What Is DFSS And How Does It Compare To DMAIC?

For those organizations that are constantly engaged in innovating their products or services, DFSS, an acronym for Design for Six Sigma, is not new. But the general statement by many that they are implementing  Six Sigma shows that they are a little bit confused – in most cases one will be using DMAIC, which is applicable in cases where there are products and services that already exist.

DFSS is more focused on innovating and designing new products or redesigning them to suit the business. The designing exercise can be started from scratch, as it has happened in many cases. Thus, DFSS is implemented for design of new products.


In actual practice, DFSS hardly differs from DMADV, an acronym which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify. It is this design factor which makes all the difference between DFSS and DMAIC. The designing or redesigning a process or a product arises by following the Define and Measure steps. You will notice that these are the same initial steps in DMAIC implementation. Even the analysis stage, going by the name, is somewhat similar.

Many experts acknowledge the difference in the analysis stage, even though the name suggests similarity. Analysis in DFSS has its intention focused on critically looking at vacuums that beckon new services or products from scratch or improving upon something. Whether the deployment proceeds to design stage depends on the outcome of pragmatic analysis.

Six Sigma practitioners hardly disagree that the suggestion of creating something from the ground up requires nothing less than a critical review of the need for the proposed product. The basis for such an analysis is the Voice of Customer and business objectives as defined in the first stage. This argument should also explain the objectives of choosing DMADV or DFSS.

How Does DMAIC Fare In The Wider View Of Things?

Six Sigma DMAIC, as everyone knows, encompasses every aspect of doing business. DMAIC emphasizes Defining, Measuring and Analyzing variations in processes already in place. The use of the right tools after defining each process for measuring critical parameters throws up deviations which otherwise would have continued to exist. All too clearly, the central force of DMAIC is applied at removing process errors and eliminating wastage, which consumes resources to unmanageable proportions. (This underlines the big savings achieved by GE, Motorola, Honeywell and many others over the years.)

DFSS has many variants which are practically being used by various industries. The reason for this variance is not all too difficult to comprehend, as the methodology is not still universally acknowledged so as to be standardized. Each one of the trainers might teach the concept differently which goes on to manifest as different implementation styles.

DCCDI, DMEDI and IDOV are the three significant methodologies now predominately in practice. DCCDI is an acronym for Define, Customer, Concept, Design and Implementation while DMEDI stands for Define, Measure, Explore, Develop and Implement. And finally the IDOV stands for Identify, Design, Optimize and Validate.