Imagine you are a process improvement practitioner and you receive an important assignment from a senior manager to improve a business process. You quickly assemble a project team of subject matter experts and process operators to define the project charter and process defect of interest. After understanding the current state of the process and gathering process performance data, the team brainstorms root causes and associated solutions to reduce the occurrence of the root cause. However, in the midst of the project’s progress, a stakeholder from a downstream process indicates that his charge from senior management was centered around process redesign because previous improvement attempts were not successful. What could you have done differently to prevent restarting the project with a different focus?
To improve processes, most process improvement practitioners utilize one of the two most common Six Sigma methodologies, DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC can be used to improve existing processes while DMADV is used when there is no existing process to improve.
DMAIC contains five phases of work called Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control while the DMADV phases are Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify. The practitioner needs to understand the key components of the phases to properly plan the work and select tools to accomplish the work. As the acronyms for the phases indicate, there are similarities and differences in the methodologies that must be revealed. There is a process that can be followed to aid the practitioner in the careful selection of the improvement methodology. Fortunately, if an incorrect methodology is selected, a fair portion of the initial project can be reapplied to the appropriate methodology as part of a recovery process.
Does your company have processes in need of improvement? How comfortable are you deciding which methodology to use? While both methodologies present an opportunity to significantly improve business performance, it is critical to understand how to properly select and apply either the DMAIC or the DMADV methodology. Because the acronyms are similar, there is a risk of confusing the methodologies and misapplying them during improvement initiatives. The Accenture Academy course Selecting between DMAIC and DMADV Methodologies
will allow you to proceed with confidence in your improvement projects.