Updated: May 18, 2021
A Simple Guide to DMAIC phases, meaning and useful examples
What does DMAIC stand for?
DMAIC (pronounced “duh-may-ick”) is a process that focuses on structured problem solving. It is an integral part of Six Sigma, a method of continuous business improvement. The 5 phases of DMAIC are
What is DMAIC used for?
Put in the simplest of terms, DMAIC is structured problem solving. In Business, DMAIC is used for continuous improvement, that is, ongoing structured actions taken to improve processes. To improve quality, speed, efficiency, safety, customer experience, employee engagement, whatever we prioritize as most important to our customer, employees and business.
The DMAIC structure is a critical foundation to the success of improvement efforts mainly because of the discipline it instills; before we begin solving a problem, we need to understand it, to DEFINE the process, the customer and the problem. We then understand and measure the problem or opportunity, and so on.
Improvement using the DMAIC cycle allows us the time and space that we need to do each of these critical phases very well. Without this structure, you can imagine that most people would jump right to solutions without truly knowing what it is that should or could change. And many of these solutions that go into place do not have the expected impact and many times, in fact, they make things worse. DMAIC applies to all improvement projects, big or small, and in any type of process.
Simple DMAIC Example
The example of getting healthy is a good one for DMAIC. Let’s go through the phases of DMAIC one-by-one;
Stating the problem that I need to get healthy.
Decide that my “measure” for getting healthy is my weight
Identify the biggest contributing factors in my lifestyle. Let’s say empty calories and not enough exercise.
Come up with solutions to target those two specific causes
Create ongoing measures and habits to make sure you don’t slide back
This is all the opposite of buying a can of powder to help you lose weight and just hoping that it works...you see?
DMAIC is extremely important because as you’ll come to realize, the more complex the problem, the more we need a structure like DMAIC. Because, as we like to say, you've already done the easy stuff and already solved the easy problems. The only thing left are the hard ones! People and organizations continue to face the same problems month after month and all their ideas to solve it don't really end up solving anything - the same problem just shows up next month in a different pair of pants!