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DMAIC

When it comes to problem-solving in the business world, there are not many models better than DMAIC. Plenty of organisations use this model for improvement because it consists of 5 main phases which are Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC).

DMAIC

Define

This is where a team in an organization pinpoints a problem that they would like to sort out or fix. The process of Lean Six Sigma improvement has 5 major phases and the first one is called define.

During this phase, an organization has to be able to formulate what is known as a project chart. A project charter is like a roadmap which helps an organization know what their customer need.

Step involved during the define phase:

  1. Define the problem: An organization has to define the problem by coming up with what is known as a problem statement
  2. Define the goal: Once the problem statement is complete, an organization can move on and define the goal. They do this by coming up with a goal statement.
  3. Define the process: This is where an organization develops process maps which act as guides.
  4. Define the customers and their needs: This is where an organization understands the needs as well as wants of their target audience
  5. Inform: This is where an organization lets everyone know how a project is progressing.

Overall define is a very important phrase because the team in an organization are able to highlight the focus of a project on their own as well as the leadership structure.

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Measure

This is where a team in any organization looks at how the process they have picked to deal with a problem to see if it is performing or working well. It helps an organization understand the roots of their problems and see how deep they are. The measure is important because when an organization is gathering information, they will focus on what their target audience cares about and the process.

Step involved during the measure phase:

  1. Analyze the process: This is where an organization look closely at exactly how their process is doing
  2. Information collection: An organization needs to come up with the appropriate method to gather information
  3. Check information authenticity: An organization has to make sure that the information collected is not outdated but reliable
  4. Collect baseline information: An organization has to ensure they collect the baseline information
  5. Update project charter: This is where an organization simply updates its project charter based on the information why have gathered.

The main focus of the measure phase is to either improve the quality that customers are getting or lead time. As pointed out earlier, the measure phase is where an organization determines whether its current methods are doing well or not.

Analyze

This is where a team in an organization looks at what exactly is causing or bringing in the problem they are facing. While this phase does not get the attention it deserves, there is no denying its importance.

If an organization does not analyze things properly, they end up misunderstanding the problem at hand and picking the wrong solutions for it. This does not only meantime, money and resources are wasted, it can also bring in a new set of problems.

Step involved during the define phase:

  1. Look at the process close: An organization has no choice but to closely examine the process they have picked
  2. Graphical representation: This is where an organization display their data graphically
  3. Know the problem root: An organization has to look deeply at what exactly is bringing the problem or causing it
  4. Verify: An organization has to confirm that they really know what exactly is causing the problem they are facing.
  5. Update: This is where an organization simply updates its project charter based on the information why have gathered.

The main thing an organization needs to do during this phase is to brainstorm the main cause of the problem. They also have to understand why the problems are there to begin with and work on dealing with them.

Improve

The improve phase is how a team in an organization will mitigate the issues that are bringing in the problem they are facing. When the team knows what the root cause of a problem is, it is time to come up with options to deal with it.

All in all, it is all about coming up with options through brainstorming, testing them and then implementing. After an option has been implemented, an organization needs to gather information to see if improvements are being made.

Step involved during the define phase:

  1. Brainstorming: This is where an organization comes up with options to deal with a particular problem
  2. Choose an option: Naturally, there will be a few options that will be laid out on the table and it is up to the organization to pick one.
  3. Develops maps of processes: This is where an organization comes up with maps of process based on the options they have come up with
  4. Implement: This is where the option that has been picked is put into practice
  5. Measure: During this step, an organization will see whether improvements are being made or not.

A well-structured improvement process can make an organization come up with great and innovative solutions in the future to tackle problems. The more solutions an organization has to deal with problems, the better.

Control

During the control phase, this is where an organization asks themselves how they will be able to maintain the option they picked since the problem has been dealt with.

The team in an organization needs to come up with what is known as a monitoring plan.  This is act as the benchmark and the concept they will use to measure the success or failure of the option that has been implemented.

Step involved during the define phase:

  1. Manage the process: An organization has to make sure that the option picked is closely monitored as well as managed
  2. Document: An organization has to make sure that all improvements are documented
  3. Highlight areas that need improvement: If there are other areas in the organization that need an upgrade, improvements need to be applied there as well
  4. Celebrate: This is where success is celebrated and shared
  5. Continuously improve: This is where an organization does not rest on their morals and will improve the process they have implemented using lean principles

Bonus: Synergize

The DMAIC has an extra step that is rarely talked about, but an important one nonetheless. Is it called Synergize, and many consider it to be an optional step. However, it aims to make the results of the DMAIC methodology more concrete.

Synergy basically means harnessing the collective power of a group; in this case, the team. By working together, the team can achieve greater things than if the individual members had worked in isolation. In Lean Six Sigma, Synergy is about communicating the positive results (gains) of the project to the entire organization.

This way, everyone learns and benefits from the changes that have been made. Learning becomes the organizational culture, which multiplies the positive results obtained through the implementation of the DMAIC methodology.

Everyone gets on board and everyone helps.

Steps involved in creating Synergy in the workplace:

  1. Let everyone in on the end game: It is easier to get people on board if they know what goals they are working towards.
  2. Communicate gains: The Lean Six Sigma team should clearly communicate the gains from the DMAIC project. That way, people can internalize their gains and see how they benefit them and the organization as a whole.
  3. Create a positive environment: Leadership should create an environment where everyone’s contributions are acknowledged and conflicts are swiftly resolved. This maintains the momentum of the project so that the gains keep coming.

Once Synergy is achieved, the process starts over since. It is not a destination, but a starting point that leads to even greater improvements.

If by any chance performances do go down, an organization needs to come up with a response plan. When a team has finalized these plans, they can put them in the hands of the process owner. They will be responsible for all the ongoing maintenance that is going to happen in the organization.

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