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DMAIC – A Six Sigma Process Improvement Methodology

Six Sigma is measurement-based strategy for process improvement. The Greek letter “Sigma” a statistical term measures how much a given process deviates from perfection. Six Sigma process enables an organization to measure the number of “defects” in a process, methods to eliminate them and get close to “zero defects” as much as possible.
Managers are faced with challenges in improving the quality and efficiency of the business. To overcome this they need to implement the best methodology and tools to analyze and control the process. The best way to improve the result is to improve the process.
Six Sigma adopts the DMAIC model for problem reduction and quality improvement. This well-defined process consist of five phases:
  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control
It is an integral part of Six Sigma process, but can be implemented as a standalone quality improvement process or as a part of other improvement process such as lean. Collectively, it is the strongest tool that can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization. Within the DMAIC process, Six Sigma utilizes several quality management tools.
The process and tools associated with each phase is -
The main objective of this phase is to summarize the project plan. This phase focuses on clearly specifying the problems, the goals of the process improvement project what is the scope of the project and identifying the customers (internal and external) along with their requirements. It develops project plan and high level process map. Tools in Define phase are required to measure CTQ (Critical to Quality). The Pareto Chart and SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) are the valuable tools of this phase.
The main objective of this phase is to collect the data that is relevant to the scope of the project. This phase focuses on identifying the parameters that need to be quantified, ways to measure them, collect necessary data and carry out measurement by different techniques. Two commonly uses measurement techniques are – Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO) and Process Sigma.
Important tools in Measure phase are Process flowcharts, Benchmarking, Run charts, Gage R & R and Process sigma.
The main objective of this phase is to find the root cause of business inefficiency. It identifies the gaps between actual and goal performance, determine its causes and opportunities for its improvement.
Commonly used tools in Analyze phase are Histogram, 5 Whys, Hypothesis testing, Time series plots and Scatter plot.
This phase improves the process by determining potential solutions, ways to implement them, test and implement them for improvement. The plan is designed to mitigate the risk and include customer feedback and satisfaction.
Tools used to eliminate the defects are Brainstorming, Mistake proofing, Simulation software and Pugh Matrix.
The main objective is to generate a detailed solution monitoring plan to ensure that the required performance is maintained. It defines and validates the monitoring system, develop standards and procedures, verify benefits and profit growths, and communicates to business.
Important tools used in control phase are Process sigma calculation, Control charts, Cost saving calculations and Control plan.
Six Sigma DMAIC methodology, has been internationally accepted and can be implemented in small-size to high-profile firms.

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