The DMAIC model remains the roadmap for most Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma quality improvement projects. It is used the deliver quality results and ensures a robust problem-solving process is followed. The letters DMAIC are short for: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. Albert Einstein
The KEY PHASES of the DMAIC MODEL
The phases throughout the DMAIC model have and can be broken down in many different ways. One of the best approaches we have found is from Opex Resources.
THE “DEFINE” PHASE
The purpose of the Define phase is ultimately to describe the problems that need to be solved and for the key business decision-makers to be aligned on the goal of the project.
An outcome of the Define stage is a clear Project Charter that gains project approval. The project charter identifies:
- Define the Business Case
- Understand the Consumer
- Define The Process
- Manage the Project
- Gain Project Approval
THE “MEASURE” PHASE
In the measure phase, the goal is to collect the relevant information to baseline the current performance of the product or the process. In this stage, we want to identify the level of “defects” or the errors that go wrong and use the baseline to measure our progress throughout the project.
The Measure phase can be broken down into 5 key areas.
- Develop Process Measures
- Collect Process Data
- Check the Data Quality
- Understand Process Behaviour
- Baseline Process Capability and Potential
The ANALYSE PHASE
The goal of the Analyse phase is to identify which process inputs or parameters have the most critical effect on the outputs. In other words, we want to identify the root cause(s) so that we know what critical elements we need to fix.
The Analyse phase can be broken down into:
- Analyse the Process
- Develop Theories and Ideas
- Analyse the Data
- and finally, Verify Root Causes
THE IMPROVE PHASE:
The goal of the improve phase is to find the right solution which addresses the key root causes. It is not about identifying one solution but identifying all the possible solutions and then selecting the best one.
The Improve phase can be broken down into:
- Generate Potential Solutions
- Select the Best Solution
- Assess the Risks
- Pilot and Implement
THE CONTROL PHASE:
The final part of the DMAIC Model is the Control phase where we need to ensure that the new changes become business as normal and we also review the project success.
The Control phase can be broken down into:
- Implement Ongoing Measurements
- Standardise Solutions
- Quantify the Improvement
- Close The Project
The key closing documents of the Control Phase is a Control Plan that documents all the changes and process steps with key risks, standard work instructions and the Project Close-Out document signed by the business owners to accept the change and the validated benefits.
THE DMAIC MODEL VS A3 MANAGEMENT VS 8D
The DMAIC model is not the only project management roadmap. Two others which are important is the A3 format which originally comes from Toyota and is very Lean focused and the 8D which draws more of the DMAIC structure but with the 1-page idea of the A3.
Everyone has there own preference but each method is interchangeable. The DMAIC Structure lends its self naturally to a multi-slide Powerpoint presentation. Whereas the A3 is a single-page document which is perfect for internal communication and adding into War Rooms and Control Towers.
What’s important is that every problem-solving approach follows the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act) Scientific Problem Solving format. The reset is just a preference or using the right tool in the right circumstances.
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