The Define phase of DMAIC involves defining the problems in a process, the goals of a project, the resources available, and so on.
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To improve a process, first problems, errors and/or defects that are leading to its low performance need to be identified. Define is the first phase of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) that specifies the business goals, the timeline and scope of a Lean Six Sigma project, and other expectations from the project.
Defining is a vital part of DMAIC, as it provides a clear understanding of the present status and availability of resources, and also the outcomes that need to be achieved from a project. It ensures that there are minimal differences between expectations and the results achieved.
A project team for the implementation of a Lean Six Sigma project is created after:
- Setting the objectives of the project
- Gathering facts that influence outcomes
- Establishing critical process outputs
- Considering impact on customers
- Assessing potential roadblocks and their fix
- Estimating the project’s benefits
- Evaluate resource availability
This first step of DMAIC establishes primary rules that help a company to implement a Lean Six Sigma initiative for process optimization. It concentrates the focus on the crucial factors that must be impacted by the project or factors that will impact the project.
Many times, to correctly define objectives and predict outcomes, companies conduct customer surveys (internal and/or external) or investigate their present systems to gather important data, that is then used to set goals.
The Define phase leads to the broader results in:
- Ensuring the success of the project
- Identifying and controlling crucial areas where problems are likely to occur
- Regaining focus on company goals
- Matching of customer expectations with company goals
- Making better decisions based on facts
- Clarity in understanding process and company goals
For a Lean Six Sigma team member, it is important to understand the following:
- Six Sigma methodologies, including DMAIC
- Variation and sigma
- Implementation models of Six Sigma
- Roles and responsibilities of the members of the team
- VOC, VOB, and VOE, and CTQ’s, COPQ
- A Process Map
- Basic Six Sigma metrics
- Project selection
- Utilization of a structured approach to select projects
- Identification of potential roadblocks
Lean Six Sigma is flexible and can be applied to a company in any industry. The systematic and highly effective approach has led many companies world over to drastically improve their processes, leading to higher production, better quality and lesser costs.
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