Six Sigma DMAIC

DMAIC is an abbreviation, which stands for “Design-Measure-Analyze-Implement-Verify”.  The Six Sigma DMAIC methodology is a process improvement methodology, which aims at reducing the number of possible defects in an organization, by letting the process operate at a 99.9997% efficiency level. The DMAIC methodology brings about melioration in the process of any firm and thereby defines its outcome.

DMAIC is a systematic, statistical execution of any process under a controlled plan. It signifies the following five, unified stages:

  • It involves the defining of the process and its requirements in terms of quality, consumer satisfaction, company’s profit level, its market value etc.
  • Measuring its success based on its output.
  • Analyzing the difference in the current performance and the requirement and thereby identifying the components responsible for it.
  • One of the main stages of the DMAIC methodology is the Improvement of the process to eradicate the problems, which are providing resistance to the achievement of the desired requirements.
  • The last stage involves the controlling of the performance and achieving the desired requirements by implementing a new effective process under a controlled plan.

In today’s scenario, the business-sale going down has become a common topic. As a matter of fact, the companies demand their employees for better performance. However, the efforts are fizzling out and are reaching to no avail. History is replete with instances of the perspicacious tycoons who did not falter when confronted with a problematic ambience. They rather preferred being prudent, enough to dwell deep into the problem and thereby came out with a solution. The solution lies in the involvement of a better methodology, promising more reliability and efficiency. The Six Sigma DMAIC methodology emerges as a lively solution which functions at a 99.9997% quality level, by confining the number of possible defects to ‘less than 3.4 defects per million’, thus promising great success. The following illustrates well the systematic execution of the DMAIC process:

1.    Define: This is the first and the most important step of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology which calls for defining the process and its objectives. These objectives or the requirements could be in terms of consumer satisfaction, market value of the company, profit level of the process, quality control of the product etc. The main objective of this stage is to identify the problem, the requirements of the process and the factors, which may provide resistance to its execution. The following are the main key factors of this stage:

  • Define the needs and the demands of the consumers.
  • Identify the critical-to-quality (CTQ) characteristics of the process.
  • Define defect on the button.
  • Define a team to execute the process. The team should also have a ‘Champion’.
  • Study the level of performance of the process.
  • Define the current cost of the defect.
  • Obtain the approval of the senior management officers for the execution of the process.

The most applicable tools of this stage are the ‘Project Charter’, ‘Trend Chart’, ‘Pareto Chart’ and the ‘Process Flowchart’.

2.    Measure:
This step involves the use of various statistical and technical measurements with accurate metrics, to analyze the effectiveness of the existing process. This step helps the Six Sigma team members to analyze the performance level of the existing process and its deviation from the actual requirements. The following are the main key factors of this stage:

  • Measure the performance of the existing process.
  • Identify the performance requirements of the process with respect to its critical-to-quality (CTQ) characteristics.
  • Collect the data and identify the inputs, which affect the outputs.
  • Identify the factors, which may cause errors in the measurement stage.
  • Verify the existence of the problem based on measurements.

The most applicable tools of this stage are the ‘Fishbone Diagram’, ‘Process Mapping’. ‘Cost and Effect Matrix’, ‘preliminary Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)’, and the  ‘Gauge Repeatability and reproducibility (GR&R)’.

3.    Analyze: This stage involves the comparison between the current performance of the existing process and its requirements. This comparison shows the actual deviation of the existing process from its expectation and the requirements. Once the deviation is measured the problem causing this deviation is identified. This is a stage where practical problems are converted into statistical problems and are dealt with utmost care. The following are the key factors of this stage:

  • Identify the problem causing the deviation in the outputs.
  • A statistical approach towards the problem shows the inputs that are creating the variation in the outputs.
  • Study the changes in the inputs, which may affect the output.
  • Draw a conclusion based on the measurements.

The most applicable tools of this stage are the ‘Five Why’s’, ‘Tests for normality (Descriptive Statistics, Histograms)’, ‘Correlation/Regression Analysis’, ‘Analysis of Variances (ANOVA)’, ‘Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)’, and the ‘Hypothesis Testing Methods’.

4.    Improve: This stage puts forward a solution to the problem being analyzed in the last stage, After the analysis of the problem, the team finds the solution for the existing problems and refines the existing process. The following are the key factors of this stage:

  • Identify the ways to eradicate the existing problem.
  • Verify the inputs that are creating the problem and are causing the variation in the outputs.
  • Control the inputs that are creating the problem.
  • Measure the amount of DPMO decreased.
  • Design the changes in the existing process to eradicate the existing problem and get the approval of the management section for its implementation.

The most applicable tools of this stage are the ‘Process Mapping’, ‘Process Capability Analysis (CPK)’, and ‘Design of Experiment (DOE)’.

5.    Control:
This is the last method of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology and apparently, is the most important also. It helps to ensure that the problems that are creating variations in the desired output are rectified. The new process is implemented under a controlled plan to achieve the desired results, The following are the main key factors of this stage:

  • Verify the long-term capability of the implemented process.
  • Implement the new process under a controlled plan to ensure that the problems do not occur again.
  • Continually monitor the process to control the quality level of the product.
  • Measure the performance of the new process under a controlled plan and define its effectiveness.
  • At the close of this stage the information is passed to the process owner and the team responsible for the Six Sigma process. The team then decides the next stage.

The most applicable tools of this stage are the ‘Control Plans’, ‘Operating Flowcharts with Control Points’, ‘Statistical Process Control (SPC) Charts’ and the ‘Check Sheets’. 

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