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As any project manager knows, projects are fluid, dynamic creatures, each with its own unique challenges and hurdles to wrangle. With any number of process improvement methodologies to integrate into an organization, finding the one that works for you and your team can be a challenge all its own.

The DMAIC process, a subset within the Six Sigma methodology, hails from the manufacturing industry and is most well-known for eliminating inefficiencies within a project. Favored by engineers, the DMAIC process is particularly rigorous, designed to help companies manufacture products nearly 100% defect-free.

What is DMAIC and why is it so successful? It is made up of five phases that can benefit any organization—read about them below or open our free DMAIC process template to start process mapping your next project.

dmaic methodology template
DMAIC Methodology Template (Click on image to modify online)

1. Define

Define the problem, project goals, and customer deliverables.

At this stage, you’ll need to decide what process to improve, taking customer needs and company goals into account, and how you’ll measure success. You might want to put together a project charter to get approval and buy-in from stakeholders before you make significant changes to a process. Process maps and timelines will then keep you on track to finish your project.

2. Measure

Measure the process to determine current performance and quantify the problem.

You have to know where you are before you can get to your destination (or, in this case, the goals you defined earlier). Collect data and document the existing process through a basic process flowchart, value stream map, or SIPOC diagram as shown below.

SIPOC diagram
SIPOC Diagram Template (Click on image to modify online)

3. Analyze

Analyze the process to identify core causes of poor performance.

Using all the data you’ve collected, you can determine the root of the issue. Return to the value stream map or other diagrams that you created earlier, or use a fishbone diagram, also known as a cause-and-effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram, to visualize possible causes.

fishbone diagram
Fishbone/Cause-and-Effect Diagram Template (Click on image to modify online)

4. Improve

Improve performance by implementing a solution.

Now comes the essential piece of this process: finding solutions and making changes to the process to reduce waste and better meet customer needs. Create a revised process map to show the difference between your as-is and to-be processes. In Lucidchart, you can add layers and hotspots to toggle between these two states.

5. Control

Control the improved performance and streamline future performance.

Once you have verified that your solution improved performance, you need to maintain that momentum. Share the process maps you have created so everyone understands and follows the new process.

Additional resources

New to Six Sigma and the DMAIC process or just looking to streamline your team’s organizational know-how? We’ve compiled a list of articles below to get you started. Learn how Six Sigma and the DMAIC process work, or explore why the DMAIC process may not even be right for your team and find out what process would work better instead.

Why Choose Six Sigma Methodology for Project Management
Six Sigma Process Mapping: Why It Matters and How to Get Started
Which Process Improvement Methodology Should You Use?
Limitations of Six Sigma Steps and What to Do About Them

You can’t always anticipate the problems of each project, but the right process improvement methodology, along the right templates, increases efficiency and project execution.

Sign up for your free Lucidchart account to start diagramming today.