DMAIC: The 5 Phases of Lean Six Sigma Process

Today, Six Sigma has spread its roots deep in enterprise DNA to provide services/products that provide better value and offer immense customer satisfaction. This process improvement methodology is key to selecting the right project for improvement. And once the project has been selected, the improvement teams use the problem-solving DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Identify, and Control) approach to refine projects and deliver tangible results. The main objective of the DMAIC approach DMAIC is one of the best Six Sigma problem-solving processes that has found widespread acceptance around the world. This approach is mainly used when there is a problem with an existing product or service. The variation in the customer requirement can be a major problem and those variations can take many forms. With DMAIC one will be able to resolve defects, deviations, excess cost, and service/product deterioration. As Six Sigma reduces all the variations in a project, the DMAIC identifies key deliverables, tasks, standard tools, and requirements for a team to use while tackling a problem. This DMAIC approach is a lot more flexible than other rigid processes. The project team will be able to learn more about the root cause of the problem through this 5-step process and they can always explore other alternatives. The DMAIC rests on three fundamental principles that are:

  • Driven by data, facts, results-oriented, and metrics
  • It is a project-based work which is short-term in nature
  • There is a greater combination of tools-tasks-deliverables linkage

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training - Invensis The DMAIC uses five steps that are sequential and some activities from various steps occur simultaneously and even be iterative. The DMAIC five steps are as follows:


Define the problem and explain the scope of the project for the team working on it. Usually, teams just look at the problem from their perspective, but it has to be the other way around. The problem should include the pain points felt by the customer and how long the issue has been left unattended. There could be various problems that arise at once such as employees, services, or advertising and marketing. Irrespective of the problem, the problem has to be an existing one that is in a steady state of the process and not a one-time event and has been causing trouble over many cycles.


Measure the current process/performance. Six Sigma is all about data-driven decisions, and to improve processes, one has to identify what kind of data is available and from where. Initially create a plan to gather the info and then summarize it to describe the problem at hand. Make use of graphical tools to ensure a better understanding of the problem.


Analyze current performance to isolate and act on the problem. Through both statistical and qualitative analysis, you can formulate and run test hypotheses toward the root cause of the problem.


Improve the process by selecting a solution for a problem. Depending upon the particular root cause, address the cause with an improvement initiative. It’s better to brainstorm potential solutions to the problems and prioritize according to the customers’ requirements and do a test run to see if it gives a perfect solution for the problem.


Control the improved process to ensure the customer requirements or goals are met. Once a consensus has been reached towards the improvement, it must be standardized across the organization for similar problems in the future. Even the standard operating procedures (SOPs) may need a relook to track the ongoing performance of processes. The project teams implement the standardized improvements over a period to control processes and ensure the projects are being completed successfully.

DMAIC acts as the foundation of Six Sigma and is much more effective when used in an iterative manner to solve problems. Quality practitioners and process improvement specialists often start by learning the DMAIC approach as most of the other methodologies obtain its fundamental structure and concepts.

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Diego Rodriguez works as a Six Sigma Black Belt professional for a leading manufacturing company. He possesses ample experience in various aspects of quality management, such as Lean, Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis, Design Thinking, and more. His primary focus is to conduct tests and monitor the production phase and also responsible for sorting out the items that fail to meet the quality standards. Diego’s extensive work in the field has resulted in being an honorary member of quality associations globally. His areas of research include knowledge management, quality control, process design, strategic planning, and organizational performance improvement.


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