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DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

published on January 30, 2012

DMAIC is a staple of Six Sigma methodology and like all things Six Sigma, the better your understanding of the tool the greater its abilities. So just what is DMAIC? Basically it’s a problem solving tool, what is great about it is that it specifically works with unknowns and teaches your staff how to use a lack of information to their advantage.

What is DMAIC?

Define:  This is where you will put in the most work, because at this stage you will be setting the ground work for all of your changes. You will need to define everything here, specifically critical to quality variables and identified process problems.

Measure: Collect information and review data. The catch to this step is to ensure that your measurement systems are substantiated. When using measurements you will need to ensure that they are measuring specific data and that the measured data aligns with your organization’s goals. Not sure how to do this?  Have a conversation with your belt and your executive team; they will point you in the right direction.

Analyze:  In this step you will be asking your staff to study the relationship between processes and qualify their impact on the quality of your products or services. Ideally you will want knowledgeable staff involved in this process, but how do you start and what do you do? Talk to your belt, they can guide you effectively and easily through this process.

Improve: This is the area that will allow you to humanize 6Sigma from your staff by focusing less on measurements and more on innovation. You should be looking for suggestions and then moving on to a process of elimination. This is an area where I like to implement ‘dry runs’ of the solution to show me where the process improvements are realistic and where they are not.

Control:  This is one of the most important parts of the process, but it can only occur once the other steps have been completed.  Failure to complete the previous steps guarantees that you will be perfecting the wrong change. In this step, the devil is very much in the details. You must be vigilant and flexible; your belt will help you put together the best control strategy for your organization.

DMAIC is all about making a change work for your organization. You don’t have to produce complicated charts and statistics for it to work for your organization, but you do have to understand how it works. Although this is a simple summary, there is enough information to get started. When you are ready to get down to detail and create a DMAIC strategy, SPC can help.

published on January 30, 2012

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