The DMAIC: Classic Six Sigma Problem-Solving Process

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The DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) is the classic Six Sigma problem-solving process. Traditionally, the approach is to be applied to a problem with an existing, steady-state process or product and/or service offering.
The DMAIC approach is designed to allow for flexibility and iterative work, if necessary. As more is learned through the 5-phase process, assumptions or hypotheses as to the root cause of the problem may be disproved, requiring the project team to revisit them and modify or to explore alternative possibilities. For example, root cause to a sales force effectiveness issue may have been hypothesized as a sales training problem in a specific geographic region. Rather than jumping to conclusions without facts by implementing
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Steps generally are sequential; however, some activities from various steps may occur concurrently or may be iterative. Deliverables for a given step must be completed prior to formal gate review approval. Step Reviews do occur sequentially. The DMAIC five phases are

What problem would you like to fix? The Define Phase is the first phase of the Six Sigma improvement process. In this phase, the leaders of the project create a “Project Charter”, create a high-level view of the process, and begin to understand the needs of the customers of the process. This is a critical phase of Six Sigma in which your teams define the outline of their efforts for themselves and the executives of organization.
• Define the Problem.
• Define the problem by developing a “Problem Statement”.
• Define the voice of customer(VOC) and Critical to Quality(CTQ)
• Define the goal by developing a “Goal
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• Determine how the process currently performs.
• Look for what might be causing problem.
• Create a plan to collect the data.
• Ensure your data is reliable.
• Update your project charter.

The purpose of this step is to identify, validate and select root cause for elimination. A large number of potential root causes (process inputs, X) of the project problem are identified via root cause analysis (i.e. fishbone diagram). The top 3-4 potential root causes are selected using multi-voting or other consensus tool for further validation. A data collection plan is created and data are collected to establish the relative contribution of each root causes to the project metric, Y. This process is repeated until "valid" root causes can be identified. Within Six Sigma, often complex analysis tools are used.

• Identify the Cause of the Problem.
• Closely examine the process.
• Visually inspect the data.
• Brainstorm potential causes of the problem.
• Verify the causes of the problem.
• Update your Project Charter.


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