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Six Sigma Process Improvement Methodology or DMAIC – Fuel-Up Your Organization with this Rewarding Model!


Six Sigma is a logically structured approach that enables continuous improvement of business processes with low defects.

To overcome the challenges of quality improvement and business efficiencies, managers must identify and implement the relevant tools, like Six Sigma, to evaluate and manage their operations, more effectively. Six Sigma is a measurement-based strategy that enterprises implement to enhance their business functionalities, thus ensuring maximum satisfaction to both internal and external customers. The fundamental concept of Six Sigma is to reduce functional or operational variations for consistent and desired outcomes.

The Philosophy:

The Greek letter “Sigma” is a statistical term and is known as the standard deviation of the process from its mean. Sigma measures how much a given process deviates from precision. Six Sigma methodologies enable organizations to measure all the defects in a process, execute tactics to eliminate those and reach (as close as possible) to zero defects.

The Six Sigma concept states:

  • Whatever businesses measure – acquires their focus, and;
  • Whatever the focus – leads to the process improvement.

Six Sigma expert, like Janam Sandhu, suggest that the best way to ensure the desired results is to improve the business processes. Organizations, therefore, must identify critical success factors for their business processes and define appropriate process metrics for measuring operational performances.

The Model:

Six Sigma adopts the DMAIC model for process enhancement, quality improvement, and problem reduction, however, primarily for existing operations.

This distinct process approach includes Five Phases – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control or DMAIC:

  • Define: This phase focuses on summarizing the project plan; specifying the concerns; the goals of the process improvement; the scope of the process improvement project; and identifying the customers (internal and external) along with their requirements.
  • Measure: This phase focuses on identifying parameters to be quantified, finding ways to evaluate those, collecting data that is relevant to the scope of the project, and executing the right measures using appropriate tools.
  • Analyze: The phase identifies the gaps between actual and desired performance, determine its root causes, and finding process improvement opportunities.
  • Improve: In this phase, quality leads help organizations to improve processes by identifying and evaluating potential solutions, implemented in consultation with process owners.
  • Control: The phase helps organizations in defining and validating the process monitoring plan, developing standards and procedures, verifying benefits and profit gains, and ensuring that the desired performance is maintained.

DMAIC is an integral part of the Lean Six Sigma process. Quality managers, however, can also implement DMAIC as a standalone quality and process improvement tool. Indeed, it is the most preferred solution that helps organizations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations.

The Tools

Within the DMAIC framework, Lean Six Sigma utilizes several quality management tools that are helpful in various process improvement projects and includes:

  • Cause & Effect or Fishbone Diagram: Developed by Kaoru Ishikawa (a Japanese organizational theorist, Engineering Professor at The University of Tokyo), the diagram’s shape is similar to a fish skeleton, thus, named as Fishbone or Ishikawa Diagram. The tool explores causes to a single effect/event through various brainstorming sessions. These causes are then aligned under the categories commonly known as 5-M or 6-M, where, 6-M expands as – Man, Material, Method, Machine, Measurement, and Mother Nature.
  • Flow Chart: It suggests the process flow in a diagrammatic way and outlines a pictorial representation of processes to understand their flow upstream or downstream.
  • Scatter Plot: It represents the relationship between two variables showing how one variable changes corresponding to any change in another variable. Scatter Plot depicts the following relationships:
    • Strongly Positive
    • Strongly Negative
    • Weak Positive
    • Weak Negative
    • Any Trend (Parabolic)
    • No Relation
  • Pareto Chart or 80:20 Principle: Developed by Vilfredo Pareto (an Italian economist and sociologist known for the mathematics to economic analysis application), the principle states, 80% of the outcome is a result of 20% causes. It is, essentially, a bar chart that represents the frequencies of various causes in descending order and highlights the critical factors from among a count of causes.
  • Histogram: A bar chart to understand the frequency distribution of data set as well as to study the nature of data.
  • Check-Sheet: Used to collect a frequency of factorized data.
  • Control Chart: Process heads use these charts to make sure that process data is properly analyzed and is within the desired control limits. Control Chart entails process control limits and sometimes involves customer specification limits as operational ranges. Whenever data goes out of set control limits, it certainly has some special causes that process heads need to investigate, identify, and eliminate.

Final Takeaway:

Six Sigma DMAIC is a highly structured and logical methodology that is internationally accepted and implemented by small-to-large-size enterprises. The structure has five important phases – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control – that form a circular chain of continuous improvement. The output of one phase is considered as input for the next stage, and at the end making sure that expected results are attained. This process improvement tool can realize incessant improvement that leads to excellence.

Janam Sandhu, the globally renowned Lean Six Sigma expert, believes that “Six Sigma is a mission – a passage for consistent improvement that does not end at any attained milestone.”

Join the wave of excellence through Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodologies that help organizations to increase bottom line profits and enhance customer engagements.

Posted on 07 August, 2019

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Categories : Lean Six Sigma White Belt Course

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Mumuni Ogundipe 29/09/2019

Recently started my Lean Six Sigma journey. And this is one of the best courses I have taken this year. Janan sandhu is a very good teacher and I recommend this course for anyone interested in Lean Six Sigma. Keep up the good work JS

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