What Is DMAIC?

DMAIC is short for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The term represents the five phases of a data-driven strategy for process improvement. It’s integral to the Six Sigma philosophy used for optimizing business processes. However, you also can implement DMAIC as a standalone strategy.

How the DMAIC Process Works

DMAIC is a five-step process. Here’s what each stage involves:


The Define stage involves defining the problem you want to address. This is the stage where you determine the outcome you want to achieve, map the process flow, establish the scope, and create a value stream map. According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ):

“Value stream mapping (VSM) is defined as a lean tool that employs a flowchart documenting every step in the process. Many lean practitioners see VSM as a fundamental tool to identify waste, reduce process cycle times, and implement process improvement.”

All of these details go into a problem statement. Other steps in this stage can include:

  • Mapping the process flow
  • Estimating the project’s completion
  • Identifying opportunities for high-impact improvement in business processes
  • Discussing bottlenecks with process participants
  • Identifying stakeholders

The goal of the Define stage is to gain complete clarity about the problem you need to fix, the outcome of your efforts, and the time you’ll need to complete the process.


Measuring involves understanding the current state of the problem. First, establish benchmarks to compare data against and then collect process data to compare it with the benchmarks. For example, you might compare your cycle time with the industry standard to see if there’s room for improvement.

In this stage take the following steps:


In the Analyze stage, you work to find the cause of the problem. To analyze potential causes, you can:

  • Perform root cause analysis (RCA) to identify the source of the problem. For example, you may have too much unplanned downtime because a machine overheats frequently. On the surface, it might look like the cooling system isn’t functioning correctly. However, the root cause might be the lack of a preventive maintenance schedule.
  • Use failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA). This analysis Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is the process that involves assessing the potential causes and impacts of equipment failures. It’s a proactive, data-driven, and team-oriented method for identifying the relative effect of various failure modes on productivity goals.
  • Understand the magnitude of the problem to get a better sense of how much time and effort it will take to achieve the desired outcome.

The Analyze stage is where you lay the foundation for execution. Obviously, once you know the problem, you can create a strategy to address it.


Next, in the Improve stage, you brainstorm and implement strategies and solutions to address the problem. You might have a single solution for your problem, or you might have multiple strategies that collectively address a more significant problem.

The Improve phase involves:

  • Outlining potential solutions using a Lean technique like kaizen events or consulting internal experts about the best solutions to implement
  • Creating an implementation plan
  • Informing stakeholders about the implementation plan, expected outcome, and required resources

Obviously, we know that implementing changes in a process can be challenging. You might need to retrain your staff and expect reduced production efficiency as they retool.

However, standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help minimize the friction resulting from the change. You can use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to create and implement automated SOPs. Your team members will always know what they need to do next.


This stage involves monitoring the new process and its effectiveness. Often, new processes can present new challenges. However, monitoring the process ensures you identify these challenges before they become significant problems.

In the Control stage:

  • Gauge the new process’s effectiveness using metrics you identified in the Measure stage to
  • Determine bottlenecks, if any, in the new process and create a strategy to eliminate or minimize them
  • Identify opportunities to make the process more efficient by using the 5S approach
  • Document these changes and monitor their impact on the process

This is the final stage in the DMAIC process. However, unlike other stages, the Control stage is ongoing. Subsequently, continue monitoring the new process as you continually adjust to improve efficiency.


The two terms, DMAIC and DMADV, are integral parts of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy. On the one hand, DMAIC focuses on addressing problems and improving existing business processes. On the other, DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify) focuses on engineering new processes, products, and services.

In fact, the first three stages of DMAIC and DMADV are the same. Whether trying to improve an existing process or design one from scratch, you should always define, measure, and analyze. However, when creating a new process, you don’t need to improve or control it. But, you do need to design the process and verify its effectiveness.

Key Differences between DMAIC and DMADV

Focuses on an existing process Focuses on designing new process
It’s reactive: it eliminates or minimizes problems in process It’s proactive: aims to prevent problems from the start
Develops specific solutions for process Redesigns process as part of solution
Ends with Control phase to monitor progress and ensure it addresses problem Ends with Verification phase to validate reengineered process

How to Implement New Processes with MaintainX

Accordingly, once you’ve tweaked a process, you need to implement it. However, the problem is that your employees will need time to adjust to the new process, depending on how much you’ve changed the process.

Automated SOPs make implementing the new process easier for your team from day one. With MaintainX, as soon as you add a new SOP, your team can access the step-by-step instructions on their mobile devices.

MaintainX is a mobile CMMS that helps create SOPs and checklists, which helps take the guesswork out of your processes. Furthermore, when your team has a question, they can use MaintainX’s built-in chat feature.

If you’re about to use DMAIC to improve your process, try MaintainX to create SOPs—it’s free.

author photo
Caroline Eisner

Caroline Eisner is a writer and editor with experience across the profit and nonprofit sectors, government, education, and financial organizations. She has held leadership positions in K16 institutions and has led large-scale digital projects, interactive websites, and a business writing consultancy.

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