Six Sigma was an original business management strategy developed in 1981. Today, it is widely used around the world and in various industrial sectors. It works by improving the quality of process output through the identification of errors and minimizing variability in business processes. Basically, it uses a set of quality management techniques including statistical analysis. Each project follows a sequence of steps and has defined, quantified targets (i.e. increase profit) and/or focuses on critical customer service areas (i.e. delivery of products). It is associated with manufacturing processes whereby defects are kept to a minimal using a high standard of measurement.
DMAIC stands for Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control and it represents a methodology of five distinct phases. Many improvement teams in different industries apply Six Sigma DMAIC to root out and eliminate causes of defect. Here’s a brief explanation of each phase:
(1) Define. Problems need to be defined before they can be addressed. It can be anything from customer dissatisfaction to need to achieve specific project goals.
(2) Measure. Key areas of the current/ongoing process needs to be measured and relevant data needs to be collected. This is crucial before the team can move on to the next phase. Without accurate measurement, the following steps cannot be carried out.
(3) Analyze. Data collected need to be investigated to establish cause-and-effect relationship. All factors that could be of influence must be taken into consideration. Determine what the relationships are and seek out root cause of the defect.
(4) Improve. The current process should have room for improvement and teams can use various techniques (i.e. experiment design) to create a new process. Then, run the process to determine capability of the new system.
(5) Control. New processes are then controlled to minimize defect occurrence. Control systems are also introduced and people are assigned to monitor the system.
Six Sigma DMAIC or DMAIC are systematic processes to help organizations establish better output. It helps to learn more about this process and how it’s applicable to you and your company.