As soon as you have anything to do with Six Sigma, you’ll hear of DMAIC, but don’t let it put you off, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds. It stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, and it’s the main framework for process improvement in Six Sigma. The steps are:
- Define the aims of the project – what you want to achieve
- Measure the current system, to find where the issues are
- Analyze the data to see what the main issues are, and why they are occurring
- Improve the current system to remove the issues found
- Control the improved system so the new system is maintained
Sometimes an extra step is added:
- Transfer the knowledge onwards – an optional final step – review and learn from the project. This makes the framework ‘DMAICT’.
Make sure you finish each stage before starting the next, and just follow the steps one by one until you reach the end!
This is the setup; where you define what overall (broad) goals the project will have, including overall goal and schedule. It’s also where you put together a team (including training if required), work out who will be impacted by the change, and get authorisation from management. You put together the Project Charter at this stage (the key output), which has a full description of the job.
- Team creation
- Choose team members
- Project Charter
- Overall aim of the project
- Get authorisation from management
- Prioritize your opportunities, and choose the highest priority
- Business impact assessment
- Desirability matrix
- Define Scope
- Scoping Document (can be included in the Project Charter)
- Choose team
- Team Contract is an output, but this can be included in the Project Charter below
- Define the project
- Project / Improvement Charter
- Get sign off from management on the Charter
- Plan timescales
You go into a lot more detail at this stage, getting customers involved to get a full map of the process as it currently stands. You need to get a handle on the past to know where you are going, namely:
- What problems have been found with the current process that has led to this project?
- Has anything already been tried? If so what was the result?
- Have any potential causes already been identified?
- Collect data on issues such as yields and issues frequencies, to determine the base line of how many issues the current system is creating (this data will be analysed in more detail in the ‘Analyze’ phase next)
- Create process maps which thoroughly map how the process works, including inputs, outputs, and timings
- Closely define the current how the current process operates
- Agree on a reliable way of measuring the system
- Measure the current output / yield
- Understand current process
- Voice of the Customer
- Case for change
- Communication plan
Analyze is where you find what’s causing the issues (and what factors can supply improvements), and see if you can find processes elsewhere to emulate.
- See if there is a ‘best in class’ process that you can roll out to the rest of the system
- Determine the sources of any variation in the process, and the factors that lead to error
- Process Analysis
- Identify causes of defects
- Data analysis
- Regression Analysis
- Hypothesis Tests
- Prioritize causes
This is the good bit, where you work out your priorities for improvement, then put them into practice.
- Summarise the opportunities for improvement
- Prioritise the improvements, and choose which are to be implemented
- New system
- Define the process for the new system
- Analyze the new process for potential issues
- Implement the new system(s)
- Create Possible Solutions
- Process means
- Refine Solutions
- Poka Yoke
- Choose Solution
- Decision Matrix
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- Sell solution to stakeholders
- Force Field Analysis
- Pilot Solution
- Design of Experiments
- Hypothesis Tests
- Implement the solution
- Implement Plan
- Document the Process
- Flow chart
The final stage is all about not letting your hard won gains go to waste, and things slip back to their old ways.
- Measure the results of the new process to verify that the expected benefits have occurred
- Develop controls so that the gains are maintained
- Write up the project
- Monitor the process
- Monitoring and control plan
- Control chart
- Determine sigma level
- Sustain the improvement through building the controls into everyday procedures
Transfer is an optional sixth step to DMAIC(T), where you review the project to see if you can use the learning points elsewhere.
Transfer the new knowledge and improvements across the organization
- Document Project results and learning points, and see if they can be applied to other projects or departments
- Review the project method to upgrade your project improvement process
- Celebrate your success with the rest of the team (morale building)
- Pizza for all!