PDCA vs DMAIC Methodology: Which Works Better?

PDCA vs DMAIC Methodology: Which Works Better?

When tackling a problem or trying to improve a process, there are two main ways to take action: PDCA and DMAIC. But how do you decide which process improvement model to use? Each model has different approaches and emphasizes various aspects of the process. In this article, we will compare and contrast PDCA vs DMAIC. By understanding the differences between PDCA and DMAIC, you’ll understand which methodology is best for your Six Sigma process improvement project.

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PDCA Cycle

A PDCA Cycle is a Six Sigma quality improvement methodology that consists of four key steps: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. PDCA aims to improve processes by identifying potential problems and implementing solutions continuously.

There are four steps in the cycle:

  1. Plan: The first step in the PDCA Cycle is to develop a plan for process improvement. This plan should identify the problem or opportunity and the objectives for the project.
  2. Do: The second step is to implement the plan. This involves putting the plan into action and collecting data to track progress.
  3. Check: The third step is to review the data collected during implementation and to determine whether the desired results were achieved. If not, the plan may need to be revised.
  4. Act: The fourth and final step is to take action based on the review’s findings. This may involve implementing changes to the process or continuing to monitor progress.

PDCA is an essential tool in Six Sigma for quality improvement projects. It can help organizations identify problems and implement solutions to improve process efficiency and effectiveness.

DMAIC Methodology

DMAIC is a Six Sigma quality improvement methodology that consists of five key steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The DMAIC process aims to improve process quality by identifying and eliminating defects.

There are five steps in the cycle:

  1. Define: The first step in the DMAIC Process is to define the problem or opportunity. This includes identifying the goals and objectives for the project.
  2. Measure: The second step is to collect data to track progress. This data will be used to identify areas for improvement.
  3. Analyze: The third step is to analyze the data collected in order to identify the root causes of problems or opportunities for improvement.
  4. Improve: The fourth step is implementing solutions to address the problems or opportunities identified in the previous steps.
  5. Control: The fifth and final step is establishing a plan to monitor and control the process going forward. This plan should include mechanisms for addressing any new problems that may arise.

The DMAIC Process is an important tool in Six Sigma for quality improvement projects. It can help organizations identify and eliminate defects and improve process quality.


When process improvement experts square off, the argument usually centers on the relative effectiveness of their respective iterative approaches to addressing issues. The PDCA methodology is a cornerstone for process improvement, whereas the DMAIC framework is central to Six Sigma.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the similarities and differences between PDCA and DMAIC:


The similarity between PDCA and DMAIC comes down to the fact that both strategies share a similar ancestor: the use of the scientific method to improve commercial challenges. Both approaches aim to solve issues. The objective is to give improvement efforts some structure and to avoid the frequent mistake of making changes to a problem without first investigating its origin.


The difference between PDCA and DMAIC is the corporate infrastructure required. For example, Six Sigma and the DMAIC methodology require a steering committee, tollgates, a champion, and a project sponsor. In contrast, PDCA can be a day-to-day method taught and used by front-line staff level to do fundamental problem-solving.

PDCA appears to be less complicated and more direct. It is the most broadly known and applied problem-solving methodology and has a structure of only four steps. Six Sigma practitioners can resolve the majority of issues in commercial settings with it. Its problem-solving mindset can be used across the board, allowing you to improve hundreds of problems daily.

The DMAIC philosophy is more in-depth. It tends to be useful for tackling complex problems on a large scale. DMAIC users must have the necessary technical expertise to lead-problem solving initiatives while employing this method. This individual leading a project will likely have attained a Six Sigma certification and training on using the technique to improve processes.

Which is Better for Process Improvement?

When executed properly, each strategy has the potential to yield positive benefits for any business. Choosing between PDCA and DMAIC is less of a scientific comparison and more of a matter of personal choice and ease of use. The PDCA cycle is simple to grasp, implement, and employ in less formal settings. It’s an excellent means of gaining knowledge and experience in management methodology.

Considering that DMAIC is the same paradigm as Six Sigma, it is the clear choice for businesses who wish to use the Six Sigma methodology. Additionally, this approach is data-driven, making it a more appealing choice for leaders who like to carefully consider all of their alternatives before making any decisions.


There are many factors to keep in mind while deciding between the PDCA and DMAIC models to improve processes, including the phases involved in each model, the nature of the problem at hand, and the resources and expertise you currently possess. A structured approach to solving an issue can improve your technique regardless of your chosen strategy.

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