Use DMAIC to improve your project processes

DMAIC is a problem-solving approach that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

The DMAIC model is derived from the Six Sigma methodology, which was developed by Motorola in the 1980s as a structured and systematic approach to quality improvement. The goal of Six Sigma is to reduce defects and variability in processes and products. It is based on statistical analysis and the use of data and measurable results to drive decision-making. While it was designed for use on production lines, the model is also helpful for improving the quality of PMO processes and other project management processes.

The DMAIC model is just one of the many tools within the Six Sigma methodology. It is used to address problems or opportunities in a structured way. It provides a template for defining the problem (or opportunity!) and tackling it successfully.

Five DMAIC Steps

DMAIC is a structured method for identifying and addressing problems in a systematic way, and it is commonly used to improve processes, products, and services. Here’s a brief overview of each step in the DMAIC process:


    1. Define: In this step, you identify the problem or opportunity you want to address. This involves defining the problem’s scope, determining the project’s goals and objectives, and identifying the stakeholders who will be affected by the solution.
    2. Measure: In this step, you gather data and information about the current state of the problem or opportunity. This involves collecting data on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to the problem or opportunity and establishing a baseline against which progress can be measured.
    3. Analyze: In this step, you analyze the data and information collected in the Measure step to identify the root causes of the problem or opportunity. This may involve using tools such as cause-and-effect diagrams or statistical analysis to identify patterns and relationships in the data.
    4. Improve : In this step, you develop and implement solutions to address the root causes of the problem or opportunity. This may involve making changes to processes, products, or services or implementing new systems or technologies.
    5. Control: In this step, you establish controls to ensure that the improvements made in the Improve step are sustained over time. This may involve setting up monitoring systems to track progress, implementing changes to policies and procedures, or providing training and support to employees to ensure the improvements are sustained.

Using DMAIC to improve PMO and Project Processes

Because it is a structured and systematic approach to problem-solving, DMAIC is a great tool for PMO people and project managers who need to improve processes as part of their role. It is beneficial for PMO Analysts and anyone involved in the continuous improvement of an organization’s delivery frameworks. DMAIC can be applied to agile delivery approaches as well as traditional models such as those based on PRINCE2.
The model can help analysts and project managers identify and address problems in a logical and orderly way. The model helps to define the problem or task at hand clearly. Getting everyone to agree on a common definition is often a massive achievement in its own right! Measuring before undertaking any improvement activity ensures you can accurately assess the benefit of any improvement experiments you undertake. This can be really useful when communicating your hard work to stakeholders.
The DMAIC model can be used for improving PMO processes, such as reporting and onboarding. It can also be used within projects – especially business improvement, transformation and automation projects. Indeed, any projects that have well-defined performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) can use DMAIC. By following the steps of the DMAIC model, project peimanagers can ensure that they are making informed, data-driven decisions that are based on a thorough understanding of the problem at hand.

Continuous Improvement in Agile Environments

Agile teams can benefit from applying the DMAIC model too. The Agile Manifesto has a principle that states:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Agile coaches can help teams use DMAIC to help reflect on processes and see the impact of different experiments. The model can also be used as part of more significant initiatives to improve Value Streams across the organization.

Learn more about the Agile metrics and measures that can be used in the ‘Measure’ phase of agile process improvement projects in our article on Agile Metrics here: 

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