dmaic-process

DMAIC Process

The DMAIC process is a data-driven improvement cycle for optimizing and stabilizing business processes and designs. 

Understanding the DMAIC process

Fundamentally, the DMAIC approach exists to bring structure to process improvement and problem-solving.

Indeed, it may be used to implement a new process or improve an existing process.

Every such initiative is underpinned by data collection, which makes it possible to determine whether results have improved and to what degree.

The DMAIC process is often associated with Six Sigma projects, though it is by no means limited to lean manufacturing.

six-sigma
Six Sigma is a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating errors or defects in a product, service, or process. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola as a management approach based on quality fundamentals in the early 1980s. A decade later, it was popularized by General Electric who estimated that the methodology saved them $12 billion in the first five years of operation.

DMAIC is effective in many quality improvement projects, such as improving employee and customer satisfaction or launching a new product or service.

The five steps of the DMAIC process

DMAIC is an acronym of five interconnected and sequential steps:

Define (D)

Firstly, the problem, improvement activity, project goals, project team, and customer requirements must be identified.

Tools used in the first DMAIC step include stakeholder analysis, voice of the customer matrix, or high-level process map like a SIPOC diagram.

Measure (M)

This step involves data collection to establish the baseline upon which subsequent performance improvements will be measured.

What should be measured and how should it be measured? Useful tools include 6S, value stream maps, and detailed process mapping.

Analyze (A)

Here, potential problem root causes are identified and validated with a root cause analysis.

What is the magnitude of their contribution to the problem? Ideally, the team will have a list of potential root causes to investigate further.

These may be derived by using a failure mode and effects analysis, cause and effect diagrams, or simple brainstorming.

Improve (I)

The purpose of the improve step is to identify, test, and implement a solution that eliminates a root cause.

It’s important to focus on the simplest and easiest answers – there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Solutions can be tested using the PDCA cycle.

pdca-cycle
The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle was first proposed by American physicist and engineer Walter A. Shewhart in the 1920s. The PDCA cycle is a continuous process and product improvement method and an essential component of the lean manufacturing philosophy.

Control (C)

In the final step, the project team ensures the solution is a viable long-term fix.

They must ensure the problem does not reoccur by devising a monitoring plan to track the success of the improvement. Initiatives must then be incorporated into standard operating procedures.

Once this has been achieved, the business may find value in implementing the solution in a similar project or process.

Benefits of the DMAIC process

Aside from improving projects and processes, DMAIC has many other benefits:

Discipline and structure

The DMAIC process is a highly structured approach that lets a business think through a problem systematically.

This saves it from implementing a solution before verifying whether it is likely to be successful, which can be financially costly and sometimes exacerbate the problem.

Improvement control

The fifth and final control step is also seen as an important benefit of the methodology.

In some instances, the project team discovers a solution but cannot implement it properly because of inadequate time, money, or buy-in.

DMAIC favors a strict and comprehensive control phase to identify a set of best practices likely to result in long-term success.

Reduced operating costs

Operational costs and associated risks are a major expense for many global companies.

When combined with Six Sigma principles, DMAIC reduces operating costs while minimizing risk.

These savings are instituted by shorter, standardized processes with fewer touchpoints, hand-offs, reworks, failures, and other non-value adding activities

Key takeaways

  • The DMAIC process is a data-driven improvement cycle for optimizing and stabilizing business processes and designs. The process exists to bring structure and clarity to problem-solving.
  • The DMAIC process is an acronym of five sequential steps: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. 
  • The DMAIC process encourages businesses to avoid implementing a solution before it has been properly verified. The methodology also ensures the solution is a viable long-term fix and reduces operating costs and risk.

Connected Agile Frameworks

AIOps

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AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

AgileSHIFT

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Agile Methodology

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Agile Program Management

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Agile Project Management

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Agile Modeling

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Agile Business Analysis

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Agile Leadership

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Bimodal Portfolio Management

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Business Innovation Matrix

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Business Model Innovation

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Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Constructive Disruption

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A consumer brand company like Procter & Gamble (P&G) defines “Constructive Disruption” as: a willingness to change, adapt, and create new trends and technologies that will shape our industry for the future. According to P&G, it moves around four pillars: lean innovation, brand building, supply chain, and digitalization & data analytics.

Continuous Innovation

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That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

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Design Thinking

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Dual Track Agile

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ICE Scoring

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Innovation Funnel

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Innovation Matrix

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Innovation Theory

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Lean vs. Agile

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The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

startup-company
A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.

Kanban

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Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.

Rapid Application Development

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RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Scaled Agile

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Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Spotify Model

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The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

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As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.

Timeboxing

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Scrumban

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Scrum Anti-Patterns

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Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

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Stretch Objectives

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Waterfall

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The waterfall model was first described by Herbert D. Benington in 1956 during a presentation about the software used in radar imaging during the Cold War. Since there were no knowledge-based, creative software development strategies at the time, the waterfall method became standard practice. The waterfall model is a linear and sequential project management framework. 

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