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Which Methodology to Use? DMAIC or DMADV

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 7/3/2012

"Six Sigma is a way to do things better, faster and at a lower cost," according to Jim Parnella, Six Sigma expert. So which methodology is better to use on your projects? We answer the question, DMAIC or DMADV?

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    Six Sigma on 30 Rock by ToastyKen The popular acronyms of Six Sigma, DMAIC and DMADV may seem similar when compared. Not true say the experts and deciding which Six Sigma methodology to use can mean the success or failure of your projects. The only similarity between the two is they both use a non-intuition approach and stick to cold, hard facts.

    The DMAIC should be used for processes or products within your own organization that manage deliverables to your clients. DMADV, on the other hand is best used if you have never implemented Six Sigma into your products or processes; or a Sig Sigma starting point.

    So many project managers get confused on Six Sigma and through mere explanation, says Jim Parnella, it's easy to get the point across. Jim Parnella gives what he calls his 30-second "elevator speech" on Six Sigma often. "Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach to process improvement aimed at the near-elimination of defects from ever product, process and transaction. The purpose of Six Sigma is to gain breakthrough knowledge on how to improve processes to do things better, faster, and at a lower cost. It can be used to improve every facet of business, from production, to human resources, to order entry, to technical support. Six Sigma can be used for any activity that is concerned with cost, timeliness and quality of results. Unlike previous quality improvement efforts, Six Sigma is designed to provide tangible business results, cost savings that are directly traceable to the bottom line." Mr. Parnella's 30-second explanation of Six Sigma is by far the best I've come across.

    If we use his explanation as a base, it's easy to identify which is best, DMAIC or DMADV?

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    The Right Approach

    The DMAIC Six Sigma methodology stands for, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The DMADV methodology stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify. Let's look at both of them.

    DMAIC - Use this approach when the products or processes at your organization are not meeting customer demands or not performing accurately.

    • Define - Define the goals and what the client wants. Look at both internal and external forces.
    • Measure - Measure your current processes. Are they working?
    • Analyze - By analyzing your current processes and finding out the root causes of the problems or defects you can then improve them.
    • Improve - Improve the defects you've identified.
    • Control - Set up good controls that can be implement and used on all processes. Use the areas you have identified and fixed.

    DMADV - Use this approach when the products or processes at your organization don't even exist, at any level. Think of DMADV as your baby steps into Six Sigma.

    • Define - Define the goals of a project both internal and external.
    • Measure - Measure the client's needs and specifications.
    • Analyze - Analyze how you are going to meet the customer's needs.
    • Design - Design a good process that includes change management controls, project scopes, human resources, budgets and be very detailed on how each part of the process will be delivered or handled.
    • Verify - Verify your Six Sigma approach. Did it work? Were there defects? If so, begin again.

    Hot issues in Six Sigma are thrown around left and right. There are green belts, black belts, master black belt leaders, and the familiar saying, "Six Sigma is used to drive defects to less than 3.4 per million opportunities." Six Sigma can be used through trial and error or some top managers will invest time into Six Sigma Training. Six Sigma training is the hottest issue around right now and through this training comes knowledge, networking and insights into your processes and how to improve them.

    Get more information on Six Sigma Training at SixSigma.US and by visiting our Project Management Media Gallery for templates and more hot topics in Six Sigma.