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Six Sigma DMAIC

Oct. 15, 2011

Permalink 10:18:00 pm, by Michael, 783 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Project Digest, On Six Sigma


In my last article I explained that Six Sigma is simply a goal, a goal to be 99.99967% good.  Hopefully I have expressed in words (probably too many) that it's really nothing more than that, a goal.  Now, I want to share with you the process that is prescribed and necessary to follow in order to achieve this goal.  The process is referred to as D.M.A.I.C. and it's part of the Six Sigma methodology.

The Six Sigma methodology is DMAIC which is an acronym that refers to the 5 phases of a Six Sigma project.  These phases each have specific objectives that are characterized by their one word name...Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.   Each phase has a predefined set of deliverables and tools that should be used to achieve the deliverables.  If followed, the Six Sigma methodology works, I've personally lead, coached, sponsored or championed enough projects to know, the methodology does work.

So what are the deliverables and tools?  You'll get to know them quite well if you continue to follow this blog but you will truly learn them if you apply them yourself.  Here's a breakdown of each phase and the goals & tools:

Define Phase Goals

The goal of Define is to establish the projects foundation. This is arguably the most important aspect of any Six Sigma project. All successful projects start with a current state challenge or problem that can be articulated in a quantifiable manner. Additionally, it is not enough to just know the problem; you'll also determine the goal.

Once problems and goals are identified and quantified the rest of the define phase will be about valuation, team, scope, project planning, time line, stakeholders, VOC/ VOB etc.

Define Phase Tools

  • Project Charter
    • Problem Statement
    • Business Case
    • Objective
    • High level time line
    • Project Scope
    • Project Team
  • Stakeholder Assessment
  • Pareto Charts
  • VOC/VOB & CTQ's
  • High Level Process Map

Measure Phase Goals

The goal of the Measure phase is to gather baseline information about your process or product. Throughout the measure phase you will seek to achieve a few important objectives:

  • Gather All possible x's
  • Analyze your measurement system & Data Collection Requirements
  • Validate Assumptions
  • Validate Improvement Goals
  • Determine COPQ
  • Refine Process Understanding
  • Determine Process Capability
  • Process Stability

Measure Phase Tools

  • Any Appropriate Tool from Previous Phase
  • Process Maps, Value Stream Mapping
  • Failure Modes & Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Cause & Effect Diagram
  • XY Matrix
  • Basic Control Charts
  • Six Sigma Statistics
    • Basic Statistics
    • Descriptive Statistics
    • Normal Distributions
    • Graphical Analysis
  • Measurement Systems Analysis
    • Variable Gage R&R
    • Attribute Gage R&R
    • Gage Linearity & Accuracy
    • Gage Stability
  • Process Capability (Cpk, Ppk) & Sigma
  • Data collection plan

Analyze Phase Goals

The Analyze phase is all about establishing verified drivers. In the Six Sigma methodology, Analyze uses statistics and higher order analytics to discover the fact-based relationship between the your process performance and the x's (in other words, what are the root causes or drivers of your improvement effort). Ultimately, you must establish a hypothesis for your improvement solutions.

  • Establish Transfer Function Y=f(x)
  • Validated List of Critical X's & Impacts
  • Beta Improvement Plan (e.g. Pilot Plan)

Analyze Phase Tools

  • Any Appropriate Tool from Previous Phase
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Simple Linear Regression
  • Multiple Regression

Improve Phase Goals

The goal of the Improve phase is guessed it! "make the improvement". Improve is about designing, testing and implementing your solution. To this point you have defined the problem and objective of the project, brainstormed possible x's, analyzed and verified critical x's and now it's time to make it real!

  • Statistically Proven Results from Active Study/Pilot
  • Improvement/Implementation Plan
  • Updated Stakeholder Assessment
  • Revised Business Case with Investment ROI
  • Risk Assessment/Updated FMEA
  • New Process Capability & Sigma

Improve Phase Tools

  • Any Appropriate Tool from Previous Phase
  • Design of Experiment (DOE)
  • Implementation Plan
  • Change Plan
  • Communication Plan

Control Phase Goals

The last of the 5 core phases of the Six Sigma methodology is the Control phase. The goal of Control is establish automated and managed mechanisms to maintain and sustain your improvement. A successful control plan also establishes a reaction & mitigation plan as well as an accountability structure.

Control Phase Tools:

  • Control Plan
  • Training Plans
  • Poka-Yoke and/or Audit Plans
  • Translation Plan - How can this be translated to others

Below is an image that captures the Six Sigma methodology and all five phases of DMAIC.  It highlights each phase, its goal and the deliverables.

six sigma methodology

Now that you have a reasonable understanding of "what is six sigma" and the Six Sigma methodology (DMAIC).  It's time for us to start following the process and begin executing our Six Sigma project.  We'll start with a project charter which will force us to define a few things and document our project.  Join me and we'll walk through the DMAIC methodology together.

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