Define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) is an essential methodology for quality management and process improvement. Quality Management and continuous improvement professionals use the DMAIC Process to improve the business processes of their organizations and deliver products and services that meet the pre-defined quality standards. Each letter in the acronym of DMAIC represents the phases of quality and process improvement. Initially used in the Six Sigma methodology and Lean methodology, the DMAIC methodology has become a vital part of the Lean Six Sigma methodology.
Significance of the DMAIC Process
The process improvement methodology of DMAIC is used by organizations that are trying to improve their business processes by reducing waste and delivering “quality” products and services to their customers. This results in organizations successfully meeting their customers’ requirements and increasing their revenue as well. The DMAIC methodology also ensures that organizations save their valuable investment and time by eliminating overproduction and defects in the business processes. Therefore, customers of the organizations pay for products and services that meet the quality standards approved by them and the organization.
Although the DMAIC process is a standalone methodology, it is usually used in conjunction with other prominent quality management methodologies like Six Sigma, Lean, and Lean Six Sigma. The methodology of Lean Six Sigma combines the methodologies of Six Sigma and Lean and utilizes the five phases of DMAIC in quality improvement projects. These projects are short-term and aim to find the solution to the problems that the organizations are facing in terms of process improvement, reduction of waste or defects, and customer satisfaction. Each quality improvement project is led by a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt professional who collaborates with the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt professionals to finish the project on time. The Lean Six Sigma project leader assigns the tasks required to complete the project to the team of Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt professionals.
DMAIC Methodology of Lean Six Sigma
The five phases of the Lean Six Sigma methodology help quality management professionals identify the problem, test the performance, evaluate the solution, implement strategy, and sustain them using quality management tools. These quality improvements and quality control tools are used in various phases of the DMAIC methodology. Quality management professionals solve complex problems and improve the performance of the business processes of their organizations by following the DMAIC process.
In the first phase of the DMAIC methodology, the quality management project team defines the problem the organization wants to be solved. It is defined in the project charter and provides the project team with the guideline that they need to follow to achieve project success. The define phase uses various tools and techniques, they are as follows:
- Stakeholder Analysis to understand the objectives of the stakeholders of the organization
- Voice of the Customer Matrix to understand the customer requirements
- High-level process mapping through the SIPOC diagram
- Value Stream Map to review the entire business process
This next phase in the DMAIC process involves measuring the current performance of the business process. Here the information about the problem is collected and interpreted to re-define the problem statement. The tools and techniques used during the measure phase are as follows:
- Process Mapping to record and measure all the activities involved in the business process
- Pareto Analysis and using the Pareto chart to analyze the frequency of the problem or defect in the business process
- Capability Analysis to measure the ability of the current process to meet the required objectives of the organization
- Data collection and sampling
The data that is collected during the measure phase of the DMAIC methodology is analyzed during this phase. This assists the quality management project team to evaluate the root cause of the problem. It helps the team identify the exact cause of variation and defects. Analyze phase uses the following tools and techniques:
- Fishbone Diagram for Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
- FMEA or Failure Mode and Effect Analysis for finding the potential causes for process or product failures
- 5 Why Analysis and Hypothesis Testing
- Graphs and charts like Histograms, Stratification, Scatter Diagrams, Box Plots, and Impact Control Matrix
The solution for the problem is defined and implemented in the improve phase of the DMAIC process. The process and quality improvement team will generate ideas to solve the problem, prove the effectiveness of the solution, and implement the solution. This solution should be able to eliminate or minimize the variation or defects the organization is facing in its business processes. Here are the tools and techniques used in the improve phase:
- Creating Kaizen Event and using Kanban to manage and monitor the workflow
- Through DOE (Design of Experiments) to solve complex problems with multiple solutions
- Solution Matrix, Barriers and Aids Chart
- Brainstorming and communicating with the subject matter experts
This is the final phase of the DMAIC methodology where the process improvement solutions are monitored and controlled. The process improvement and quality management project team ensure that the problems do not recur and that the productivity is increased. The control phase includes the following tools and techniques:
- Using Control Charts and Quality Control Plan
- 5S for monitoring the workflow
- Mistake Proofing using Poke-Yoke to test errors and rectify them immediately
- Statistical Process Control or SPC to monitor process behavior
The data-driven methodology of DMAIC provides effective process improvement and quality management strategies and solutions. Lean Six Sigma professionals having the prestigious Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certifications to their name have a deep understanding of the DMAIC methodology. These quality management professionals use their knowledge and expertise in using the DMAIC Process and the various quality management tools involved in the process to transform the business processes of their organizations. Aspiring quality management and process improvement professionals can use the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification Trainings to gain an in-depth understanding of the DMAIC methodology and use them in practice.