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Learn About Quality

The Define Measure Analyze Improve Control (DMAIC) Process

Quality Glossary Definition: DMAIC

DMAIC is a data-driven quality strategy used to improve processes. It is an integral part of a Six Sigma initiative, but in general can be implemented as a standalone quality improvement procedure or as part of other process improvement initiatives such as lean.

The DMAIC Methodology

What Does DMAIC Stand For?

DMAIC is an acronym that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It represents the five phases that make up the process:

  1. Define the problem, improvement activity, opportunity for improvement, the project goals, and customer (internal and external) requirements.
    • Project charter to define the focus, scope, direction, and motivation for the improvement team
    • Voice of the customer to understand feedback from current and future customers indicating offerings that satisfy, delight, and dissatisfy them
    • Value stream map to provide an overview of an entire process, starting and finishing at the customer, and analyzing what is required to meet customer needs
  2. Measure process performance.
    • Process map for recording the activities performed as part of a process
    • Capability analysis to assess the ability of a process to meet specifications
    • Pareto chart to analyze the frequency of problems or causes
  3. Analyze the process to determine root causes of variation, poor performance (defects).
  4. Improve process performance by addressing and eliminating the root causes.
    • Design of experiments (DOE) to solve problems from complex processes or systems where there are many factors influencing the outcome and where it is impossible to isolate one factor or variable from the others
    • Kaizen event to introduce rapid change by focusing on a narrow project and using the ideas and motivation of the people who do the work
  5. Control the improved process and future process performance.
    • Control plan to document what is needed to keep an improved process at its current level
    • Statistical process control (SPC) for monitoring process behavior
    • 5S to create a workplace suited for visual control
    • Mistake proofing (poka-yoke) to make errors impossible or immediately detectable


DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify) is a data-driven quality strategy that focuses on the development of new products or services compared to existing ones. The DMADV method or approach is often used when implementing new strategies because of its basis in data, its ability to identify success early, and its method, which requires thorough analysis. Like DMAIC, it is an integral part of a Six Sigma quality initiative.

Read more about DMAIC

To DMAIC or Not To DMAIC? Identify when you need a structured method for problem solving.

DMAIC Failure Modes (ASQ member exclusive) Read about actual experiences related to some of the key failure modes associated with DMAIC and effective countermeasures you can take.

How to Scope DMAIC Projects (ASQ member exclusive) Scoping is a vital part of the define phase and can have a long-term impact on a Six Sigma program’s ultimate success.

Excerpted from The Certified Quality Engineer Handbook, ASQ Quality Press.

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