We know that everything in business is a process, right? Sales people have a list of companies and contacts that they work in a certain fashion to produce a sale, production receives an order and schedules the manufacturing, the product is built, packaged, shipped and invoiced. When the packing department has a problem with their process, though, should they fix it with a DMAIC or DMADV (also referred to as DFSS) type project?

The Similarities of DMAIC and DMADV

Let’s first look at the DMAIC and DMADV methodologies and talk about how they’re alike. DMAIC and DMADV are both:

  • Six Sigma methodologies used to drive defects to less than 3.4 per million opportunities.
  • Data intensive solution approaches. Intuition has no place in Six Sigma – only cold, hard facts.
  • Implemented by Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts.
  • Ways to help meet the business/financial bottom-line numbers.
  • Implemented with the support of a champion and process owner.

The Differences of DMAIC and DMADV

DMAIC and DMADV sound very similar. The acronyms even share the first three letters. But that is about where the similarities stop.

DMAIC Define
  • Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables
  • Measure the process to determine current performance
  • Analyze and determine the root cause(s) of the defects
  • Improve the process by eliminating defects
  • Control future process performance

When to Use DMAIC

The DMAIC methodology, instead of the DMADV methodology, should be used when a product or process is in existence at your company but is not meeting customer specification or is not performing adequately.


DMADV Define
  • Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables
  • Measure and determine customer needs and specifications
  • Analyze the process options to meet the customer needs
  • Design (detailed) the process to meet the customer needs
  • Verify the design performance and ability to meet customer needs

When to Use DMADV

The DMADV methodology, instead of the DMAIC methodology, should be used when:

  • A product or process is not in existence at your company and one needs to be developed
  • The existing product or process exists and has been optimized (using either DMAIC or not) and still does not meet the level of customer specification or Six Sigma level

“I Thought it Was a DMAIC, but it Turned out to be a DMADV!”

Occasionally a project is scoped as a DMAIC for incremental process improvement when it really required a DMADV methodology improvement. And it was a month into the project that you realized this! Do not be discouraged about the work you put into the DMAIC because 1) it has happened to more businesses than just yours, 2) you understand the process at a much greater detail than you did initially, and 3) you were able to practice not just DMAIC skills but also DMADV!

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and re-craft your define piece of the project so you can begin with a fresh look at the project and solutions. You never know what insights you will have now that you may not have been aware of before.

About the Author