DMAIC and Six Sigma go hand-in-hand. At some point – whether you’re a DMAIC project team, Six Sigma lead, or a Six Sigma Green belt trying to improve something for your organization – you’ll need to understand the DMAIC methodology tools used to help you work through the steps of your project. This article lists many tools to improve your DMAIC techniques in a Six Sigma project. Keep reading to learn more.
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What are DMAIC Tools?
To understand the DMAIC tools, you first need to understand the DMAIC process itself. The DMAIC process is a Six Sigma methodology for data-driven quality improvement. Combined with Six Sigma techniques, it is used to solve problems and improve processes. It comprises five phases forming the DMAIC acronym: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.
- In the define phase, the problem is defined, and objectives are set.
- In the measure phase, data is collected to quantify the problem.
- In the analyze phase, the data is analyzed to identify root causes.
- In the improve phase, solutions are implemented to address the root causes.
- In the control phase, controls are put in place to sustain the improvements.
You can use many tools at each stage of the DMAIC process. Let’s look at a few.
- Define: Some tools that you can use in the define phase include process mapping, process flow diagrams, and value stream mapping. These tools can help to understand the current process and identify areas for improvement.
- Measure: Some tools that you can use in the measure phase include data collection forms and checklists, process capability analysis, and statistical analysis. These tools can help to collect data about the process and identify areas where the process is not meeting acceptable levels of quality.
- Analyze: Some tools that you can use in the analyze phase include cause-and-effect diagrams, fishbone diagrams, Pareto charts, and scatter plots. These tools can help to identify the root causes of problems in the process.
- Improve: Some tools that you can use in the improve phase include brainstorming, design of experiments, and process simulations. These tools can help to generate ideas for improvements and test them before implementation.
- Control: Some tools that you can use in the control phase include process control charts, statistical process control, and process audits. These tools can help to monitor the process and ensure that improvements are sustained over time.
Descriptive statistics are also used to describe parts of a data set by generating summaries of data samples. These measures include:
- Measure of Central Tendency such as Mean, Median, and Mode.
- Measure of Frequency such as Count, Percent, and Frequency.
- Measure of Dispersion (Variation) such as Range, Variance, and Standard Deviation.
Advanced statistics like Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Correlation Analysis, and Design of Experiments (DOE) are used to solve problems and find more complex solutions.
The Seven Quality Tools in DMAIC
The “seven quality tools” are a set of statistical and graphical Six Sigma methods used to help define, measure, analyze, improve, and control processes. They include:
1. Check Sheets
The Check Sheet is a simple document used to record information as it is being created. Simply stated, it’s a blank form filled out so that data can be organized and collected quickly. Check Sheets are a standard Six Sigma tool for collecting information on the frequency and severity of issues with a certain product or service.
You can use Check Sheets to log information about both variables and attributes. The information gathered may be quantitative or qualitative. In addition, you can feed the data collected into other quality analysis instruments, including histograms, bar graphs, and Pareto charts.
2. Graphs (Trend Analysis)
The purpose of conducting a trend analysis is to better anticipate and plan for the future by recognizing trends in historical data. While various methods are available for analyzing trends, graphs are a common way to see patterns emerge.
Six Sigma teams typically deal with enormous amounts of data, so much so that it is impractical to convey the information using the raw data alone. Instead, when trend analysis data is displayed graphically, the underlying patterns and relationships between process parameters become clear. The first step in any strategy to improve a problem is usually a trend analysis of the issue at hand.
Histograms are useful for visualizing how data is distributed by frequency in a Six Sigma project. The goal is to arrange the data in a way that makes sense. A histogram’s key benefits are its ease of use and adaptability.
There are a variety of contexts in which you can apply this tool to provide a helpful glimpse into a frequency distribution. It can be used in the realm of sales and marketing, for instance, to determine the best price structure and advertising strategy. With Six Sigma, you can use it to analyze processes for sources of variation. By determining the frequency of delays in each stage of the process, you can illustrate where the delays are happening.
4. Pareto Charts
The Pareto Chart is a great tool for analyzing processes since it graphically displays the relationship between the source and the cause of problems. The Pareto Chart is your best bet when you need a quick visual representation of where most of your process’s issues are coming from. In addition, you can develop a successful approach to reduce a project’s complexity with the help of a Pareto Chart at the early stage of a Six Sigma process improvement project.
5. Cause-and-Effect Diagrams
Cause-and-effect diagrams are used to identify and measure the relationships between different variables. Six Sigma experts employ tools like cause-and-effect diagrams to create a visual method for identifying potential root causes of an issue. This tool can benefit both the analyze and improve phases since you can use it to anticipate and prepare for possible failure scenarios.
6. Scatter Diagrams
A scatter diagram is a graphical representation of a collection of data that uses the relationship between two variables to draw conclusions. It’s a fantastic tool for displaying nonlinear correlations between variables, and it’s frequently employed in Six Sigma strategies to reduce decision risk and understand how two factors impact or don’t impact each other.
7. Control Charts
When assessing the stability of a process or operation across time, a Six Sigma control chart is a simple yet potent tool. A control chart consists of a graph that spans a specific time, a central line that displays the outcomes of a process throughout that time, and upper and lower limits that show whether the variance in the process is acceptable or not.
The DMAIC process is a powerful Six Sigma methodology tool that can help you improve processes in the workplace. Applied correctly, it will result in some effective solutions to issues. In general, these tools can help you and your team improve your work and better implement the DMAIC process. With that said, to maximize your benefit from these tools, you will have to learn how to use them effectively and understand how to utilize your team to work with you on the issues you are facing during a Six Sigma project.