DMAIC Can Help Improve Business Processes of Modern Enterprises – Learn How?

The Lean Six Sigma is a structured and data-driven problem-solving approach that quality leads, project managers, and other professionals use to resolve business problems. The DMAIC (D = Define; M = Measure; A = Analyze; I = Improve; C = Control) process is, however, a subset within the Lean Six Sigma concept. The methodology has evolved from the manufacturing industry and recognized for eliminating project-related inefficiencies. Favored by worldwide enterprises, the DMAIC is a rigorous process that ensures nearly 100% defect-free output for the organizations.

What is DMAIC and Why is it Successful?

DMAIC comprises five phases that help organizations to improve their production processes. The most common tools associated with each phase are discussed here below:

Phase I - Define

Define phase helps project leads in summarizing the project plan, specifying the problems, describing the desired outcomes, and the scope of the process improvement project. The phase also assists process managers in identifying their customers (internal and external) as well as their requirements.

Voice of Customer (VOC), Voice of Business (VOB) and Voice of Process (VOP) are the primary inputs for this phase. Besides, enterprises consider Voice of Employees (VOE) as effective input for identifying and implementing the process improvement projects. In the Define phase, organizations identify an opportunity for Lean Six Sigma projects and develop a high-level project plan or process map.

The most important aspect of this phase is preparing Project Charter – a documented initial blueprint for any Lean Six Sigma project that outlines these essential elements:

  • Business Case helps in understanding how the project is linked to the overall business objectives;
  • Problem Statement describes the concern for the intended project;
  • Goal Statement defines the project goal by considering all elements of SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
  • Project Scope considers in and out for the planned project and defines the project boundary;
  • Team Responsibilities describes the project team along with their roles and responsibilities throughout the project;
  • Milestones or Time Plan tracks the scheduled progress of the project;
  • Project Benefits are the estimated deliverable that directs the management, whether to approve the project or not.

Post conducting a cost-benefit analysis and speculating both tangible as well as intangible benefits, the management shall sign and approve the Charter for the outlined project.

Tools in Define phase, including the Pareto Chart and SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers), are required to measure the CTQ (Critical to Quality) aspects of the project.

Phase II - Measure

Measure phase helps project leads in collecting the relevant data for the project’s scope, identifying and measuring the quantifiable process metrics, and implementing appropriate tools or techniques.

In the Measure phase, the project owners devise a Data Collection Plan that provides a common understanding of the collected data. The plan, essentially, sets the overall direction for data collection and guides the project owners in deciding – What is to collect? When to collect? and Who will collect?

Post the completion of data collection, the project team shall analyze the data to determine its attributes (standard or unique) through frequency distributions. Based on these characteristics project managers shall employ appropriate data analysis tools. The leads shall also use the histogram to understand the data distribution process. Existing Process Capabilities are also an important aspect that project teams need to understand in this phase.

Various tools used during Measure phase include Process Flowcharts, Benchmarking, Run Charts, Gage R & R, Process Capability, among others. While Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO) and Process Sigma are the most used measurement techniques in this phase.

Phase III - Analyze

The Analyze phase helps organizations in finding the root cause of business inefficiencies, identifying the gaps between actual and desired performance, and determining the opportunities for improvement.

Analyze phase starts with exploring all possible causes to the main concern.  In this phase, the project leads adopt and follow a drill-down approach to find the precise root causes from numerous initially identified potential causes. 

The ascertained causes are then verified and validated through various hypothesis as well as statistical tools. The outcome of this phase is confirmed root causes that need immediate attention of the process manager to ensure process improvements.

The thumb rule for project leads is they must take extra care while identifying and verifying the root causes. Because in Lean Six Sigma, the success of process improvement projects lies on the correct identification of root causes.

Primarily used tools in the Analyze phase include Fishbone Diagram, Brainstorming, Histogram, Five Whys, Hypothesis Testing, Time Series Plots, and Scatter-Plot.

Phase IV - Improve

Improve phase enables project teams in improving the process by correctly determining potential solutions, properly implementing the relevant tools, and appropriately implementing them for process improvement. In this phase, quality teams shall consult with process owners, suggest desired improvements, and share the Action Plan with relevant stakeholders.

The Action Plan indicates the planned action items, intended timelines, along with other process improvement steps and includes customers’ feedbacks. The process improvement plan empowers organizations in mitigating potential business risks. Post forming the improvement action plan, the project team shall start implementing it simultaneously.

During the implementation stage, process owners shall test the effectiveness of the action plan before finally implementing it.

Tools used during the Improve phase include Brainstorming, Mistake-Proofing (Poka Yoke), Simulation software, Prototyping, Piloting, and Pugh Matrix.

Phase V - Control

The Control phase helps organizations in defining and validating the business monitoring mechanism, developing process standards and procedures, verifying the anticipated benefits, and ensuring business growth. The primary purpose of the Control phase is, therefore, to generating detailed solution monitoring plan, assuring desired performance levels, and maintaining consistent business gains.

Throughout the Control phase, the project leads shall evaluate the post-implementation outcomes, assess the progress of the plan, and slot in the required correction or modification. The phase, in most instances, is a transition phase that enables organizations to alter the existing practices and systems into new processes.

Most importantly, in the Control phase, all the relevant stakeholders must get training on new changes.

Important tools for the Control phase are Process Sigma Calculation, Control Charts, Cost Saving Calculations, and Monitoring Plan.


The advantages of the DMAIC process, as the most used Lean Six Sigma approach, are not limited to the top-level stages, but contained in every phase. The components and primary tools in each phase ensure a more structured approach for solving a business problem. Let’s learn the DMAIC concepts in detail from the Globally Renowned Lean Six Sigma expert – Janam Sandhu.

Posted on 09 August, 2019

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Categories : Lean Six Sigma White Belt Course

Comments so far.. Add new comment

Rakesh Sharma 30/10/2019

Kudos to you !

Rakesh Sharma 30/10/2019

Kudos to you !

Sayyid 10/09/2019

Enrolled for your course, appreciate your work and dedication.

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