One of the key benefits in following any methodology whether relating to business improvement or not – is that it has been already been proven to generate results. For many businesses this mitigates the risk of wasted resource and investment and at worse project failure.
Six Sigma is no different from many methodologies and has a broad set of tools associated with it– one of the key benefits it brings is this proven framework to deliver results. One of the common uses for six sigma is process improvement – Six sigma comes with a ready defined, and very effective, process improvement methodology called DMAIC.
The six sigma DMAIC methodology offers a number of benefits – its structured in such a way that it methodically analyses a process before attempting any improvements – that in itself is an important step – one of the primary reasons for business improvement failure is the lack of analysis that is done prior to implementing an improvement – which can result in failure to deliver improvements (in many cases it can actually make the system worse).
While its unfair to say that DMAIC will always deliver results (many organizations can spend extended time with the define and analyze stage and fail to reach the improve stage rapidly enough) – it is a widely used tool utilized in many different industries with a widely supportive community of consultants and experienced professionals ready to provide support where required.
The main components of DMAIC are:
Define – This stage defines the problem and the associated improvement goals
Measure – This stage analyses the process and collects data pertaining to the issue
Analyze – This stage analyzes the data collected at the measure stage and attempts to convey a cause and effect relationship
Improve – This stage creates and implements improvement steps to mitigate the causes highlighted above before they result in defects. A key aspect to this stage is implementation and there may be various test or pilot activities to ensure the intended improvements have the desired outcomes
Control – The final stage sets up control mechanisms to ensure that the improvements implemented are sustained and that the desired outcome is achieved.