DMAIC: A great consulting tool

DMAICDMAIC.  Ask any consultant, and I mean ANY consultant (strategy, process, IT) and they will know what DMAIC stands for.  It is an abbreviation  for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.  It is a tool often used in process improvement projects.  I am not a fan of jargon, but this one is worth learning, and using.  It’s good and keeps you on task.

If you hired a consultant and they used a five-box slide that looks like the one below to explain a project approach. . . chances are good it is some derivation of DMAIC .

DMAIC - Consulting blogWe use because it is simple, logical, and a good starting point.

D = Define. You need to define what problem you are looking at, and what your goal is.  Without this step, you might be solving the wrong problem (happens all the time).

M = Measure.  Before you can improve, you need to know where you are.  This is often laborious and time-consuming, but critical.   Are you getting a better price for the widget this time?  Impossible to know if you don’t know what you paid last time.  “You manage what you measure”

A = Analyze.  This is where the data analysis and experience come into play.  Figure out why things are wrong, broken, or not working.  The majority of consulting tools fit in here: fish bone diagrams, Pareto charts, maturity models, business cases, waterfall charts, RACI charts, RFPs etc. . .

I = Improve.  Make the change.  This can take 1 week (Kaizen event) or 2-3 years (think ERP implementation).  For strategy projects, consultants usually do the analysis, and make the case for change. Implementation is more often than not handled by the client – who does not want to pay the equivalent of 20 iPads per week per consultant for “implementing” the roadmap.

C = Control.  This harkens back to the six-sigma concepts of statistical process controls (blah, blah, blah), but let’s keep it simple.  Keep your eye on the process and improve it as you need to.

When you are improving a process, start with DMAIC and see if it helps.   As a silly mnemonic device:   DMAIC= Don’t marry an insane celebrity

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