Minitab surveyed nearly 200 Six Sigma practioners about the techniques they use for project success. The DMAIC method is the roadmap of choice among many practitioners and this bar chart lists some of the vital keys to success associated with the DMAIC method.When I first started learning about Lean Six Sigma and familiarizing myself with all the different terminology and methodologies, I was a little overwhelmed and confused by all the acronyms. FMEA, C&E Matrix, Gage R&R, SIPOC, DMAIC…the list goes on and on!

However, I really got tripped up by the similar-sounding acronyms of DMAIC, DMADV, and DFSS. These acronyms stand for the most common Lean Six Sigma project methodologies, which help quality improvement practitioners keep their projects focused with an established route to follow for completion. Each methodology is made up of five phases and the name of each phase makes up each letter in the acronym.

First off, DMADV and DFSS are essentially the same process. DFSS stands for “Design For Six Sigma,” and is just another name for DMADV. 

DMADV (DFSS) stands for these five phases of a Lean Six Sigma project that’s aimed at creating a new product or process design:

D — Define process and design goals
M — Measure (and identify) critical-to-quality aspects of your process/product, including risks and production capabilities
A — Analyze to develop process designs and evaluate to select the best design for your process
D — Design process details and optimize your design. Test your design(s)
V — Verify the chosen design for your process with pilot-testing. Implement and monitor the new process

DMAIC is the more well-known and most-used Lean Six Sigma project methodology and is focused on improving an existing process, rather than creating a new product or process like DMADV.

D — Define the problem with your product or process.
M — Measure your current process and collect data.
A — Analyze your data to find the root causes of defects.
I — Improve your process based upon your data analysis and test it. (Techniques like DOE and poka yoke are often used in this phase.)
C — Control  your new process and monitor for defects. (SPC techniques are helpful in this phase.)

Eston’s post from September 2011 highlighted the best ways to ensure your lean Six Sigma Project succeeds based upon a Minitab survey of nearly 200 Six Sigma practitioners at all skill levels from major companies.

One of the most important components of good project selection is choosing a project most likely to benefit from the DMAIC approach. In other words, a good project involves a measurable defect, or a process for which changes can be measured accurately. However, whether or not you are using DMAIC or DMADV, the real benefit of these methodologies is picking an approach and sticking with it without skipping any steps or phases.

To help quality practitioners stick to the DMAIC approach, Minitab software offers a few special features:

In Quality Companion 3, the customizable Roadmap is delivered with a DMAIC template that includes Coaches with suggested project-based soft tools and forms at each phase. If your quality team had additional steps, they can easily be added to the Roadmap to create your own template for future projects.

Quality Companion Roadmap

In Minitab 16, the DMAIC toolbar can be used to access the statistical tools needed for a Lean Six Sigma project that follows DMAIC:

Minitab DMAIC Toolbar
To display the DMAIC toolbar in Minitab 16, choose Tools > Manage Profiles. Then move DMAIC into the Active Profiles field. Ensure it's the only item under Active Profiles. Then click OK, and the DMAIC Toolbar should appear.
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