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The Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) Process

Quality Glossary Definition: DMAIC

Define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) is a data-driven quality strategy used to improve processes. The letters in the acronym represent the five phases that make up the process, including the tools to use to complete those phases shown in Figure 1. 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

Figure 1: The DMAIC Methodology

The DMAIC 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 and 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.


Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify (DMADV) 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.

DMAIC resources

You can also search articles, case studies, and publications for DMAIC resources.

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

DMAIC Failure Modes (Six Sigma Forum Magazine) 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 (Quality Progress) 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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