Have you ever looked at your existing business processes and wondered how you could reduce variation in order to drive a more effective and permanent solution? It might be worth considering the DMAIC cycle.
Where did DMAIC originate?
DMAIC originates from the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle, a method for learning and improvement developed by Walter Shewhart, the statistician who developed statistical process control in the 1930s.
What is DMAIC?
DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control and is a structured approach to process improvement. It is a largely data-driven technique used for optimising and stabilising business processes and designs, specifically focusing on reducing inconsistencies. DMAIC is typically associated with Six Sigma studies, but can easily be applied as a useful framework for many different improvement projects.
What are the benefits of DMAIC?
DMAIC can support organisations in creating solutions that improve the quality of their products and services, it can increase revenue and decrease overall cost. One of the main enablers is reducing the likelihood of variation through achieving consistency. This will ultimately allow an organisation to dependably meet their customer expectations of their product or service.
For example, consider your favourite brand of coffee. Whenever you purchase this coffee from your preferred brand, you expect it to taste the same regardless of which store you visited. Inconsistency in taste will compromise your experience and prevent you from becoming a long-term consumer of that brand. This is true of many processes we experience as a consumer.
How do I implement the DMAIC process?
The DMAIC process consists of 5 steps:
- Define the problem. This is where we identify and describe the issue. This is a great time to collect Voice of Customer (VoC) data.
- Using our coffee example; VoC data may tell us that depending on which store consumers visit, the coffee varies in strength and temperature.
- Measure. The purpose of this step is to measure the process to determine its current performance and quantify the problem. This includes validating the measurement system, collecting our baseline data and narrowing the focus.
- Analyse. Here, we analyse the process to determine the root cause of the issue.
- For example, we may discover that despite using the same ingredients and products to produce the coffee, there is no standardised process across this particular brand of coffee shop for temperature and volume of milk per cup.
- Improve. Once the root cause is understood, we can begin to create solutions. This might include both quick fixes and long-term plans.
- In our coffee example, this could involve a short-term fix to use visual management tools for barista’s so they know the exact volume and temperature of milk to use for each cup.
- A long-term solution might be configuring the coffee machines to heat coffee and water to the same temperature, and introduce marked containers restricting how much milk should be used.
- Control. The final phase ensures the new standard is kept in place through developing continuous improvement measures. We also validate the benefits.
The DMAIC process is a six-sigma tool that is universal and can be used to improve multiple types of processes in virtually any industry. It focusses on eliminating variation to improve customer experience and expectation, and can ultimately improve your business efficiency and bottom line.
Want to know more about how DMAIC could help your business? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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