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 towards selecting the right project for improvement. And once the project has been selected, the improvement teams use problem-solving DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Identify, and Control) approach to refine projects and deliver tangible results.
Main objective of 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 from 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 are short-term in nature
  • There is a greater combination of tools-tasks-deliverables linkage

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:

  1. DEFINE:

    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 which is in a steady-state of 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 to describe the problem at hand. Make use of graphical tools to ensure 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 towards 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 towards 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 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 the 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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Arvind Rongala
Arvind Rongala, an engineer by education, has deep experience of serving the IT-BPO industry for more than 8 years. With his keen interest in the learning and development sector, Arvind spearheaded the launch of Invensis Learning as the training and certification arm of Invensis Technologies. As the Director of Invensis Learning, and with offices in the US, India, and Australia, he ensured the company became a trusted training partner for many Fortune 1000 clients and gain global recognition in a short span of time. { has featured a story about Arvind about his achievements over the years. } With his expertise in Project Management, IT Service Management, Quality Management, and IT Security Governance, he has been a guest author for various popular digital publications such as Business Insider, Business today, Project Times, Customer Think, Tech Sling, and Businessworld.


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