In my last post we finalized our project Charter and successfully completed the Define phase of the DMAIC cycle. We are now ready to rally our team and gather the necessary data to complete the Measure phase.
The primary goal of the Measure phase is to collect reliable data on the quality, speed and costs associated with the process so that you can hopefully expose the Root Cause of the problem.
Unlike the Define phase of which the primary deliverable is the project Charter the Measure phase can have multiple deliverables including but not limited to:
As stated in my last article on the DMAIC LSS cycle the first step in getting from point A (the problem) to B (the solution) is to go through each step of the DMAIC cycle beginning with the Define step.
During the Define stage our main focus is on understanding if we in fact have the right project along with the best project to do right now. If we don’t have the right one we may need to postpone it, re-shape it or cancel it all together.
All proposed projects have to meet the following in order to be worthy of our time and resources:
The Voice of Customer (VOC) is understood.
The Scope is clear.
What the process produces that can be measured.
A set of clear goals for the process measurements.
The value to the company is understood.
The project has at least one Champion and access to the Process Owners.
It is the right project to be working on (currently).
DMAIC (pronounced “duh-may-ik”) is a structured problem solving methodology and an acronym for the five phases of the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) improvement process: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The steps are in order and allow members on a team to isolate a problem and remedy it using a multitude of tools available to LSS team members.
The framework of DMAIC allows teams to use their creative thinking while not drastically changing the current process, service or deliverable. DMAIC is not the end all solution for every problem out there however. If in the discovery phase of a process it is revealed that the process is so badly broken that you need to start over you are advised by this author to pursue DMEDI or Design for Lean Six Sigma which is not covered in this series.
So now that we have established at a ten thousand foot view what DMAIC is and that it should be used on processes that are somewhat salvageable we need to ask how to implement a DMAIC LSS project. Most reading this will be assigned DMAIC projects by their supervisors, sponsors or higher ranking belts within the LSS framework. If this is you, and this is your first project fear not my young grasshopper as we are going to draw on the wealth of knowledge that is available to map our way to a successful DMAIC LSS project.
“Daddy what is Six Sigma?” I hear my 11 year old daughter ask from the passenger seat as we get ready to leave the bookstore where I had purchased a Six Sigma book. I thought of what to say and for some reason the definition that follows just did not seem appropriate.
Six Sigma Textbook Definition : The Six Sigma methodology is a business-management strategy designed to improve the quality of process outputs by minimizing variation and causes of defects in processes. It is a subset of the TQM methodology with a heavy focus on statistical applications used to reduce costs and improve quality. It sets up a special infrastructure within the organization that is specifically trained in statistical methods and problem solution approaches that serve as the experts in these approaches.