DMAIC: Approach to Continuous Improvement

What is DMAIC?

The DMAIC model is one of the most popular and widely used methods to improve business functions or entire organizations. But, what does DMAIC stand for?

The DMAIC methodology consists of five phases, namely, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. These phases form the pillars of the DMAIC framework, allowing us to improve an existing business function or an entire organization to achieve improvement and effectiveness.

The DMAIC process is data-driven and drives through every intricate detail. It offers comprehensive ways to improve a business process or function. This model is applicable in every industry or field. However, it is best known for its symbolic contribution and application in Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.

Select a Good Project before starting DMAIC

This is one of the most crucial aspects of a successful DMAIC project. You might feel that selecting a DMAIC project involves picking up an issue, and applying its concepts. But no, DMAIC should not be used for just any issue or process. It should have a reason, and should meet the criterias for a good project.

Read to learn more about how to select a good project for DMAIC.

Why the DMAIC process?

By now, you understand what the DMAIC model is all about and how it benefits organizations and processes. DMAIC’s top-down and thorough approach not only helps you identify the root causes of an issue but also assists you in implementing an congruous solution. This adds to DMAIC’s popularity and flexibility, allowing it to be used in diverse industries and companies.

Not to forget DMAIC and its invaluable use and contribution to Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma projects. Therefore, DMAIC, if used properly and effectively, enables you to create foolproof strategies, improve and enhance the efficiency of processes, and more.

DMAIC and Six Sigma Relations

Six Sigma DMAIC uses the same concepts and applies them to create and solve Six Sigma projects. Six Sigma is oriented towards making a process or function more effective, and what better way to achieve it than by using DMAIC?

Although Six Sigma uses much more than just DMAIC and uses a lot of tools, data, and statistics, Six Sigma projects and its applications form their core around DMAIC. Read to learn more about DMAIC Six Sigma and DMAIC’s meaning.

The Phases of DMAIC

Let’s identify the five stages of the DMAIC methodology and understand each one’s role in improving business functions. Before we go further, you should know that this model is applicable across many domains and fields with successful implementations.

Infographics - DMAIC Phases


The Define phase is one of the crucial steps in the DMAIC approach, as it deals with defining the problem. The issue, or “Y,” must be well-defined and should be in tune with the organization’s goal. Then, after having a quantifiable and understandable problem definition, work towards factors that affect the process. This leads you to create an effective problem statement and define the variables that directly affect your goal.


This phase deals with breaking down our issue “Y” into a concise and easily identifiable output. Also, the key inputs or variables are further filtered to segregate in terms of their influence on “Y”. With this phase, we leave with a measurable “Y” and key inputs that directly affect the issue. This is achieved via creating an operational definition, and measurement plan, along with data collection and analyzing it. This phase involves using the Cause and Effect Matrix, FMEA, etc.


In this phase, we work towards streamlining the process, and isolating the errors that need to be corrected. The Analyze phase helps us understand the gap between current performance and the expected level of performance. This phase is important as it allows us to drill deep into the core of the issue. This enables us to get insights that are often missed as they are embedded deep into the process. The project is then simplified, and you have a clear picture of the project’s achievable goal(s).


The Improve phase focuses on, you guessed it, improvement! But this is one of the most challenging phases of the DMAIC process. From the analyze phase, we receive the root causes of problems. Now we turn towards fixing them. This phase pushes you to think of out-of-the-box solutions that are innovative and consistent. You need to do this because one function or process affects the others with a certain change. It is your job to make sure it runs smoothly, with a laid-out plan and process map.


This phase and its success directly correlates with how successful we are with the previous four phases. This phase is mainly associated with the performance or input changes as derived from the previous phases. Thus, if all things look good, the main task is to make sure that the process or function is always in control. This involves creating a process control plan, educational requirements (if any), etc. Therefore, make sure the key variables are always in the accepted range of variance.

For further learning about the DMAIC model and its varied applications, read: Creating a Business Strategy with DMAIC. Also, read to learn DMAIC in detail.


As we learned, DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The DMAIC method aims to improve existing processes and their productivity. This approach starts with finding issues, then understanding their root causes, creating an improvement plan, and then controlling the implementations. The result, if successful, paves the way for continuous improvement.

DMADV stands for “Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify.” The most important difference is that DMADV is used to develop new products and services. This methodology is designed and oriented towards being more customer-centric. Focuses on gaining deep insights into customers and using that knowledge to make design changes with development trade-offs.

Read to learn more about DMAIC vs. DMADV.

Benefits of DMAIC

The DMAIC definition and model follow a structured approach, which provides a business with a road map for creating effective solutions. This helps organizations solve problems right from their roots. Moreover, the DMAIC methodology leverages an analytical approach, data, and other tools to make foolproof and data-driven changes. This ensures accurate baselines, allowing organizations to find quality improvements, even for complex problems that are effective and precise.

Other benefits of the DMAIC framework are:

  • As the process follows a top-down approach, it allows equal participation as the process is easily understandable, irrespective of complex problems.
  • The DMAIC method dictates analysis before implementation (Improve phase), thus reducing the chances of fixing the wrong issues.
  • Most importantly, it helps in building team coordination and communication. This directly affects overall organization performance, creates a more vibrant work environment, and, in turn, leads to happy customers!

Practical DMAIC Examples

DMAIC has its advantages and benefits if used correctly on the right issues. Here is one real-life DMAIC example:


Let’s take a repetitive manufacturing process that has data available, making it a good project choice, even for the DMAIC Lean Six Sigma project. We’re making products, and we wish to increase the total yield.

  • DEFINE: First identify the issues (they can be products in this case). Then make a workflow, i.e., which machine has the most defects, which is lying idle, etc. Then, the goal (increasing the output without hampering the rate of materials passing through the machine, or without making the machines faster)
  • MEASURE: Clearly define what units or metrics will be used, like OTP (On Time Production), etc. Make sure that you provide these abbreviations in the report. Monitor for adequate time, at different demand cycles, to have thorough and meaningful baseline data.
  • ANALYZE: Identify and address variations, scan for any trends and patterns, and assess the mean and standard deviation. Use tools such as RCA (Root Cause Analysis), FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis). This will give you the variables that impact the process or “Y”.
  • IMPROVE: State and put in a process map that covers all the steps needed to achieve the desired results. If training or education is required, create a plan for the same. Monitor the process during different cycles, check the viability of changes, and if the desired results are achieved and consistent.
  • CONTROL: Implement measures for continuous improvement (e.g. standard operating procedures, process control).

Read to learn more about how Lean fits with DMAIC methodology. Also, read about real-life case studies and examples of how Six Sigma DMAIC comes into the picture and changes everything. Examples: Ford Motors, General Electric.

DMAIC Process with Lean Six Sigma Certification Training

Lean Six Sigma offers one of the most sought-after skills in the market, to help you perform improvement and efficiency projects. There is a lot to learn with Lean Six Sigma, as it covers DMAIC right in its initial Belts.

Lean Six Sigma is much more than improving a process, it also takes into account efficiency of a process. So, while you improve the process, you are also making it efficient, and that’s what makes Lean Six Sigma highly sought-after in plethora of industries.

SixSigma.us provides comprehensive and top-down training in Lean Six Sigma. Our mentors are industry professionals with successful Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC project implementations across diverse industries. We have more than 25,000 learners spread across 5000+ companies. The course is handcrafted, taking you across all the concepts of Lean Six Sigma, DMAIC, covering every base, and every aspect, along with practical examples, and support.