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The DMAIC Process: Methodology Guide

The DMAIC process is one of the most effective structural methods that manufacturing and production companies can use to find the root cause of a problem in a process, while eliminating errors and bottlenecks along the way. Read this article to learn more.

What is DMAIC?

In a manufacturing industry or a production company, situations and circumstances can lead to a decline in productivity output. Various scenarios, like wrong equipment handling, deteriorated machine performance or employee incompetency, can decrease qualitative processes’ production.

To eradicate problems in a company’s flowchart, you must find the root cause and unravel the faulty areas in the flowchart. Doing this will demand you collect necessary data, measure them, and implement new changes for an improved system. To be able to do all this seamlessly, Six sigma presents a data-driven process called DMAIC.

DMAIC is an acronym for Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It is a five interconnected step-by-step processes for problem-solving, improvement, and root cause analysis in an existing business process. This step-by-step process is one of the business improved methodologies etched into the concept of “Six Sigma,” a total quality management benchmark founded by Motorola engineer Bill Smith in 1986.

It’s among the many principles used for critical business quality control in many organizations today. The DMAIC process aims to assess a business or manufacturing process and cut out every element that makes it inefficient or less quantifiable or qualitative.

DMAIC uses data from the performance of workers and machinery and other related factors that make a business process function. By carefully analyzing and measuring these data, one can identify waste times and spot areas of improvement. DMAIC also emphasizes the standardization of a new, improved process and ensuring it is effective over time. Different tools are available for each step in the DMAIC process that helps to make the application of these processes seamless. We’ll look into them as we go further into this article.

In this article, we’ll discuss the following:

1. What Should You Know Before Starting DMAIC

2. The five stages of DMAIC

3. The Importance of DMAIC methodology

4. Some of DMAIC Tools

What Should You Know Before Starting DMAIC

DMAIC is a process improvement effort to boost businesses by making them more productive, effective, and efficient. However, your chances of success are only high when you select a good project.

Project selection is imperative because when you choose a process improvement opportunity with the most significant impact and the most manageable effort while still aligning with organizational strategy, DMAIC works seamlessly. When selecting a business project to tackle with the DMAIC methodology, consider the following requirements:

  • The business project you aim to improve should present an existing process with an obvious problem. The issues with the current process could be more than one, but these issues must be clear to every member on board.
  • When choosing a business project to handle, consider the benefits of sacrificing resources and efforts for it. Will the project prove very impactful or will it be hard to handle? Keep in mind that the project or process you’re working on should be meaningful and manageable.
  • Make sure that the business process has the potential to improve and turn out products for a long time. The DMAIC process will only work on processes that have faults, defects, waste times, and bottlenecks.
  • Check if you can collect statistical data about the process. Collecting and analyzing data can help you achieve measured improvement.

After choosing the best project for you and your improvement team, you can now use the DMAIC methodology to analyze, collect data and solve inherent problems in your business process effortlessly.

The Five Stages In The DMAIC Process

1. DEFINE

The first stage of the DMAIC methodology begins with discovering everything there is to know about the current problem in an existing process. This phase also entails building on enough knowledge about the process by identifying its problem, noting customers’ impact, communicating with process participants, and conducting process walks.

To do this, the business process or project team plots a high-level map that widely outlines the business needs and problems. In this stage, the team members also draft a project charter to clarify the following:

  • Problem statement: This refers to the problem of an existing process. The project charter outlines all obvious problems by measuring the statistical data of the existing process. In this phase, questions like these should be answered:
    1. When and where do the problem occur?
    2. What is wrong, not working and not meeting our customers’ needs?
    3. What is the business and financial impact of the problem?
  • Business case: The project charter also outlines the business reason for doing the project. The reason is outlined for whether the company wants to improve its productivity or reduce cycle times and waste. Team members should answer questions like:
    1. What is the worth of the project?
    2. Why is it important to do it now?
    3. What are the consequences of not doing the project?
    4. How does the project fit with business initiatives and targets?
  • Goal progress: This refers to the target of the process. The project charter outlines what a process hopes to achieve in the long run.
  • Timeline: The time it will take to conduct each phase of the DMAIC methodology is also outlined.
  • Scope: The project charter also outlines what will be included in the project and what will be cut out from it.
  • Team members: Finally, the required number of participants needed to run the process, or business project is outlined.

2. MEASURE

This is the phase of DMAIC where the progress or performance of the current business process is measured by collecting and gathering data. In the measuring phase, the following task is hierarchically accomplished:

  • Determine how the current process performs: Before considering the implementation of changes to a current business process, the management team must first establish the current state of the process’s performance. It’s important because the result of the process performance in the ‘measure phase’ is compared with the ‘improve phase’ to ascertain any actual improvement.
  • Creating a data collection plan: Once the process baseline performance is ascertained, the management team must consider collecting accurate data from the critical areas. Good and accurate data gathered supports better decision-making.
  • Making sure the data is reliable: To completely refine and improve a process, critical information must be attained. Most importantly, the information collected must be based on facts and tests rather than opinions and assumptions.
  • Updating the project charter: After the team makes an effort to gather baseline data and the performance data of the current process, the collected data is added to and used to refine the project charter, making it reflect the goals and problems of the process accurately.

3. ANALYZE

The ‘analyze phase’ of DMAIC methodology deals with finding the root cause of every obvious problem available in a business process. The root cause is what is causing the problem or problems in a process. The project team usually analyzes the root cause by analyzing the process map and the data collected in the ‘measure phase.’

After thorough analysis, you should be able to identify root causes of defects, high cycle times, waste, and improvement opportunities. You’ll be able to identify the shortfalls between the current performance of the process and the expected performance. The following steps are the critical tasks to achieve in this phase:

  • Performing an RCA (Root Cause Analysis), which includes change analysis, event and causal factor analysis, and the Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving and Decision Making model.
  • Identifying all areas of inefficiency, flaws, and shortcomings by doing a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA).
  • Using a multi-vari chart to visualize the variations in a given business process.
  • Implementing process control and developing a plan for process improvement.

4. IMPROVE

After collecting tangible, accurate, relevant data, performing analysis, and structuring an improvement plan, you can implement these ideas. This phase emphasizes the need to start making improvements which might involve proper follow-through and intelligent decision-making to implement the changes in the best way manageable. This stage includes the following activities:

  • Brainstorming: In this phase of DMAIC methodology, this refers to the act of pondering the best possible ways to implement an improvement plan. The team members can come together to exchange ideas and decide the best and easiest solution to implement.
  • Developing a DOE (Design of Experiments) to measure the expected benefits and consequences of a solution or improvement plan.
  • Revise the process map and data collected in the previous phases of the DMAIC methodology.
  • Establish a test solution and a plan.
  • Implement quality control systems like Kaizen to improve the process.
  • Carrying all members and stakeholders along with any change or improvement made in the process.

In this stage, the project or business process management team can decide to use business improvement systems to be able to achieve cross-functional collaboration and increased productivity and quality output seamlessly. With a business improvement management system, everyone will be able to keep up with the progress of the DMAIC methodology.

5. CONTROL

After implementing necessary changes to a business process, it’s not enough that it succeeds; you’ll need to ensure it stays effective for an extended period. This will ensure that your processes don’t break down unexpectedly. In this phase is where you’ll need to:

  • Document the standard of the new process to ensure that it stays open and understood by every member of the team.
  • Come up with a consistent quality plan and ensure every team member is working in alienation with the required metrics and standards.
  • Confirm that your implementation plan has caused a decline in failures such as defects.
  • Monitor your process execution and identify any arising issue with the use of SPC (Statistical Process Control).
  • Check if additional improvement needs to be made to the new process. If there is any, note them down and notify all member of the execution before implementing them.
  • Streamline the process using the lean 5S System and note every lesson. Also, communicate these lessons to members of the team.

After completing the five phases of the DMAIC methodology, you can now begin to quantify the results in terms of cost reduction, efficiency, productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Manufacturing company worker surrounded by smoke

Why DMAIC Methodology Is Important

When a business organization or a production company plans to increase its general quality, it makes sure to focus on all areas of the business organization, from the production process to resources, supply, and equipment proficiency.

One of the most pertinent approaches to building a clear path to success and improvement in business processes is adequate data collection. By analyzing, measuring, and interpreting data, you’ll be able to come up with corrective ideas to improve your business. DMAIC presents a very structured methodology to handle this problem.

The simple but highly structured process of DMAIC makes it easy to streamline your actions and seamlessly eliminate errors and faults in your process. Not only does it allow business organizations to manage their actions in a structured way, but they’ll also be able to hone their problem-solving skills and increase productivity. It’s also possible to use the data collected from DMAIC results to guide processes in other projects in the same organization.

DMAIC is a very intuitive tool for business process improvement. It doesn’t matter what kind of project you’re working on- as long as it’s good and for customer satisfaction and business initiatives, DMAIC methodology will always prove helpful.

A List Of Some Tools Used In Implementing DMAIC methodology

Some of the most commonly used DMAIC tools

  • Project Charter- ‘define phase’
  • Control Chart- ‘measure and control phase’
  • Histogram- ‘measure phase’
  • Pareto Chart- ‘measure phase’
  • Fishbone Diagram- ‘analyze phase’
  • 5 Whys- ‘analyze phase’
  • Countermeasures Matrix- ‘improve phase’
  • Action Plan- ‘improve phase’
  • Control Chart- ‘control phase’

Some other less frequently used DMAIC tools

  • Critical to Quality (CTQ) Measures
  • Flowchart
  • Gantt Chart
  • SIPOC Diagram
  • Box and Whisker Plot
  • Multi-vari Chart
  • Scatter Plot
  • Checksheet
  • Cause/Effect Matrix
  • Design of Experiments

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