DMAIC: A Six Sigma methodology for process improvement (2023)

During my Six Sigma training courses, I often come across a few questions from participants:

  • How should we start the Six Sigma project in our organization?

  • When should we start the Six Sigma project in our organization?

  • Are we waiting for customer complaints or external knowledge of process issues?

  • Is Six Sigma really applicable since we didn't find any flaws in the process?

The philosophy behind the Six Sigma approach is:

  • Everything we measure; acquire our approach

  • Everything we focus on; leads to improvement

So identify the critical success factors for your business process. Define process metrics to measure process performance. With the Six Sigma methodology, the performance of this process can be improved. Six Sigma is a logically structured approach to improving business processes.

The Greek letter "sigma" is a statistical term; measures how far a given process deviates from perfection. Sigma is also called the standard deviation of the process from its mean. The Six Sigma process allows an organization to measure the number of "defects" in a process and methods to eliminate them and get as close to "zero defects" as possible.

Managers are faced with the challenge of improving the quality and efficiency of the company. to win you need themImplement the best methodologyand tools to analyze and control the process. The best way to improve the result is to improve the process.

Was ist Six-Sigma?

Let's understand Six Sigma to get more clarity about this method.

Six Sigma is a measurement-based process improvement strategy. It is a methodology aimed at improving the process and increasing customer satisfaction (internal and external). The concept behind this approach is to reduce variation in processes. This reduction leads to consistent and desired process results. Therefore, continuous process improvement with few errors is the goal of this method.

Six Sigma model (DMAIC model) to improve process quality:

Six Sigma follows the DMAIC model for quality improvement and problem reduction (for existing processes). This clearly defined process approach consists of five phases in this order:

(Video) An Ultimate Guide to DMAIC Methodology | DMAIC Lean Six Sigma | Invensis Learning

DMAIC: A Six Sigma methodology for process improvement (1)
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Figure 1: Understanding DMAIC

It is an integral part of the Lean Six Sigma process, but can also be implemented as a standalone quality improvement process. In fact, it is the preferred tool that can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any organization. Within the DMAIC framework, Six Sigma can use various quality management tools.

Seven basic quality tools:

Below is a list of some quality management tools, popularly known as the seven essential quality tools:

  1. Cause and Effect Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram

  2. Flussdiagramm

  3. Pareto-Diagramm

  4. histogram

  5. verification worksheet

  6. scatterplot

  7. Check table

    (Video) 11-Process Improvement Methodology DMAIC Lifecycle

These basic tools are useful at different times in Six Sigma projects.

DMAIC: A Six Sigma methodology for process improvement (2)
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Figure 2: Seven essential quality tools

Now let's break them down for better understanding and understanding:

1. Cause and Effect Diagram:

Also known as a fishbone diagram. The diagram, attributed to Kaoru Ishikawa, is in the form of a fish skeleton. Hence it is called a fishbone diagram. This tool is used to brainstorm the causes of a single effect (or event). These causes fall into several common categories known as 5M or 6M, with 6M being expanded as: Man, Material, Method, Machine, Measurement and Mother Nature.

2. Flussdiagramm:

It indicates the process flow schematically. Describes a pictorial representation of processes or process steps in order to understand their upstream or downstream flow.

3. Pareto-Diagram:

Also known as the 80:20 principle. The principle attributed to Vilfredo Pareto states that 80% of the result is the result of 20% of the causes. It's a type of bar chart that shows the frequencies of different causes or factors in descending order. The main purpose of this table is to highlight the most important factors among different factors.

4. Histogram:

It is a bar chart to examine the frequency distribution of the data set. It is used to understand the nature of the data.

5. Evidence sheet:

It is used for data collection. A frequency of factored data is recorded on the check sheet.

6. Scatterplot:

The scatterplot represents the relationship between two variables. It shows how one variable changes relative to a change in another variable. The scatterplot can show the following relationships:

  • strong positive

  • strongly negative

  • weak positive

  • weak negative

  • Arbitrary trend (parabolic)

  • No relationship

7. Control chart:

These charts are used to verify that the process data remains under control for a shorter period of time. They include process control limits and sometimes customer specification limits such as ranges or operating ranges. Process data is analyzed to stay within the limits of process control. Whenever data falls outside of the control limits, there are certainly some special causes that need to be investigated and addressed immediately. The purpose of these charts is to ensure that the process data does not exceed the control limits. However, there are also some exception rules to check the state of a runaway process even though it is within the control limits.

(Video) DMAIC Process Explained with Example

Description of DMAIC - each phase individually:

DMAIC: A Six Sigma methodology for process improvement (3)
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Figure 3: DMAIC as a continuous improvement cycle

The processes and tools associated with each phase are explained in the following sections:


The main goal of this phase is to summarize the project plan. This phase focuses on clearly specifying the problems; the objectives of the process improvement project, the scope of the project and the identification of customers (internal and external) along with their requirements. Contribution to this phase comes from the voice of the customer (VOC), the voice of the company (VOB) and/or the voice of the process (VOP). Sometimes the Voice of Employees (VOE) is also effective in guiding some Six Sigma improvement projects. With the help of these inputs, Six Sigma projects are identified. In this phase we identify opportunities for Six Sigma projects. We develop an overarching project plan and a process map. The main part of this phase is the creation of the project order. The charter is a document that represents an initial blueprint for any Six Sigma project. It describes the following essential elements:

  • Business case:This helps to understand how the project relates to overall business goals.

  • Problem statement:Describes the issue or issue that this project addresses.

  • goal statement:defines the goal of the project considering all SMART elements. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Limited in Time.

  • Project scope:Let the inside and outside be considered for this project. Defines the project boundary.

  • Team and its far-reaching responsibilities:Description of the project team along with their responsibilities and roles during the project.

  • Time schedule:Also known as landmarks. Ensures project progress is tracked as planned.

  • Estimated benefit of the project:The benefit of the project must be valued as an achievement. A cost-benefit analysis is carried out and the tangible and intangible benefits are speculated. This instructs the management to approve the project.

The charter is duly signed and approved by senior management. This is a signal to proceed with the drafting of the senior executive project. In the define phase, tools are needed to measure CTQ properties (critical to quality). The Pareto Chart andSIPOC(suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, customers) are the valuable tools of this phase.


The main goal of this phase is to collect data relevant to the scope of the project. This phase focuses on identifying the parameters to be quantified, ways of measuring them, collecting the necessary data and making measurements using different techniques.

The operational definition of the metric is designed. It provides a common language and understanding of the data collected. Does the data collection plan describe what data will be collected? When do you want to be picked up? who will pick up Thus, it sets the general direction for data collection.

After data collection, the data are analyzed to verify their nature through frequency distributions. The histogram can be used to understand the distribution of the data. Depending on the type of data - normal or abnormal - the data analysis tools are determined. The current performance of the process is also an important aspect to understand at this stage.

Various tools can be used in the measurement phase, e.g. B. Process Flow Diagrams, Benchmarking, History Charts, Gage R&R and Process Capability.

(Video) What is Six Sigma? ...and DMAIC

Two commonly used measurement techniques are: Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO) and Process Sigma.


The main goal of this phase is to find the root cause of the business inefficiency. Identifies deviations between actual and target performance, determines their causes and opportunities for improvement.

The analysis phase follows a detailed approach to get to the exact root causes of the various potential causes that were initially identified.

This phase starts with investigating all possible causes of the main problem. These causes are then verified and validated by hypotheses and statistical tools. The output of this phase is the verified root causes that need to be addressed to improve the process. The analysis phase requires due diligence to identify and verify root causes. Because the effectiveness of the process improvement through the Six Sigma project lies in the correct identification of the causes.

Commonly used tools in the analysis phase are fishbone diagrams, brainstorming, histograms, the 5 whys, hypothesis tests, time series plots, and scatter plots.


In this phase, the process is improved by identifying possible solutions and ways to implement them, testing them and implementing them to improve them. In this phase, those responsible for the process are consulted and suggestions for improvement are made. The improvement action plan is distributed to the relevant interested parties. This action plan sets out – actions to be taken; By When By Who etc. The improvement plan is designed to mitigate risk and includes feedback and customer satisfaction. The implementation phase begins at the same time as the improvement plan is drawn up. During implementation, measures are carried out, checked for their effectiveness and finally implemented.

The tools used for debugging are brainstorming, error prevention (Poka Yoke), simulation software, prototyping, piloting and Pugh matrix.


The main goal of this phase is to create a detailed plan to monitor the solution. This plan ensures that the required performance is maintained. Defines and validates the monitoring system, develops standards and procedures, reviews profit and revenue growth and communicates with the company. Therefore, the main goal of the control phase is to secure - maintain profits.

In this phase, the results after the implementation are evaluated. Progress is checked. And changes are incorporated when correction or modification is required. The control phase is in most cases a transitional phase. The transition is from current practices and systems to new practices.

The most important part of this phase is to provide training on new changes to all relevant stakeholders.

Important tools used in the control phase are the process sigma calculation, control charts, cost savings calculations andControl plan.

Six Sigma: A top-down approach:

Six SigmaYou need motivation and support from top management to reach your full potential. So it's a top-down approach. Senior management commitment is key to the success of Six Sigma projects. Six Sigma Master Black Belts or Black Belts must seek the best possible management support to achieve successful Six Sigma improvements. In addition to top management, the commitment of all stakeholders and employees leads to extraordinary results. In organizations where Six Sigma is part of the organizational culture, excellence is sought in every work area. The Six Sigma approach is strongly driven by the culture and values ​​of the organization. The pursuit of continuous improvement and excellence is an obvious advantage for Six Sigma applications.


The Six Sigma DMAIC methodology is internationally recognized and can be implemented in companies from small to large. Six Sigma is a highly structured and logical methodology. The structure followed goes through five important phases – DMAIC. The output of one phase is treated as input for the next phase. And in the end, the results are achieved as expected. All of these five phases (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) form a circular chain of continuous improvement. Six Sigma is a quest: A journey of improvement doesn't end with the achievement of a milestone. This process improvement tool can be used endlessly to make continuous improvements. Therefore, it leads to excellence.

Become part of a top team by applying the Six Sigma methodology to process improvement in your organization. And improve profit and customer loyalty. Six Sigma will pay off for you and your company.

Click here for the Six Sigma course

(Video) Difference between Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement, and Process Improvement


What is DMAIC methodology in Six Sigma? ›

DMAIC is an acronym that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It represents the five phases that make up the process: Define the problem, improvement activity, opportunity for improvement, the project goals, and customer (internal and external) requirements.

What is the main goal of DMAIC? ›

The main purpose of DMAIC tools is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization's existing processes. DMAIC is Six Sigma's core data-driven improvement methodology.

How DMAIC improve the process? ›

Improve phase of DMAIC Goals
  1. Identify the feasible solutions for the identified root cause(s)
  2. Select the best solution using statistical tools.
  3. Perform cost-benefit analysis.
  4. Test the solution.
  5. Assess the effectiveness of the solution to ensure measurable improvements in the process.

What is DMAIC and why is it important? ›

The DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) improvement cycle is an effective technique for structured change management. The emphasis on measurement and analysis helps ensure that opportunities for improvement are executed in a way that ensures the most positive impact.

How do you use DMAIC examples? ›

DMAIC Process and Problem-Solving
  1. Step 1: Define the Problem. So there's a problem that affects your customer or your company processes. ...
  2. Step 2: Measure the Problem. ...
  3. Step 3: Analyze the Problem. ...
  4. Step 4: Improve (Solve the Problem) ...
  5. Step 5: Control (Sustain the Improvements)
Nov 29, 2022

What is the most important step in DMAIC? ›

The Analyze Phase is often not given enough importance and, without analysis, teams tend to jump to solutions before knowing the actual root causes of the problems. This is the most important phase of all five phases of DMAIC.

What are the benefits of DMAIC? ›

With proper implementation of DMAIC, businesses have shown to benefit in several areas, including cutting down the cost of poor quality, boosting revenue, and improving business performance and productivity on the whole.

What is DMAIC for beginners? ›

DMAIC is an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The five steps represent an improvement cycle that is meant to be repeated frequently in an effort to identify best practices and move ever closer to perfect processes.

How do you define DMAIC? ›

Define – Define the problem that needs solving. Measure – Assess the extent of the issue and quantify it with data. Analyze – Use a data-driven approach to find the root cause of the problem. Improve – Put changes into place that eliminate the root cause. Control – Maintain the gains you've made with the changes.


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