Application of the DMAIC Process by a Six Sigma Team

The six sigma is a control method that organizations apply to improve quality and eliminate variation. A six sigma team is instituted to ensure that defects are eliminated. Some of the main problems addressed by this team include high costs and dissatisfaction. The six sigma team is developed by training leaders of the organization effectively on how to apply the set standards. Operations of this team include defining clear goals and objectives for every process improvement. The teams need to develop measurement metrics to evaluate processes and devise ways of improving processes and monitoring them to ensure that they work effectively (Siddh, Gadekar, Soni, & Jain, 2013).

One of the techniques that Six Sigma teams use in organizations to improve the quality of the processes is DMAIC. DMAIC offers a roadmap to improve performance within the organization. The steps in this process include; define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (Snee, 2007).

Suppose that in a health care institution, the management aims to improve the level of customer satisfaction. A six sigma team comprised of several high level practitioners and company executives is formed. The chief executive officer may serve as the sponsor for the overall six sigma initiative. The physicians may be tasked with the responsibility of implementing the six sigma within the business. The nurse manager can be tasked with ensuring that resources are available. The black belt role may be adopted be team leaders from various departments. The master black belt is held by professionals who have had experience in managing other six sigma projects. A green belt member is a part-time professional engaged on contract to lead smaller projects. Team members are employees with relevant experience for the specified project. The process owner in charge of business process in the line manager. The six sigma team deals with quality improvement. One of the process that the team continuously works to improve is customer satisfaction.

Define Stage

It is in this phase that the quality team will work to develop the blueprint for the quality improvement strategy. The main actors of this stage are executive members of the organization who form part of senior roles of the six sigma team including sponsor and leader. In the define stage, the management outlines the border of the project. The Six Sigma team identifies the current level of customer satisfaction and the designed levels that the health care facility aims to achieve. The scope and budget for the project are aligned with the project goals. Some of the tools used in the process include a project charter, work breakdown structure, process flowchart, stakeholder analysis, and SIPOC diagram.

Measure Stage

In this phase, the Six Sigma team will use different statistical methods to gather data on customer satisfaction rate and factors affecting patient satisfaction level. The team will be involved in collection and documentation of baseline data to be used as a checklist determine the progress in improving patient satisfaction. The six sigma team will need to come up with a detailed map of interrelated business processes with a general aim of enhancing performance.


In this phase, the main goal is to point out the root cause of business inefficiencies. This involves analysis of data to help point out areas where implementation of change can best be effected to improve results. The team holds discussion on how the data presented underscores the sectors in dire need of improvement.

Why-Why Diagram

In this phase, one important technique used is the Why-Why Diagram. This involves using “why” to identify the layers of symptoms that can lead to the root cause of the problem. It is essential in helping recognize the root causes of a problem and establishing how they relate to each other. This technique involves identifying the specific problem, for example, customer satisfaction and the team discusses why the problem exists while taking notes. If the answer noted does not identify the root cause of the problem, the “why” question is raised again and answers written down over and over until the team reaches an agreement on the root cause of the low customer satisfaction.

Cause and Effect Diagram

Another technique that the six sigma team uses is the Cause-and-Effect Diagram. This is very relevant in identifying the problem and verifying its primary root causes. This technique has three steps. It first involves the collection of detailed information from the data obtained and recognizing the potential causes of the problem stated. The next step is selecting the most likely primary cause that has the greatest impact on the problem. The third step involves verifying a cause and effect relationship between the most likely causes of the problem.

The cause-and-effect diagram will be used by the team in brainstorming and isolating causes of problem. In drawing the diagram, the problem to be addressed, patient satisfaction, is drawn at the end. Four diagonals are drawn to represent potential causes of the problem. Some of the suggested causes to poor patient satisfaction include; poor customer services, waiting time, patient return time, and cleanliness of the hospital. The team will need to carry out an analysis of each root cause and it was pointed out that the poor customer service and relations had a major impact on the level of patient satisfaction.

Scatter Diagram

The next technique that the six sigma team used in the phase of analyzing is the scatter diagram tool. This tool is used to establish if there exists a relationship or correlation between two variables. It is relevant in displaying what happens to a variable under study when another variable is changed. The team may use this to determine how waiting time affects patient satisfaction. In using this technique, the data on patient waiting time is plotted on the x-axis while data on customer satisfaction is plotted on the y-axis. A trend line is drawn through the approximate middle points of the data plotted. The direction of the line indicates the type of relationship and the strength (Woo & Wong, 2007).

A positive relationship exists when the data plotted forms an upward slope to the right. A positive relationship indicate that as the independent variable increases, the dependent variable also increase. A negative relationship is said to exist when the slope of the trend line flows in a downward slant to the right. It indicates a counter relationship between the variables and an increase in either the independent variable or the dependent variable causes a decrease in the other. If the data plotted does not form any identifiable shape, no relationship exists between the two variables (Hekmatpanah, 2011).


In this phase, the objective is to achieve of the team is to test run the proposed change. The team collaborates with the stakeholders to come up with methods to address the process deficiencies that were revealed through the data collected. The team collaborates on the measure to take to enhance patient satisfaction. The change process is an ongoing process and requires feedback analysis from the patients as a well as stakeholder participation.


This is the last stage in the DMAIC methodology. In this phase, the metrics are developed to help the hospital management to monitor and document the success of the process. The functioning of the six sigma strategies in an adaptive and on-going process. The management develops measures to continuously assess the levels of patient satisfaction.


            In improving the level of customer satisfaction, the health management team gathered to form six sigma team. The team will use DMAIC improvement cycle to determine ways in which to monitor and improve processes that are essential in improving patient satisfaction. The Six Sigma team is an effective method of quality improvement as it incorporates training on quality improvement methods.  The training levels of this method include yellow belt, green belt, black belt, master black belt. The DMAIC process is one of the component of Six Sigma that the health facility used to improve customer satisfaction. Using this process the team follows stages including; define, measure, analyze, improve and control.  The team will collect data and analyze it to determine causes of poor patient satisfaction.


Hekmatpanah, M. (2011). The application of cause and effect diagram in the oil industry in Iran. African Journal of Business Management , 10900-10907. Retrieved from:

Siddh, M., Gadekar, G., Soni, G., & Jain, R. (2013). Lean six sigma approach for quality and business performance. Global Journal of Management and Business Studies , 589-594. Retrieved from:

Snee, R. (2007). Use DMAIC to make improvement part of ‘The Way We Work’. Quality Progress. Retrieved from:

Woo, D., & Wong, H. (2007). An application of lean six sigma to improve the assembly operations at a Wireless Mobile Manufacturing Company. University of Toronto. Retrieved from:

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