What is DMAIC?

DMAIC is a 5-Stage Problem solving tool, based on Data analysis.

  • It analyzes the Variables and Processes involved in a given Problem, proposes different Solutions and establishes Controls to prevent recidivism.

 

This tool is commonly used in Continual Improvement Processes such as Kaizen, 8D or 6-sigma.

 

Its name is an acronyms of its 5 Stages:

  • Define.
  • Measure.
  • Analyze.
  • Improve.
  • Control.

 

Let’s see what they mean:

DMAIC Five Steps

1. Define: In this Stage, you have to Define your Problem or Goal.

  • What is your final Objective.

 

2. MeasureIn this Stage, you have to Define your Variables.

  • What are the variables involved and what measurement system will you use.

 

3. AnalyzeIn this Stage, you have to Define your Potential Scenarios.

  • What can be done, and what would be the result.

 

4. Improve: In this Stage, you have to Implement your Solution.

  • Once you have analyzed all your potential scenarios, you have to choose your final scenario.

 

5. ControlIn this Stage, you have to Implement your Controls.

  • This Controls should guarantee that the final solution is optimal, and avoid recidivism problems.

DMAIC Steps explained.

 

Let’s see the first example so that you understand it better:

  • We’ll give you a much more detailed example later.

DMAIC example

 

Let’s imagine you own an e-commerce Site.

Your Site sells handmade products.

  • Sales depend exclusively on the users you receive: you just sell through your Site.

 

Lately, you have been experiencing a decrease in sales.

  • You receive fewer visitors to your Site.

 

Since you are decided to solve this issue, you decide to develop a DMAIC process:

  • This is a synthesized DMAIC.

 

Define:

  • You want to increase your Sales.
    • That is your ultimate Goal.

 

Measure:

  • The most important variable is: Impressions caused by your products.
    • It is not the same as users received: if you had more users but they didn’t see your products, you wouldn’t sell anything.
  • Here, you can use an Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram to identify the Main Variables involved.

 

Analyze:

  • You have two main options to Increase the Visibility of your products:
    • Receive more users organically.
    • Promote your products in other Sites.

 

Improve:

  • To receive more users: you decide to:
    • Create more content.
    • Start a YouTube channel showing how your products are made.
  • You also decide to promote your products on other specialized Websites, paying a small commission.

 

Control:

  • You introduce a weekly monitoring control.
    • This way, you’ll be able to study if the measures taken are effective and which one is better.

Check how, by pointing the correct Variable, the analysis and the conclusions obtained can be very different.

  • If you had focused on profitability, you may have had to increase prices, for example.

 

There are always almost infinite “solutions” to one same problem.

  • It all depends on how you approach it.

Why is DMAIC important?

There are different reasons why DMAIC is one of the best Problem Solving tools.

Here are some of them:

  • It defines your ultimate goal.
    • Not just the problem or what you want to solve.
  • It “forces” you to search for the Variables involved in your problem.
    • Other methods just focus on the problem itself.
  • It highlights the importance of the Measure system.
    • Often, even more important that the variables themselves.
  • It introduces a Control stage.
    • We all tend to settle for the first option we find.

 

And, most important of all: it is a Step-by-Step framework that anyone can follow.

 

Think about this: when you want to solve something… do you usually follow any guidelines?

 

What do the best engineers do when they have a problem in an airplane turbine (for example)?

  • We’ll tell you: they have a sequence of steps to follow.

Now, let’s explain when you should use the DMAIC process:

When should you use the DMAIC process?

As we mentioned in other Problem-Solving methods:

  • Whenever you have a Problem you want to solve.
  • When you have a Goal that you want to achieve.

 

You shouldn’t be using DMAIC just at work.

 

We recommend that you to use this methodology in your day to day.

  • That way, you’ll get used to being strict and methodical when solving problems.

 

Let’s see some examples:

DMAIC examples

Now, we’ll use the DMAIC process in one day-to-day problem: Baking the perfect Bread.

We’ll explain each Step individually so that you understand the entire process perfectly.

 

Let’s begin:

Define Step - DMAIC example

 

In the first Step, you Define which is your Problem and your Goal:

You are tired of baking mediocre breads:

  • You want to make the perfect Bread.

You have tried several times and each time you make bread you have a different result.

 

You want to obtain the perfect recipe.

Measure Step - DMAIC example

 

In this Stage, you decide to develop an Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram to find out the Main variables involved.

 

Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram – DMAIC Measure Stage.

 

According to the Ishikawa diagram, the most important variables to study are:

  • Water.
  • Flour.
  • Oven Temperature.
  • Time.
  • Kneading method.
  • Final form of the Dough.
  • Room Temperature and Humidity.

 

All these variables can be easily measured, with the exception of the Kneading and Final shape of the dough.

  • You’ll evaluate these variables at a glance.

Analyze Step - DMAIC example

 

In this Stage, you test:

  • Different water/ flour ratios.
  • Different temperatures.
  • Different rest times.
  • Different Kneading methods.
  • Different Final forms.

 

 

For each test, you write down:

  • What parameters you used.
    • Quantities.
    • Time.
    • Temperatures.
    • etc.
  • What was the Result, scoring from 1 to 10:
    • Taste.
    • Fluffiness.
    • Crust Crunchiness.

 

 

This tests take time, of course.

  • But remember: This recipe will be the best possible, and you’ll have it forever.

Improve Step - DMAIC example

 

Once you have the results, you decide which one you will use.

 

You can make this decision based just on Taste, Crunchiness and Fluffiness, but you can also consider:

  • The time it required.
    • Imagine that you find a very good recipe, but it takes 8 hours to develop while the 2nd best option only takes 45 mins.
  • The resources you needed.
    • Imagine that you find an amazing recipe, but you need a type of flour that is very expensive and difficult to find.

 

 

Since your Goal is literally “to Bake the perfect Bread”, you decide to judge the result according to Taste, Crunchiness and Fluffiness.

  • If your goal was “an affordable, good quick-to-make bread” perhaps you could consider other variables.

Control Step - DMAIC example

 

Since weather changes, you decide that:

  • As soon as summer arrives (or winter) you’ll recheck the variables related to room temperature.

The quantity of flour, water, etc… aren’t affected by weather conditions.

 

 

If you see any noticeable changes, you’ll define different recipes for different seasons.

  • Maybe, you could link the resting time of the dough to room temperature.

Summarizing

If you have a Goal, or want to solve a Problem, you should consider developing a DMAIC process.

 

The DMAIC tool is a 5-Stage Problem solving method that focuses on Data Analysis.

Its name is an acronym for the 5 Stages on which it is based:

  • Define.
  • Measure.
  • Analyze.
  • Improve.
  • Control.

 

Even though it may seem obvious to some people, it offers a step-by-step guidance that can be very helpful for reaching your goals.

And there nothing better than being methodical and strict when you want to achieve something.

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