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DMAIC Defined

July 31, 2016 0 Comment

Paper , Order, or Assignment Requirements

Submit a paper that reports your experience with this Phase (Define) of DMAIC on your project.


Each phase of your project may present specific issues and problems that you have to overcome to move ahead and complete the phase. So as you develop and complete this phase (Define), take notes and be prepared to write a paper.

  • Make notes of your experiences as you go.
  • Evaluate your notes and your memory to determine the critical issues or problems you experienced in completing this Blackbelt task.
  • Organize and summarize your thoughts in a paper and explain any complicated issues.
  • Explain what you did to overcome these issues.
  • The length of the paper should be 2 to 4 pages


Required Reading

The Six Sigma methodology follows the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) roadmap for process improvement.

The Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology can be thought of as a roadmap for problem solving and product/process improvement. Most companies begin implementing Six Sigma using the DMAIC methodology, and later add the DFSS (Design for Six Sigma, also known as DMADV or IDDOV) methodologies when the organizational culture and experience level permits. You can read the main differences between DMAIC and DMADV, but we’ll focus on the DMAIC in this article.

While the DMAIC methodology presented below may appear linear and explicitly defined, it should be noted that an iterative approach may be necessary — especially for Black Belts and Green Belts that are new to the tools and techniques that make up DMAIC. For instance, you may find that upon analyzing your data (Analyze phase) you did not gather enough data to isolate the root cause of the problem. At this point, you may iterate back to the Measure phase. In addition, prior knowledge of the tools and techniques is necessary in determining which tools are useful in each phase. Remember, the appropriate application of tools becomes more critical for effectiveness than correctness, and you don’t need to use all the tools all the time.

DMAIC Phase Steps Tools Used

D – Define Phase: Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables.

  • Define Customers and Requirements (CTQs)
  • Develop Problem Statement, Goals and Benefits
  • Identify Champion, Process Owner and Team
  • Define Resources
  • Evaluate Key Organizational Support
  • Develop Project Plan and Milestones
  • Develop High Level Process Map • Project Charter
  • Process Flowchart
  • SIPOC Diagram
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • DMAIC Work Breakdown Structure
  • CTQ Definitions
  • Voice of the Customer Gathering


iSix Sigma, Six Sigma DMAIC Reference

Define Phase

Deliverables Of Phase:

  • Fully trained team is formed, supported, and committed to work on improvement project.
  • Customers identified and high impact characteristics (CTQs) defined, team charter developed, business process mapped.

Checkpoints For Completion:

Team Readiness

  • Team is sponsored by a champion or business leader.
  • Team formed and team leaders (MBBs/Coaches and BBs/Project Leads) assigned.
  • Improvement team members fully trained on Six Sigma and DMAIC.
  • Full participation by members in regularly held team meetings.
  • Team members perform project work when assigned and in a timely fashion.
  • Team members regularly document their project work.
  • Team is equipped with available and reliable resources.

Customers (and CTQs)

  • Customer(s) identified and segmented according to their different needs and requirements.
  • Data collected and displayed to better understand customer(s) critical needs and requirements.

Team Charter

  • Project management charter, including business case, problem and goal statements, project scope, milestones, roles and responsibilities, communication plan.

Business Process Mapping

  • Completed, verified, and validated high-level ‘as is’ (not ‘should be’ or ‘could be’) business process map.
  • Completed SIPOC representation, describing the Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers.

Questions To Determine Appropriate Application:

Team Readiness

  • Who are the improvement project team members, including BBs/Project Leads and MBBs/Coaches?
  • Has everyone on the team, including the team leaders, been properly trained (on DMAIC)?
  • Does the team have regular meetings?
  • How often are the team meetings?
  • Is there regularly 100% attendance at the team meetings? If not, have appointed substitutes attended to preserve cross-functionality and full representation?
  • If substitutes have been appointed, have they been briefed on the project charter and goals and received regular communications as to the project’s progress to date?
  • Has the project work been fairly and/or equitably divided and delegated among team members who are qualified and capable to perform the work? Has everyone contributed?
  • Are there any constraints known that bear on the ability to perform project work? How is the team addressing them?
  • How is the team tracking and documenting its work?
  • Is the team adequately staffed with the desired cross-functionality? If not, what additional resources are available to the team?

Customers (and CTQs)

  • Has the customer(s) been identified?
  • Are there different segments of customers?
  • Has the improvement team collected the ‘voice of the customer’ (obtained feedback – qualitative and quantitative)?
  • What customer feedback methods were used to solicit their input?
  • Have the customer needs been translated into specific, measurable requirements? How?

Team Charter

  • Has a team charter been developed and communicated?
  • Has the charter changed at all during the course of the project? If so, when did it change and why?
  • Does the charter include the following?
  1. Business Case: What are the compelling business reasons for embarking on this project? Is the project linked to key business goals and objectives? What key business process output measure(s) will the project leverage and how? What are the rough order estimates on cost savings/opportunities on this project?
  2. Problem Statement: What specifically is the problem? Where does it occur? When does it occur? What is its extent?

iii. Goal Statement: What is the goal or target for the improvement team’s project? Do the problem and goal statements meet the SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound)? Has anyone else (internal or external to the organization) attempted to solve this problem or a similar one before? If so, what knowledge can be leveraged from these previous efforts? How will the project team and the organization measure complete success for this project?

  1. Roles and Responsibilities: What are they for each team member and its leadership? Where is this documented?
  2. Project Scope: What are the boundaries of the scope? What is in bounds and what is not? What is the start point? What is the stop point? How does the project manager ensure against scope creep? Is the project scope manageable? What constraints exist that might impact the team?
  3. Milestones: When was the project start date? When is the estimated completion date? Is the project currently on schedule according to the plan? Has a project plan, Gantt chart, or similar been developed/completed? How did the project manager receive input to the development of the plan and the estimated completion dates/times of each activity? Is there a critical path to complete the project? How will variation in the actual durations of each activity be dealt with to ensure that the expected project completion date is met?

vii. Communication Plan: What are the dynamics of the communication plan? What critical content must be communicated – who, what, when, where, and how? When are meeting minutes sent out? Who is on the distribution list? How do you keep key subject matter experts in the loop?

Business Process Mapping

  • Has a high-level ‘as is’ process map been completed, verified and validated?
  • Has a SIPOC diagram been produced describing the Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers?
  • Is the improvement team aware of the different versions of a process: what they think it is vs. what it actually is vs. what it should be vs. what it could be?
  • Is the current ‘as is’ process being followed? If not, what are the discrepancies?
  • Are different versions of process maps needed to account for the different types of inputs?
  • How was the ‘as is’ process map developed, reviewed, verified and validated?
  • What tools and roadmaps did you use for getting through the Define phase?

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