So What is a DMAIC Anyway?

The often-used Six Sigma symbol.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world is full of acronyms and the latest buzz-words.  The world of manufacturing is no different:  TQM, TPM, Lean, Six Sigma, QRM, TOC, PM’s, RCM, the Deming Cycle, Zero Defects, Green Belt, Black Belt and now the DMAIC.  Is it any wonder that people are confused?  Let’s look at one of the trendy yet very useful terms.  What is a DMAIC?

DMAIC is part of a Continuous Improvement process known as Six Sigma.  Bill Smith, a Naval Academy graduate, formulated Six Sigma at Motorola.  Motorola won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award just two years after implementing the new Six Sigma process.  Smith was inspired by the work of Dr. Edwards Deming and other pioneers of the Quality movement.  Deming’s Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycle (PDCA) clearly influenced the DMAIC process.

English: Plan-Do-Check-Act Deming circle, also...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The DMAIC process consists of the following steps:

  1. Define
  2. Measure
  3. Analyze
  4. Improve
  5. Control

The power of the DMAIC process is not unlike the Deming Cycle.  Both are methodical Continuous Improvement processes that are effective at finding the root causes of the issue.  Both are also designed to apply sustainable countermeasures.  Finally, both processed are designed to verify that the desired results are sustained for the long run. Proper use of either the PDCA or the DMAIC process will bring sustainable improvements to your manufacturing process.


For more information on DMAIC’s, please see What is a DMAIC, Part 2 and 5 Reasons You Need to do a DMAIC.

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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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11 Responses to So What is a DMAIC Anyway?

  1. The DMAIC process is new to me Chris. Thanks for blogging about it. Even though I’m no longer part of a large organization, it is helpful to be reminded of processes for assuring quality.

  2. There are so many acronyms and with texting there are even more. I am familiar with CQI Continuous quality Improvement but I have not heard of DMAIC. I have not implemented a formal improvement plan for several years. I have my own version that use for my business. In this plan what does is control? Are you controlling the outcomes?

    • Hi Julia,

      The DMAIC process evolved from the Deming Circle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). I am not familiar with CQI but would not be at all surprised if that is also a variation of Deming’s work. You can use the DMAIC cycle to control virtually any process. It has been used for safety, quality, yield (scrap), and efficiency improvements in manufacturing to name a few. I have not used it in the service sector but it has been used there as well.


      • Hi Chris,

        I’ve used DMAIC in service mainly on telecom business to reduce the (a) reapeted call in to call centre,(b) Reducing telco billing dispute and (c) reduce chun rate in postpaid market (telco)

        I view all quality methodology be it TQM PDCA ,Lean, DMAIC or ISO 9001 as a lens/glasses a particular company wish to view its effectivess in creating value for its customer snd itself.

        The more serious one adopts bigger program and the small one may just stick to basic principle. At the end, all this boil down to what the direction and how committed are they in creating value for customer.

        As quality manager, i just want to see constant commitment from operationm regardsless of any metholodoly being adopted.

      • Hi Ganesh,

        The DMAIC or PDCA process should work in any improvement scenario – manufacturing, service, telecom, logistics, healthcare all have good examples. It’s good to hear of your application and insight. Thanks for being a frequent reader and for your regular comments.


  3. Hi Chris,

    I have heard of Six Sigma but not DMAIC. It was brought up in my corporate marketing days as being an effective way to determine ROI on marketing initiatives. Way over my head…….

  4. Well, well – DMAIC could be applied to writing a book too! I could write the acronym on a sticky note and stick it to my screen when I am re-writing, and bingo! A useful check-list, Chris.

  5. Pingback: Six Sigma Processes | Answer This Problem

  6. Gary Dwyer says:

    Just to throw another Six Sigma acronym “DMADV”, I beleive you cannot talk about DMAIC in isolation as some processes are tottaly broken or wrong for fit. We would simply measure & analyse and try and improve till we still end up with a poor process. DMADV or Define Measure Anaylse Designe Verify provides a framework to redisign a process fit for purpose rather than try and fit a round peg in a square hole.


    • Gary,

      Great insight. There is certainly a time and place for a DMAIC and the other tools of the trade. Knowing when and how is a skill that is needed to prevent using scarce and valuable resources on a project that ultimately fails due to a poor application. Thank you for sharing.


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