The Five Phase of DMAIC Model – DMAIC Approach to Problem Solving

The Five Phase of DMAIC Model – DMAIC Approach to Problem Solving

What is the DMAIC Model? How we Solve Problem in Five Phase of DMAIC Model? DMAIC is an abbreviation for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

Since its inception in the 80s when it was used by engineer Bill Smith when working for Motorola, the Six Sigma methodology has gained much recognition. The Six Sigma methodology focus on three core elements including process improvement, process design, and process management under which concepts of Six Sigma stem from. These concepts have since been adopted widely across most, if not all industries.

The goal of any project management approach, including both LEAN Six Sigma and its predecessor Six Sigma methodologies should be to eliminate waste and streamline business production processes. While the primary goal of Six Sigma methodology is to eliminate waste and defects thereby streamlining production processes to improving their efficiency.

On the other hand, the Lean Six Sigma methodology focus on eliminating unnecessary wasteful processes to remain with only those steps that add value directly to the outcome of production processes. Ultimately, the goal of both approaches is to yield high-quality measurable outcomes with minimal cost.

What is DMAIC?

The DMAIC model is a part of the Six Sigma methodology. However, it is implementable on its own for quality improvement or within the Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma methodologies for process improvement. However, This model is a roadmap that aims at enhancing the quality of output of a company’s production processes. Also, DMAIC is an abbreviation for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, which summarizes the five phases of implementing the DMAIC model. Within these phases are 12 steps that guide the implementation of the model. Hence, the Six Sigma Training should include these steps.

The Phases and steps of DMAIC

DMAIC is a data-driven approach to improving the business processes to yield high-quality predictable outcomes.

Phase 1 of DMAIC Model: Define the problem

The purpose of the define phase is to describe the CTQ (critical to quality) problem, the target customer, and the business process involved. However, This typically involves coming up with a problem statement, project charter (goals, targets, and deliverables e.t.c), customer (internal and external) requirements, and creating a value stream map that gives an overview of the process to identify what may need to meet customer requirements.

Step 1: Project selection and scope

There are five critical steps to deciding which CTQ project to pursue and defining its scope. These include answering the following questions. 

  • What are the elements that define value in the organization?
  • Also, What opportunities and possibilities are there to add value to the business? 
  • What are all the possibilities available? 
  • What is the scope of this project and what is it about? 
  • Which project will be accorded top priority? 

Step 2: Defining the defect

The defect can best be defined as a problem within the process flow or customer requirement arising from feedback. In addition, this step substantiates very specific quality requirements related to the business process in question. Also, This is the point at which the customer requirement is broken down into CTQ (Critical to Quality) issues; with measurable elements from the process and performance, standard to be complied with.

Phase 2 of DMAIC Model: Measure the current process

Once the defect has been defined and relevant information gathered about the CTQ, the current performance of the process needs to be measured. In other words, This facilitates the process of defining improvement goals and implementing measurement tools, metrics, and criteria for the CTQ. However, the Information collected is updated in the project charter as required. It should be noted that the project should be quantitative to enable measurability and directly related to the process involved.

The measurement phase involves three steps including:

Step 3: Process map

All process activities based on the current performance of the business process are recorded.

Step 4: Capability analysis

This is the process through which the current performance level of the business process or its ability to meet specified process requirements is assessed.

Step 5: Goal determination

Based on the above performance, goals that will facilitate the process improvement are determined.

Phase 3 of DMAIC Model: Analyze the root cause of process defects

In addition, This is the stage at which the process is examined based on the data that was collected; to determine the difference between the current process performance and expected process performance. Also, A Pareto chart can be used to display the data to help investigate the cause of the identified problem.

However, Some quality improvement techniques that can be used to determine the causes of the problem include root cause analysis (RCA) for discovering causes; failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) for discovering failures in products, services, and processes; and Multi-Vari chart for detecting variations in processes. Through this process, the project charter should be updated as required.

There are two steps to this process which are:

Step 6: Brainstorming possible causes of variation

In addition, As the title suggests, this step involves trying to find out all possible causes of the variation resulting in the CTQ. These could be variations, failures, and defects.

Step 7: Determining the main causes of variation

Following the brainstorming stage is the determination of the exact cause of the variation; defect, or failure in the process, product, or service. This is a statistical process that makes use of the collected data and the techniques listed above.

Phase 4 of DMAIC Model:  Improve the process

The root cause analysis phase will present several improvement opportunities which should be prioritized for further scrutiny. Based on the priority, solutions for resolving the issues are determined during the ‘improve’ phase. Process maps for the new solutions should be created to help measure the improved process.

However, Some important techniques that can be adapted to eliminate the root causes include the Design of experiments (DOE); which is implemented to solve issues arising from complex processes; whose outcome is influenced by several factors that cannot be addressed in isolation. The Kaizen event is a technique that is suitable where there is a need to introduce rapid changes to the system; by implementing the ideas of the people who use the process or system.

This phase further involves two steps including: 

Step 8: Determining the most viable solution

The best solution is one that is implementable at a minimum cost with the lowest risk; will meet most if not all implementation requirements, and yield measurable process performance.

Step 9: testing and implementing the solution

The second step in this phase involves launching a pilot to test the proposed solution. This helps to identify the potential risk of failure associated with implementing the solution; to address it where possible before the actual implementation. Also, a pilot helps determine the cost of implementing the solution beforehand.

Phase 5 of DMAIC Model: Control the improved process

In conclusion, The improved process performance is monitored continuously to ensure that its standards are met and maintained. The procedures implemented during the control phase need to be documented for easy compliance and future reference. 

Also, For this a quality control plan will require for documenting the improved process procedures; a statistical process control (SPC) helps to monitor the process performance; proofing helps to make it possible to detect mistakes in the process promptly. Secondly, the improve process performance should be review from time to time not only to ensure optimal performance; but also to identify opportunities for further improvement.

This process involves the following three stages:

Step 10: Analysis of the improved process

This step involves the continuous monitoring of the improved process and analysis of performance to determine; if it has met the requirements or there still exists variations.

Step 11: proofing the improvement

Proofing the improved process makes it possible to detect and address mistakes as soon as they occur within the process.

Step 12: Documentation and handover

Process changes document in a quality control plan for future reference. In addition, this document should include vital information like an explanation of the cause of the CTQ issue; improved process control, and monitoring procedures, as well as a review mechanism of the improved process. 


While the DMAIC process improvement model stems from the Six Sigma methodology, it is implementable as a stand-alone. To yield optimal performance improvement in a process; it is important that the phases of the DMAIC model are implemented in order from the define; measure, analyze, improve, and control phases.  

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