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DMAIC Model Problem Solving

DMAIC Model | The 5 Phase DMAIC Process to Problem-Solving

Summary: An Introduction to DMAIC


The DMAIC Problem Solving Approach is a process improvement methodology based on the Six Sigma approach that helps to improve business processes and products. It is used to identify, analyze, and solve existing processes that are inefficient or ineffective. The approach breaks down into five phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. Each phase builds upon the previous one to identify potential solutions for the problem at hand. With this method, organizations can focus on eliminating waste and defects while improving customer satisfaction and profitability.

DMAIC – The DMAIC Model

 

The 6 Sigma DMAIC model remains the core roadmap for almost all Lean Six Sigma problem-solving approaches that drive quality improvement projects. It is used to ensure a robust problem-solving process is followed to give the best chance of the best solution being found.

A note about the structure and the approach used in this article.

Our approach to DMAIC follows Quentin Brook’s book “Lean Six Sigma & Minitab” which for anyone wishing to study Lean Six Sigma is a must for the Green Belt Course and the Black Belt Course.

What is the DMAIC Model?

 

DMAIC is short for: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control. These are the key phases that each project must go through to find the right solution. This flow is the concept behind DMAIC Analysis of an issue and its the DMAIC cycle all projects must go through.

As you can quickly see from the 5 DMAIC phases they follow a logical sequence as we will go through in more detail below. But they also make sure you do not try to jump to implementing a solution before you have properly, defined and measured what you are going to be an improvement.

We all love to jump to solutions, but the DMAIC problem-solving structure helps us have a more rigorous approach so that we do not short cut the process and perhaps miss the best solution or perhaps implement the wrong solution as well. It can help companies better structure their problem-solving approaches and be more robust in their approach. 

The DMAIC Model and Process
DMAIC Methodology Overview

DMAIC – The 5 DMAIC Process Phases

 

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 which shows how to examine the existing processes, and with a project team, and the sigma improvement process, we can solve complex issues.

DMAIC 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. Its about creating and agreeing the project charter.

All too often, teams have identified solutions without actually defining what it is they will actually be trying to do or perhaps not do. This can lead to internal confusion and often solutions which completely miss the business requirements and needs.

An outcome of the Define stage is a clear Project Charter that gains project approval. The Define Phase can be broken down into 5 key areas:
  • Define the Business Case
  • Understand the Consumer
  • Define The Process
  • Manage the Project
  • Gain Project Approval

DMAIC 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 key goal of this phase is to have a very strong and clear measure/baseline of how things are performing today so that we can always monitor our progress towards our goals. We need to understand our cycle times, process times, quality metrics.

Many projects are delivered without clear benefits being shown because the team never fully baseline the current status before making changes.

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
 

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DMAIC Analyse Phase


The goal of the DMAIC Analyse phase with the lean six sigma improvement process 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.


During this phase, the teams need to explore all potential root causes using both analytical approaches, statistical approaches or even graphical tools such as VSM’s and Process maps to uncover the most important elements which need to be changed/fixed.

The Analyse phase can be broken down into:

  • Analyse the Process
  • Develop Theories and Ideas
  • Analyse the Data
  • and finally, Verify Root Causes 

DMAIC Improve Phase

  

The goal of the improvement phase is to identify a wide range of potential solutions before identifying the critical solutions which will give us the maximum return for our investment and directly fix the root cause we identified.

During this phase, the team brainstorm, pilot, test and validate potential improvement ideas before finally implementing the right solutions. With each pilot, the team can validate how well it improves the key measures they identified back in Define and Measure. When the team finally roll out the solution, the results should be seen if the right solution has been found and implemented correctly.

The Improve phase can be broken down into:

  • Generate Potential Solutions
  • Select the Best Solution
  • Assess the Risks
  • Pilot and Implement

DMAIC 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 do not revert to the same way of working as before.

During this phase, we want to ensure that we close the project off by validating the project savings and ensuring the new process is correctly documented. We also need to make sure that new measures and process KPI’s are in place and, finally that we get the business champion to sign off on both the project and the savings. We may need to redesign the workplace following the 5S principles.

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.

Our approach to DMAIC follows Quentin Brook’s book “Lean Six Sigma & Minitab” which for anyone wishing to study Lean Six Sigma is a must for the Green Belt Course and the Black Belt Course.

The DMAIC Model vs. A3 Management vs. 8D Problem Solving

 

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 their 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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