize, improve, and stabilize business designs and processes.

Q: How does Six Sigma use DMAIC?

A: DMAIC is a problem-solving approach that drives Lean Six Sigma. DMAIC’s five-phase method, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, improves existing process problems with unknown causes.

Q: What are the DMAIC tools?

A: DMAIC tools are, by phase:

  • Define Phase: Project Charters, SIPOC Diagrams
  • Measure Phase: Data Collection Plans, Process Mapping
  • Analyze Phase: Cause-and-Effect Diagrams, Pareto Charts, Hypothesis Testing
  • Improve Phase: Brainstorming, Design of Experiments (DOE)
  • Control Phase: Control Charts, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Q: What is the benefit of DMAIC?

A: DMAIC offers benefits such as:

  • Faster cycle times
  • Improved collaboration
  • Support for a culture of improvement
  • Greater impact from improvement measures

You might also like to read:

Demystifying Kaizen Lean Six Sigma

A Deep Dive Into the Five Phases of Lean Six Sigma

Ultimate Guide to Six Sigma Control Charts

DMADV: Everything You Need to Know

Describing a SIPOC Diagram: Everything You Should Know About It

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