Today’s forward-thinking businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve. That’s a prudent strategy, given our current commercial atmosphere of increased competition and economic uncertainty. 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.
So, what’s DMAIC, anyway?
What is DMAIC All About?
DMAIC is an acronym standing for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, a problem-solving and quality improvement methodology that businesses use to improve their 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 project success and effective communication among stakeholders.
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.
The team asks, “What’s the problem we’re 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:
1) Identify the problem, also known as an opportunity for improvement
2) Delineate the project’s scope
3) Develop the client’s requirements
4) Estimate the project’s impact
5) Identify the project’s stakeholders
6) Create the team
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 and decides how best to measure them, gather pertinent data, and perform the measuring by experimentation. We break down this phase as:
1) Develop data collection methods
2) Identify the input, processes, and output indicators
3) Collect and analyze the current data
4) Perform and finish failure modes and effects analysis
This step boils down to 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 rank or prioritizes improvement opportunities. We break down the Analyze phase as follows:
1) Develop the problem statement
2) Write a root cause analysis
3) Implement process control
4) Create necessary measurable improvement experiments
5) Figure out an improvement plan, sometimes called a “goal statement.”
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 for what actions to take. This phase is where the team devises potential solutions, identifies the solutions most accessible to put into action, tests likely hypothetical solutions, then implements actual improvements. The Improve phase breaks down as follows:
1) Discuss and generate ideas for solutions
2) Determine the expected benefits of the solutions
3) Develop a revised process map and related plan
4) Define a pilot solution and plan
5) Relay the answers to stakeholders
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:
1) Verify that failure incidents have been reduced
2) Determine if additional improvements will be needed to meet the goal
3) Identify and document the new work standards and procedures
4) 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 of “define, measure, analyze, design, verify.” The Six Sigma team applies these steps to new processes to ensure that they achieve desired Six Sigma quality standards.
Note: The Central Limit Theorem is a fundamental concept in statistics, stating that the means of a large number of independent and identically distributed random variables will be approximately normally distributed.
DMAIC Tools per Phase
There are tools that teams should use to carry out each DMAIC phase. Here’s a quick breakdown.
1) Stakeholder analysis
2) Collect the voice of the customer using the VOC matrix
3) 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.
4) SIPOC diagrams/high-level process maps
2) Data Collection Plan
3) Detailed Process Mapping
4) Juran’s Pareto Analysis
5) Value Stream Maps
1) Why Analysis
2) Box Plots
4) Calculating Sigma Level
5) Cause and Effect Diagrams
6) Failure Mode and Effect Analysis
7) Graphs and Charts
9) Scatter Diagrams
10) Impact Control Matrix
1) Barriers and Aids Chart
4) Mistake Proofing
5) Pilot Study
6) Pugh Matrix
7) Solution Matrix
1) Control Charts
2) 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 to 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 will eventually yield sustainable results and superior quality.
The DMAIC methodology is a roadmap that keeps both the team and the project efficiently moving forward. 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 successfully complete the project and ensures that everyone on the team does so too. If the team omits a step, it could prevent a business from wasting resources, devising ineffective solutions, and causing unnecessary negative culture issues.
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 data collection characteristics of the model. 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 used to show how the full-scale project will work in practice. So, pick a simple project to start with, ideally a 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 keep them relevant in today’s highly competitive marketplace. If you’re intrigued by Six Sigma and want to learn more, UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management offers a post-graduate program in Six Sigma training that will crank up your Six Sigma 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:
1) Agile Management
2) Digital Transformation
3) Lean Management
4) Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
5) Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
7) 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 $112,100 and ranges over $124K 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!