DMAIC - A data-driven tool for Process Improvement

Organizational change

Similar to PDCA, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) (pronounced də-MAY-ick) is a data-driven improvement cycle used for improving, optimizing and stabilizing business processes and designs.

DMAIC is said to be the core tool used to drive Six Sigma projects, but can be used as the framework for other improvement applications.

Step 1: DEFINE

Clearly define and document the business problem, goal, resources, project scope and high-level project timeline. Typically this is done in a project charter document.


The purpose of this step is to make sure the improvement is measurable: decide what you’re measuring, measure and record your baseline (your current state) and measure again at the end pof the project.

This step may take time to do it right: good data is at the heart of the DMAIC process.

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Using an Ishikawa or Fishbone diagram, identify the possible root causes of the problem.

Select the top 3 or 4 for further validation. Create a data collection plan and collect data to establish the relative contribution of each root causes to the problem. This process is repeated until "valid" root causes can be identified. Prioritize the validated root causes to pursue in the next phase (“Improve”).


Identify possible solutions to the selected root cause (methods can include simple brainstorming techniques and more complex Design Of Experiments / DOE). Then test and implement a solution to the problem.


The purpose of this step is to embed the changes and ensure sustainability, this is sometimes referred to as making the change 'stick'.

Document the changes in all relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Process Maps, Forms, Check Lists and provide training if needed.

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