DMAIC is a very powerful method and provides a framework for leading business improvement projects. The consistent rigor has led to many great results. However, I have also seen less successful DMAIC projects that took too long and/or generated little improvement.
As mentors, we all have seen inexperienced belts struggle with various tools. However, my experience shows that many projects fail to achieve desired results not because of incorrect or insufficient use of tools, but rather the use of DMAIC itself. As some skeptics have argued, DMAIC is not the best or only approach to process improvement. There are different and/or simpler ways of improving what we do. Deciding on when to use the full DMAIC method requires some experience and judgment.
What has worked for me is to assume that DMAIC is the right approach first, and then look for signals that help me decide whether to continue on the DMAIC path. The beauty of the DMAIC method is that it allows me to see these signals early in the Define and Measure phases. The following are a few examples.
Continuous improvement is not about projects, DMAIC or otherwise. In any case, concepts and tools used in DMAIC can and should be applied when appropriate.
I am sure many of you have similar and/or different criteria in choosing a full DMAIC, an alternative, or some hybrid approach. I would like learn about your experience and lessons in choosing the right method in your continuous improvement effort.