Manual to Automated Using DMAIC?

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    I’m fairly new to most of this, I understand using DMAIC when you’re trying to find a problem and correct it in your current process, but how do you use it when you already know what you want to do basically. Especially when your wanting to automate a manual process, but you have to take it through DMAIC to prove what already is known. Little background this is for the Operations Center of a Financial Institution. Please help, thanks!



    There are many responses and follow up questions that flashed through my head when reading your question.

    Short answer:
    DMAIC is best suited for when you have a defect or defects in a process when the solution is unknown. Force fitting a known solution into the methodology is a waste of time and energy, this sounds like a PM (Project management) or JDI (Just do it) exercise if that is going to be your final outcome.

    That being said, are you absolutely sure automation is the ‘right’ solution? If you are not completely sure then taking a step back and defining the problem/defect, measuring your current state and doing some VOC-CTQ analysis along with process mapping may shed some light on the true root causes within the process and allow for a more robust, data driven solution set.

    I lead Green and Black belt training and one of my most used advice for individuals going through training is to suppress the urge to go right to solution, let the data and the DMAIC methodology lead you, in a lot of cases you will find that what you thought was the solution really didn’t resolve the root cause.

    You may still land on automation, however you will be more confident it will solve the issues you are experiencing in your current process if you use the methodology correctly.




    I definitely agree with especially it being a JDI exercise, unfortunately I’m being told to go through DMAIC on these projects just to learn the process and get comfortable with it. As far as the automation it’s really about being able to reduce human error and eventually labor cost by not having to add an employee if we take on more branches or customers or replacing an employee if they leave or move to another area. I do appreciate your response as it contains a lot of good information. Thanks.


    Chris Seider


    How do you know you want to automate the process? What metrics support this supposedly obvious solution?

    Also, what is the business case for this “automation”?


    Steve B

    Assuming that you already know the answer (automation is the way to go), then I’ll also assume some time and investigation went into that decision. This doesn’t sound like a DMAIC project, but either a JDI or maybe even a DFSS project (Designed for Six Sigma).


    Richard Sowers

    Implementation of automation is an exponential change that calls for DFSS. The acronym DMADV will help you remember the steps:
    • Define
    ○ Define project goals including customer focus
    ○ Use Market Forecast and competitor analysis
    ○ Output: Project Charter and Project Plan
    • Measure
    ○ Determine, measure, and rank customer needs
    ○ Use Surveys, Interviews, & CTQ Matrix
    ○ Output: Prioritized CTQ understanding from the customer
    • Analyze
    ○ Select the best innovative concept to meet CTQ.
    ○ Use Affinity Chart and brainstorming
    ○ Output: recommendation for design blueprint
    • Design
    ○ Develop a design to meet the customer’s needs.
    ○ Use a variety of tools such as QFD Matrix – House of Quality, FMEA, Taguchi Robust Design, and Design for X
    ○ Output: created design.
    • Verify
    ○ Validate design with a pilot run
    ○ Transition to operations
    ○ Close team
    ○ Use flowcharts and checklists
    ○ Output: plans for full implementation
    ○ Metrics to monitor

    The effort required for this approach will be greater in the days leading up to go-live on the automation, but the data driven analysis and informed decision making early on will result in much less rework and problem solving after the launch.


    Carl Berardinelli

    You either need design for six sigma or project management.

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